Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, columnist
STUDENTS have not been spared the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen a change in the learning system and an adjustment in the school calendar which has strained learners.
Due to the pandemic, school holidays have been extended, leaving learners with limited time to take face-to-face lessons with their teachers. Schools are now relying more on virtual lessons to reduce interactions between learners and teachers in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Form Six student at Luveve High School in Bulawayo, Miss Caroline Moyo (18) said 2020 was a very bad year for her academically as they had limited learning time but she needed to move on to the next level this year.
“You will recall that the schools closed at the beginning of March last year instead of April and we only resumed classes in October and closed in December. We lost a lot of valuable learning time and it was never recovered. At the end of the year, we had to take it to the next level even without having enough learning time.
“This year was no different as schools delayed their opening due to the pandemic. In fact, the schools were supposed to open in January, but they opened in March. Schools closed on June 4 and were scheduled to reopen on June 28, but the reopening was postponed due to the pandemic.
We don’t know how long it will last and when we can resume face-to-face lessons. When we opened this year, we were trying to make up for lost time last year and also cover this year’s program, but that’s no longer possible, ”she said.
Miss Moyo said teachers try to teach lessons via WhatsApp, but it is not as effective as face-to-face lessons and the worst part is that the learning time is limited. She said she was taking extra classes in order to cover as much ground as possible, but could only attend a few of them due to financial issues.
“At the end of the year, I will have to take my final exams, but I don’t know how I’m going to cope with all these obstacles. All of these disruptions are having a negative impact on us as students, ”she said.
Mr Mthandazo Dube, a final year student at the University of Zimbabwe studying food science and technology, said learning has become very difficult due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said his final exams were due to start on July 12 but had been postponed.
Mr Dube said that if it hadn’t been for the Covid-19-induced pandemic, he should have completed his studies by now.
“I should have finished my studies in June, but because of this Covid-19 pandemic, I have not yet passed my final exams. I don’t know when we are likely to take the exams as it depends on the situation.
The delay is really frustrating, but there is nothing we can do but wait, ”he said.
Mr Dube said they learn online and the speakers mostly use WhatsApp, as it is the cheapest and most affordable alternative.
“It is however a challenge because on this platform the speakers mainly share learning material and we have to study on our own, we cannot even meet as classmates to discuss the topics to be discussed. cause of the pandemic. Zoom is a better platform because it’s great for long discussions, but the challenge is that as students we can’t afford the data, ”he said.
Mr Dube said he preferred face-to-face lectures because they were interactive and students could have the opportunity to discuss and share notes.
He said that during that semester they only had physical classes for three weeks and during that time the teachers tried to cover as much ground as possible, which put pressure on the students.
Mr Dube said exams were typically written over three weeks, but have now been reduced to two weeks.
“The inconsistency in our learning schedules is frustrating and causes anxiety. It’s also demotivating to some extent. Now we have to prepare for exams that we don’t even know when we will take, ”he said.
Another student from the University of Zimbabwe, Mr. Praise Hadebe, a second year student studying plant breeding and organic
Tech said their yards are now crowded due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown. He said they are now taking classes from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to make up for lost time.
Mr Hadebe said the lectures were now rushed as the speakers focused on completing the program. He said his curriculum required them to do practical work, but they couldn’t do it.
“Some degree programs require a lot of hands-on work like mine. It is difficult to have this practical work if we have online courses. Our learning is now mainly theoretical rather than practical. We are now going to Youtube to see some of the labs, but with limited data it’s difficult and the labs need to be practical and working together.
“When we leave college and join industry, we will be graduates with theories but lacking in practical skills. This pandemic has really affected us in a huge way, ”he said. – @DubeMatutu