By Dr Rozious Siatwambo
WITH Zambian schools set to remain closed for the rest of winter, and with an unknown path ahead for teaching for the remainder of the year, our children are facing a significant education challenge. For many students, particularly those in grades preceding important school transitions such as Grade 7, Grade 9 and Grade 12, this is particularly daunting, as the months lost to lockdown could potentially impact their readiness for next year.
It’s important to note that the time lost in the school year so far cannot be recovered. This will negatively impact all learners across all grades, and the time they have to finish important topics and syllabuses going forward. Students who have remained home have missed out on vast amounts of schoolwork. As a result, work that had to be covered in a single term will now take much longer to complete, adding further pressure to an already strained system. Added to this, many students need the support of their teachers and study groups to grasp key academic concepts. Learning alone, at home, deprives them of this support, making it that much more difficult for them to cope under the current conditions.
There is another critical factor to consider when assessing the impact of lockdown on education, and that is the mounting psychological pressure on students. Mentally and emotionally, our children are feeling the effects of not being in a classroom for months on end. Aside from the possible negative social impact, children’s behaviour has been affected, as they grapple with shifting their attention from progressive academic work to idleness in their communities.
It is against this unfolding backdrop to education in Zambia that I was delighted to hear that MultiChoice Zambia and the Ministry of General Education had taken the lead on e-learning and introduced a comprehensive new education channel called Edu TV. The channel is available on DStv channel 315 and GOtv channel 58, and broadcasts classroom-based learning and life skills programmes for children from primary school to secondary school level, based on the Zambian national curriculum.
This effectively extends national education services to almost every corner of our country, and offers the majority of our learners a valuable opportunity to keep abreast of academic work via TV. Learning through a digital platform like satellite-TV also reinforces the principle of staying home during this pandemic. Looking at this as a model for the future, there is potential for digital innovations to play a significant role in the transformation of Zambia’s education sector. Firstly, we can see this in the way Edu TV was specifically developed to fill the vital learning gap created by Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdown.
We can also see it in MultiChoice Zambia’s wider bouquet of educational TV channels on DStv. This includes Mindset (channel 319), Mindset Pop (channel 317) and Da Vinci Kids (channel 318). While Mindset and Mindset Pop feature programming covering the entire spectrum of general education, from Early Childhood Learning to the current curriculums of Grades 4 to 9; Da Vinci Kids offers award-winning educational programming that is fun and stimulating, presenting inspired worldly views on important subjects.
Educational innovations like this are helping to change our children’s mindsets around learning, moving them out of the strict classroom landscape into more familiar digital territory. This is absolutely critical in preparing our youth for the innovations that will come in future – learning via video. Educational videos have the potential to provide theory instruction and enhance skills development, and as we have seen during lockdown, can be broadcast on multiple platforms, from TV to social and other online media.
While the future for lesson delivery will largely depend on how much capacity we can build into new technology systems, online is certainly one of the biggest future learning avenues Zambia will look to fully embracing. The launch of Edu TV on DStv and GOtv could not have come at more appropriate time. Considering the number of subscribers on these two platforms, the positive contribution this channel – along with DStv’s additional educational channels – will make in ensuring scholastic continuity during this difficult time cannot be overemphasised.
Learning is not attained by chance, it is attained through hard work and diligence. Technology, online and television-based learning broadens the arena in which we can encourage such hard work and diligence. These platforms provide invaluable support to Zambian educators, ultimately helping us to achieve our global education goals.
Dr Rozious Siatwambo is founder and CEO of Great North Road Academy Group of Companies, which includes Great North Road Academy, one of the leading private schools in Zambia. Dr Siatwambo is also an author, mentor and motivational speaker.
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Zambian truck drivers urged to exercise caution on South African roads, following violent attacks against foreign drivers.
ZAMBIA’S High Commissioner to South Africa Major General Jackson Miti has called on Zambian truck drivers on the South African route to be cautious on the roads following an eruption of violent attacks against foreign drivers in some parts of that country.
