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Radio lessons a critical tool for continuing education

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Joyline Rushwaya is one of many teachers whose careers were halted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As numbers of infected people grew, many countries including Zimbabwe went into national lockdowns to minimise infections resulting in learners staying at home without options for continuing their education. Students in rural settings were the most affected by the national lockdowns due to limited access to internet and tools for communication such as mobile smartphones with WhatsApp for instance, where urban students were receiving information from their teachers and from their peers.

Prior to COVID-19, the Manicaland and Masvingo provinces of Zimbabwe experienced torrential rainfall, after the landfall of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique on 14 March 2019. The combination of high winds and heavy precipitation in the districts of Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Nyanga, Makoni, Mutare Rural, Bikita, Masvingo and Gutu resulted in riverine and flash flooding, as well as landslides, causing significant loss of life, injury and displacement.

In her account of the impact of Cyclone Idai Joyline notes, “When Cyclone Idai hit we were caught unawares. A bridge that is used by students to cross over to go to school was damaged by the cyclone and students were not able to come to school. This was a major issue for the community as many students were not able to go to their schools due to the damaged roads and bridges”.

The Solo Foundation introduced Joyline to radio lessons when she was invited to record lessons for airing on Diamond FM. She found herself in a situation where she had to record lessons without any prior knowledge of radio lessons scripting and recording. Joyline used her mobile telephone to record and send lessons that were aired on Diamond FM. Radio lessons enabled her to continue teaching remotely without convening her students in a classroom.

Joyline enjoyed recording lessons on her mobile telephone, however without being training she initially had some challenges to get the lessons just right. As one of the teachers recently trained by UNESCO, her journey in recording radio lessons has grown leading her to Chimanimani FM her local community radio station.

Chimanimani FM is one of the four operational community radio stations in Zimbabwe that are bringing resilience to disasters and development to Manicaland Province. Joyline is one of 25 teachers recently trained on radio lessons. During the training she was nominated by other training participants to represent their group on a practical excursion to Chimanimani FM where four teachers conducted On AIR radio lessons to a live audience. It was her first time visiting a radio studio and she enjoyed the experience.

Joyline Rushwaya is an early childhood development (ECD) teacher at Matendeudze Primary School in Chimanimani in Manicaland Province. She joined the teaching profession in 2011 and has been teaching at Matendeudze Primary School since 2012. She is one of the teachers that were recently trained on scripting for and conducting radio lessons by UNESCO.

More teachers in Zimbabwe and within Southern Africa will continue to be trained by UNESCO to complement the lessons that learners receive in classrooms and for education to continue when children cannot be in a classroom.

UNESCO has developed a Handbook for Interactive Audio Instruction: Planning and implementing radio lessons in sub-Saharan Africa to support radio lessons training in the region. For an overview of the manual kindly, visit here.

UNESCO work on building the resilience of Manicaland communities ensures early warning of disasters through weather monitoring equipment installed in various parts of Chimanimani. The system includes community radios, which entail bolstering already established indigenous community communication channels and cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) weather monitoring technology installed in various locations throughout Manicaland. The radio stations were developed as part of the World Bank funded Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP) coordinated by UNOPS. UNESCO led and implemented the component of the project related to Comprehensive Resilience Building in the Chimanimani and Chipinge Districts.