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.
Zambians traveling to Dubai urged to check their travel documents
THE Zambian Consulate in Dubai says it is concerned with the increased number of nationals travelling to other countries via Dubai being denied passage due to lack of Travel Permits.
And the Consulate has has advised all Zambian travelers wishing to transit through Dubai to ensure that they carry with them all the necessary travel documents in the country of destination such as travel Visa, valid passports, COVID-19 negative tests and pre-approval Travel Permits.
In a statement, Consulate second Secretary for Accounts Musonda Chella said cautioned that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries around the world have introduced special permits which need approval before one travels. Sometimes this application has to be submitted 24 hours to 14 days prior to the date of travel.
He observed that some Zambians have travelled without special travel permits via Dubai where the airlines from the United Arab Emirates prevented them from proceeding further to the countries of destination.
“This has caused panic and inconvenience as the nationals have incurred extra costs on tickets, spent nights in the airports, and in other cases sent back to Zambia,” Chella said.
K 5.7 billion allocated for FISP to benefit 1 million small-scale farmers
MINISTER of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu has disclosed that government has allocated a whopping K5.7billion for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to support over one million small-scale farmers in the 2020-2021 farming season.
Presenting the national budget in the National Assembly, Dr. Ngandu said government had also allocated K517.5million for the national food strategic reserve.
“Mr. Speaker, the Economic Affairs function has been allocated a total of K21.5 billion,” he said.
“Notable expenditures include K5.7 billion on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), targeting one million farmers across the country”, he said.
“Further, for the country to be food secure, I have set aside K517.5million for the national strategic food reserve”, he said
Dr. Ngandu also announced support to the livestock sector by promoting a programme to restock and control cattle diseases.
“Sir, to promote the livestock sub-sector, Government will continue with the Livestock Stocking and Restocking Programme out of which at least 30 percent of the beneficiaries are youths”, he said
“In the first half of 2020, a total of 3,100 households benefitted from the Programme. With regard to animal
health, a total of 283,000 animals
have been vaccinated out of the 2020 target of 290,000 under the Livestock Vaccination Programme”, he said.
He also announced a loan programme in the agriculture sector to primarily benefit young people.
“Mr Speaker, Government is
implementing the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development
Project aimed at stimulating a viable aquaculture sub-sector”, he said
“In 2020, the Project, through the Citizens Economic Empowerment
Commission(CEEC), has disbursed loans worth K6.3 million to 637 aquaculture entrepreneurs”, He said
“These loans are targeted at empowering youths and women “. he said
2021 Budget is pro-poor, aims to safeguard livelihoods and protect the vulnerable
FINANCE Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu’s budget has been welcomed by many who say the budget will safeguard the interests of the poor, who have been hit hard by the recent economic slow down caused by COVID-19.
Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu tabled the budget at the National Assembly on Friday afternoon where he proposed to spend K119.6 billion in 2021 which translates to 32.6 percent of GDP. Of this amount, K68.0 billion, representing 18.5 percent of GDP, will come from domestic revenues and grants. The balance of K51.6 billion will be raised through financing.
“Mr. Speaker, the 2021 Budget clearly lays a foundation for economic recovery, build resilience, safeguard livelihoods and protect the vulnerable. The thrust and priority for 2021 and the medium term will, therefore, be to re-invigorate growth, restore macroeconomic stability, attain fiscal fitness, restore debt sustainability and dismantle domestic arrears and at the same time safeguard social protection spending” he said.