This is according to a press statement issued by Mrs Naomi Nyawali, First Secretary Press and Public Relations at the Zambia High Commission in South Africa.
Maj Gen Miti said this in the wake of violent protects in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, in which hundreds of locally engaged truck drivers protested against the use of foreign truck drivers.
Maj Gen Miti said the safety of Zambian truck drivers was cardinal and advised them to ensure they avoided being victims of violent protests currently going on in some parts of South Africa.
He said the High Commission would continue monitoring the situation and advise accordingly.
Maj Gen Miti added that so far, no Zambian was affected by the violent atacks against foreigners, particularly more visible in Durban where a number of trucks are reported to have been torched.
According to the Road Freight Association in South Africa, about 30 foreign truck drivers have so far been attacked across South Africa in the last seven days.
SADC Ambassadors in Berlin call for greater unity for economic diplomacy
THE Ambassador of Namibia to Germany H.E Andreas Guibeb has called for strengthening of regional groupings in Africa such as SADC because they have the ability to collectively develop the African continent and make it a bigger player in the global economics and politics.
“There is saying that you can go far along but you can indeed further in unity hence the reason the importance of regional groups such as our SADC which we must continue to strengthen,” said Ambassador Guibeb.
The senior Namibian envoy was speaking at a small farewell event that was hosted by the Ambassador of Zambia to Germany H.E Anthony Mukwita on Axel Springer Strasse on Wednesday.
“There is no problem too big or too small for Africa to resolve as long as we put our heads together in unity to find a lasting solution,” Ambassador Guibeb said.
The SADC group of Ambassadors is regarded to be one of the most organized diplomatic groups in Berlin with its own monthly meetings and events to push the economic diplomacy agenda of the member states.
It also uses the platform to champion other causes of concern for the region such as energy or agriculture development or mere solidarity when it feels that a member state has been wronged, with the mandate from home countries.
With a total population of about 400 million people and an almost 1trillion-dollar GDP, the group that comprises, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely seen as an economically progressive regional grouping.
Despite having a southern regional agenda, the group in Berlin has often included other African countries on the continent. For instance, Nigeria, the continent’s largest economic powerhouse was represented at the event by Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar.
Another Ambassador the group was bidding farewell to was H.E Calvin Masenyetse from the Kingdom of Lesotho who hailed his stay in Germany and interaction with colleagues as a milestone in his diplomatic career.
“Balozi’s (Ambassadors) I can safely say this is one of the best moments I have enjoyed in my career as a public servant and like they say in diplomacy we part to meet yet again in another capacity,” said Ambassador Masenyetse.
Others present were the Ambassador of Botswana H.E Masire Mmasegoa Mwamba, a seasoned diplomat who once served as Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth in London including Ambassador Stone Sizani a veteran diplomat who represents the Republic of South Africa and once served as Chief Whip of parliament in South Africa.
Ambassador Mukwita said quoting Shakespeare that, “to part is such sweet sorrow but we can only work here for as long as our leadership allows until we meet again. The great thing is expanding our horizons and make good friends while on duty abroad.”
The small group was, however, cognizant of the threat the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has caused to SADC economies and beyond even in the tranquil of the small circle.
Ambassador Tuggar of Nigeria said, “diplomacy was rendered void without personal contact among human beings which is essential to the exchange of views-points.”
“In an era of post-truths, social media and now COVID-19, the opportunity to clarify issues and exchange information in real time which is the essence of democracy is threatened when diplomats are unable to meet”, Ambassador Tuggar observed.
The farewell was also attended by visiting Namibian Ambassador to France H.E Albertus Aochamub.
The SADC region is largely seen as an economic destination due to its vast natural resources, young population and political stability.
The envoys in Berlin continue to interact mostly remotely due to a lock down as a consequence of spiking new infections of covid-19 that has claimed millions of lives globally.
This is according to a statement issued by Kellys Kaunda, Press Secretary at the embassy of Zambia in Berlin, Germany.