Newsletter – August 2021
Situation countrywide and in schools
The coronavirus pandemic is in the community transmission stage in Zimbabwe, and the infection rate, fuelled by virus variants, has risen dramatically this year. To date the number of confirmed cases exceeds 124,437, with just over 4,400 deaths attributed to Covid-19. Vaccine availability has varied widely. However, right now vaccines are available, and over 10% of the population have received two doses. In an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, the Government tightened the social and economic lockdown at the end of June, imposing stricter, level 4 measures countrywide. Lockdown rules are reviewed every two weeks. These include: restrictions on freedom of movement and social gatherings, nightime curfew, shortened shop-opening times, tight restrictions in restaurants, mandatory remote work, and closure of all educational and recreational facilities. The Government is assessing the situation at two-week intervals; for now the lockdown continues and the vaccination campaign has been intensified in many ways.
In Zimbabwe, the academic year is the calendar year and normally comprises three terms. Academic year 2021 is going very badly for schools, as did 2020. This year, term one didn’t start until well into March instead of at the beginning of January. Term two should have begun on 28 June but they have stayed closed until now, 30.8.2020. The second and also the final school term will be running from Monday 30.8. until 17.12.2020. Schools in poor districts are unable to provide distance learning. Dzivarasekwa children have now been out of school for a total of 4 months, and the outlook for performance isn’t good. Final exams are normally held in October-December.
According to UNICEF, school closures in developing countries have increased the distress of children, girls in particular, in a multitude of ways.
What we have done at Dzikwa Trust
Our programme focuses, as it always has, on enabling orphans to go to school and now also on mitigating the learning loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic.Already last year, our partner in Zimbabwe, Dzikwa Trust, organised a wide range of extra lessons for the children in our programme. The best teachers available were hired and the lessons were held in small groups in the Activity Centre. We also invested heavily in the active use of online learning platforms. Our efforts were amply rewarded: Dzikwa children’s results in their final exams last year were well above the national average, the pass rate being 100% for both Grade 7 and A-level exams.Extra lessons and tutoring have continued in 2021. That way we can ensure that the children won’t suffer permanent damage from their schools being closed. Note that it is not possible to repeat a year in Zimbabwe schools. Thanks to our programme, we are kept well informed about the home situation of our children.
- Dzikwa Activity Centre adheres to the strict coronavirus hygiene measures. All Activity Centre staff members and volunteer teachers have received their first vaccine dose and many have already got the second jab.
- We organise face-to-face teaching in small groups, hold interim exams for students, and make extensive use of online learning platforms aligned with Zimbabwe’s curriculum (e-learning platform “Ruzivo” used a lot) .
- Students sitting for their final exams have use of the equipment necessary for online learning, and WiFi access is good in the Activity Centre. Exercises and lessons can be uploaded for use at home even when there is no internet connection.
- Dzikwa Trust teachers and students make active use of messaging apps like WhatsApp. The 85 smartphones and tablets procured by Dzikwa Trust early in 2021 have been a huge help in the current situation. We have allocated e-learning tools for each and every student sitting final exams in 2021. We have also received 20 laptops donated by the European Central Bank and we are going to receive number of good second-hand laptops from the Bank of Finland.
We are still in desperate need of sponsors – Can you help?
A total of 41 children are still looking for their very own sponsor. As a sponsor you can influence the life of one of them, helping to give that child a future as a builder of the nation.Sponsors decide for themselves the extent to which they are in contact with their child. Over the years many sponsors have visited us to meet their own child and also see how our programme works in practice.
We currently have 29 primary school and 12 secondary school children without sponsors. Girls make up two-thirds of all children in our programme.We have launched a campaign in the social media aimed at finding new sponsors who will enable the children to go to school and support their wellbeing. We invite you, too, to join us in this effort.
Here are some ways in which you can promote the success of our campaign:
1. Help a child on the path to school: Contact us by email: zimorvot at gmail.com
2. Let your friends know: We are hoping that you’ll ask five of your friends if they’d be willing to join us as sponsors
3. Share the message through social media: Our Society’s pages on Facebook and Instagram have plenty of publications with pictures and videos related to the campaign. We’d like you to share them on your own networks. Please write to us about your experience as a sponsor and explain why sponsorship through our programme means so much for both the child and the sponsor.
4. Send us a message or a video that we can share telling us how you have experienced sponsorship: Why are you a sponsor? Why did you choose our Society? When did you start? What does sponsorship give you? Why would you recommend being a sponsor? We’d be happy to use your ideas or to quote from them (with or without your name) in our communications. You can send your message to us either privately through social media or by email to maria.ainamo at gmail.com or zimorvot at gmail.com
Finally here’s a reminder of what sponsorship costs in 2021:
Primary school (6 – 13 yr) €420/year
Junior secondary (13-17 yr) €540/year
Senior secondary €720/year
We sincerely hope that new sponsors starting in autumn 2021 can pay the full annual sponsorship fee – or at least 50% of the annual fee at this point! The sponsorship payment is used in full for the child. It covers the compulsory school fees, other school-related costs and charges, basic health care and a portion of other wellbeing support costs. Our Society in Finland covers its small administrative costs through membership fees.
Account in Finland:
Zimbabwen lapset ry, Nordea Bank, FI76 1745 3000 0616 40, reference no: 1012