UNESCO targets teachers to improve distance and online learning in Zimbabwe

UNESCO, working with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), has developed a teacher professional development programme to support the continuation of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools in Zimbabwe have remained closed for almost 12 months, affecting 4.6 million learners and 139,596  primary and secondary school teachers. Most public schools do not have the capacity to offer distance or online learning as teachers are not equipped and trained to deliver remote learning while infrastructure and resources are also lacking.
The Rapid Teacher Training Programme on Open, Distance and Online Learning factors in the need to build and/or strengthen the technical and adaptive capacities of teachers to support children’s learning using remote methods of teaching including radio, digital and print materials at home, during and after the emergency.  

It is divided into three modules focused on high-tech, low tech and no tech tools. Various methods of teaching learners remotely will be explored, including hybrid or blended learning approaches, relevant for the Zimbabwean context. The objective of the programme is to equip Zimbabwean teachers with skills and resources to deliver different forms of remote learning. 

UNESCO trained 20 teacher trainers from 25 February to 1 March 2021 on the first module which introduces the concept of open distance learning and online learning, participatory teaching methods and various tools including WhatsApp, Moodle and Google Classrooms. 

Trained trainers responded enthusiastically to the training saying it changed their perceptions of online teaching and equipped them with the necessary skills of making online/distance learning more interactive.

I learned to embrace a culture of innovation using available resources to ensure learning continues even during COVID-driven school closures.

The other two modules will look into the planning of lessons and developing content and open education resources for remote learning as well as distance learning through radio.

As a next step, the teacher trainers who benefited from the course will roll out the training to around 1500 teachers in the months to come. 

UNESCO will further establish sustainable structures, including an on-line resource bank for teachers to deliver distance education and use ICT in education during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.