EASTERN Province senior Education Standards Officer in charge of Natural Sciences Lawrence Nyirenda says the prolonged closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on learners as the syllabus has been abruptly cut short.

Speaking during a News Diggers! sponsored COVID-19 sensitisation programme on Breeze FM, Friday, Nyirenda said the prolonged closure of schools due COVID-19 was devastating to pupils mainly because learning had drastically slowed down this year as the syllabus had been negatively affected.

“That aspect of the syllabus being disturbed as a result of COVID-19 has been cited as one of the major concerns. You see, when you ask learners to go and sit at home, just that aspect of them not learning with the mind that they will write an examination is devastating, not only to learners, but also to the parents themselves. The closure of schools due to COVID-19 has disrupted the learning schedule of the entire education sector in Zambia,” Nyirenda lamented.

He said the reduced teacher-pupil contact would result in learners feeling academically inadequate, which would heighten examination anxiety.

Nyirenda added that out of the 89,619 student population from examination classes in Eastern Province, no pupil had contracted COVID-19, raising hopes that non-examination classes would resume.

“But the increased numbers of the reported cases of COVID-19 has frustrated the desire to have pupils in non-examination classes get back to school,” said Nyirenda.

“The process of rehabilitating desks is still ongoing and like here in Eastern Province we have Chipata Skills, there is Chipata Day Secondary School, there is also Chizongwe Technical Secondary School. So, in these centres, desk rehabilitation is going on to mitigate the aspect of social distancing in schools.”

And a caller, who only identified himself as a Mr Mbewe from Chipata, suggested that government should use the funds from the COVID-19 Social Cash Transfer to buy radios and use them for educational purposes.

Mbewe urged schools to establish deliberate programmes on how the radios could be used to boost pupils’ learning experience given the large amount of time lost due to COVID-19.