In Zimbabwe, schools were set to reopen on 4th January 2021, after remaining open for only four and a half months in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When the number of cases escalated in December 2020 and January 2021, the Government of Zimbabwe announced another lockdown.
When the lockdown was lifted, a phased return to school was introduced with learners in exam classes starting on 15th March and the remainder returning on 22nd March. At the Chiedza Child Care Centre, it was a great relief for children and teachers to be together again, as the aim of this out-of-school programme for accelerated learning is to support orphans and vulnerable children in their return to mainstream education.
During the academic year 2020-21 sixty primary level learners were retained, of whom forty per cent were girls. Of these, sixteen girls and thirteen boys were integrated into government/public schools on 15th March. For the academic year 2021, when the programme closed for the holidays on 4th June, ninety-one primary learners were enrolled, of whom forty- one per cent are girls.
For 2020-21, forty-one secondary school level learners were retained on the programme, of whom fifty-six per cent were girls. All students moved up to the next learning level in this group, with six boys and seven girls progressing as follows: three have enrolled for ‘A’ levels at school, one is undergoing vocational training in motor mechanics, five are awaiting vocational training placements and four are retaking subjects at the centre. In addition, four learners sat for their ‘A’ level examinations and three will be progressing to university, with one learner awaiting a vocational skills placement as he did not get the required grades.
For the academic year 2021, sixty-two secondary learners were enrolled on the programme, of whom sixty-one per cent are girls.
As learning continues, all students and staff are following Covid-19 health and safety guidelines as set out by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. It has been noted that learning has been greatly disrupted by the emergency situations that have arisen due to the pandemic and Chiedza is continuing in its efforts to mobilise resources to facilitate online learning for learners.