Solar radios to keep children learning in Zimbabwe
“Children’s education cannot wait. Children’s lives cannot wait. Children’s futures cannot be put on hold.”
UNICEF has supplied over 3,000 solar-powered radios to allow children without internet access or electricity to continue learning through radio lessons.
In addition, these devices will address the issue of limited or non-existent radio signal in remote areas, as the radios have USB ports for playing pre-recorded lessons. Memory sticks and CDs (3,000 each) on which the pre-recorded classes are being uploaded, have also been procured by UNICEF and will be distributed together with the radios.
The radios were presented to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) for distribution as part of interventions under the Radio Education programme.
Presenting the consignment, UNICEF Education Manager, Dr. Chiharu Kondo highlighted the need to reach vulnerable households across Zimbabwe. “One of the challenges with the Radio Education program was that not all learners have access to radio sets or radio signal,” she said at the presentation held at the UNICEF warehouse in Harare.
“We congratulate the Ministry for successfully launching the Radio lessons and hope that these radio sets will go a long way in increasing access to the on-going radio lessons for better learning outcomes, particularly during this period of COVID-19 induced emergency.”
Funded through Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the radios will be distributed to about 2,500 targeted disadvantaged schools and the remainder will be sent to around 600 identified community centers where organised learning has been taking place during COVID-19 school closures.
MoPSE is finalising the distribution list, and dispersal will commence throughout May.
In his remarks, MoPSE Deputy Minister, Honourable Edgar Moyo said, “It gives me great pleasure to take this opportunity to acknowledge that radio alternative learning is being enhanced by this handover in a bid to ensure access to teaching and learning materials for all. I would like to thank UNICEF and the funding partners in providing equity in teaching and learning.”
Alongside the radios, UNICEF presented 405,000 copies of the Grade 7 Science and Technology textbooks to support the implementation of the new Competence-based Curriculum launched by the Ministry in 2017 with UNICEF’s support. The textbooks were part of a consignment of about 2,430,000 textbooks procured this year under Phase 5 of the phased textbook procurement process which started is 2017. In addition, the Ministry was presented with an assortment of COVID-19 supplies to facilitate the safe return to schools. These include handwashing facilities, protective clothing and sanitisers among other items.
Since the launching of the Radio Education programme in 2020, more than 1,400 lessons have been broadcast through four stations under the national broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and have been accessed by about 1,700,000 children. Five other community radio stations, which mainly broadcast lessons for the ECD level in indigenous languages, have also assisted in achieving a national coverage of about 95%.
Impressed by the number of supplies awaiting distribution, Permanent Secretary, Tumisang Thabela concluded by emphasising, “Children’s education cannot wait. Children’s lives cannot wait. Children’s futures cannot be put on hold.”