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-basedlearning 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.
Source: MultiChoice Zambia