Joyline Rushwaya is one of many teachers whose careers were cut short by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the number of infected rose, many countries, including Zimbabwe, implemented nationwide lockdowns to minimize infections, forcing learners to stay home with no opportunity to continue their education. Rural students were the most affected by the nationwide lockdowns due to limited access to the internet and communication tools such as mobile smartphones with WhatsApp for example, where urban students received information from their teachers and their peers.
Prior to COVID-19, Zimbabwe’s Manicaland and Masvingo provinces experienced torrential rains, after Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14, 2019. The combination of high winds and heavy rainfall in the districts of Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Nyanga, Makoni, Mutare Rural, Bikita, Masvingo and Gutu led to river and flash floods, as well as landslides, causing significant loss of life, injuries and displacement.
In her account of the impact of Cyclone Idai, Joyline notes: “When Cyclone Idai hit, we were caught off guard. A bridge used by students to cross to school was damaged by the cyclone and students were unable to come to school. This was a major problem for the community as many students were unable to get to their schools due to damaged roads and bridges”.
The Solo Foundation introduced Joyline to radio lessons when she was asked to record lessons for broadcast on Diamond FM. She found herself in a situation where she had to record lectures without any prior knowledge of scriptwriting and radio lecture recording. Joyline used her cell phone to record and send lessons broadcast on Diamond FM. The radio lessons allowed him to continue teaching remotely without summoning his students to a classroom.
Joyline liked to record lessons on her cell phone, but without practicing, she initially struggled to follow the lessons well. As one of the teachers recently trained by UNESCO, her journey in recording radio lessons grew and led her to Chimanimani FM, her local community radio station.
Chimanimani FM is one of four operational community radio stations in Zimbabwe that bring disaster resilience and development to Manicaland province. Joyline is one of 25 teachers recently trained in radio lessons. During the training, she was nominated by other training participants to represent their group on a practical excursion to Chimanimani FM where four teachers gave On AIR radio lessons to a live audience. It was her first time visiting a radio studio and she enjoyed the experience.
Joyline Rushwaya is an Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher at Matendeudze Primary School in Chimanimani in Manicaland Province. She joined the teaching profession in 2011 and has been teaching at Matendeudze Primary School since 2012. She is one of the teachers recently trained in scriptwriting and conducting radio lessons by UNESCO.
More teachers in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa will continue to be trained by UNESCO to supplement the lessons learners receive in the classroom and to ensure education continues when children cannot be in class.
UNESCO has developed a manual for Interactive Audio Teaching: Planning and Implementing Radio Courses in Sub-Saharan Africa to support radio course training in the region. For an overview of the manual, please visit here.
UNESCO’s work on building community resilience in Manicaland ensures early warning of disasters through weather monitoring equipment installed in various parts of Chimanimani. The system includes community radios, which involves bolstering already established indigenous community communication channels and advanced Internet of Things (IoT) weather monitoring technology installed in various locations across Manicaland. The radio stations were developed under the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP) funded by the World Bank and coordinated by UNOPS. UNESCO led and implemented the overall resilience building component of the project in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.