Communities in Mazowe central have recommended that government use radio as an alternative tool for conducting lessons for pupils in rural areas given issues of poor connection and high cost of data for e-learning .This came out during a virtual dialogue conducted by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Mazowe on 6 February 2021.
The dialogue meeting is part of efforts meant to scale up community resilience and share local level strategies that can help communities fight COVID 19.Participants noted that the right to education that is exclusively provided for in Section 75 of the constitution is under serious threat because of the COVID 19 induced lockdown that has seen schools closing. There was also consensus among participants that since the advent of the lockdown in April 2020, rural pupils have been sidelined due to lack of access to e-learning services.”Our children last had proper classes in March 2020 before the lockdown and since then they have not attended school. Here in rural areas we do not have access to e-learning services. Government with the help of other stakeholders must consider utilizing radio as medium for educating pupils in rural areas”, said one participant. Participants also reported that since the closure of schools, young girls were falling prey to artisan miners in the area and this has seen an increase in cases of early marriages. There has also been a surge in cases of substance abuse by school going boys in the area. Other participants further highlighted that using radio to roll out classes will be easy since most people in rural areas have access to a radio set. Other issues that came out during the dialogue include the lack of drugs at local clinics such as Rosa clinic and Howard hospital and this has seen an increase in the number of mysterious deaths in the area. Expecting mothers have also been affected by this as evidenced by an increase in cases of home deliveries.
The virtual dialogues by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to create platforms for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. The virtual platforms also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, GBV and human rights. Virtual platforms are also platforms that facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.