Rapid Joint Education Needs Assessment: Cyclone Idai, Zimbabwe - Assessment Report, 6 May 2019

from UN Children's Fund, Save the Children, Education Cluster
Published on 06 May 2019


139 schools in 6 districts were impacted by Cyclone Idai, representing a significant risk to the learning and wellbeing of 90,847 school-aged girls and boys. As schools across the cyclone-affected districts open their doors for the start of the second school term on 7 May 2019, many have a shortage of teaching and learning materials, damaged or destroyed school infrastructure, a reduction in staffing, low attendance rates, and teachers and learners who require a range of support. It is important to note therefore, that whilst the vast majority of schools remain broadly functional, the quality and safety of the learning environment, and overall capacity to meet the needs of girls and boys is reduced as a result of the emergency.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and once access to affected areas was restored, the Education Cluster conducted a Rapid Joint Education Needs Assessment (RJENA) of 60 affected schools in 6 affected districts. Together, CARE, Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision International sought to establish the impact of the emergence on schools, teachers and learners, building on the assessments led by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), with a focus on children's access to education and the availability of safe learning spaces. In addition, the assessment aimed to identify the key needs and priority interventions for a coordinated Education in Emergencies (EiE) response.

Damage and destruction to school infrastructure is widely reported, with 57% of schools reporting one or more items of infrastructure having been completely destroyed as a result of the cyclone, and the same percentage reporting one or more items of infrastructure having been damaged. WASH in schools is a critical priority, with 2 out of 3 schools reporting loss of sanitation facilities as a result of the emergency, and 1 in 3 reporting a loss of water supply. School heads overwhelmingly prioritise repairs to damaged school infrastructure, with 52 out of 60 schools identifying this form of support as a top priority. Assessment teams observed that community-resourced infrastructure generally sustained more damage than other infrastructure, highlighting existing vulnerabilities, the lack of resources at school-level, and the need for duty-bearers to apply national construction standards.

In the immediate aftermath of the emergency, almost half of schools closed for a number of days, leaving children without access to learning. Whilst the majority of schools reopened ahead of the school holidays, 1 in 3 reported that less than 25% of children were attending school. For 2 in 5 affected schools — children’s attendance is significantly below what it was pre-crisis. This demonstrates the impact that the emergency has had on children’s access to learning, highlighting the barriers that children are facing in accessing school. This reduced access to learning is particularly critical given the psychosocial support, normalcy, protection and routine that safe learning spaces can provide during an emergency.

Teachers are critical to the functioning of schools, the protection of children at school, and the provision of learning.
As with other members of the communities in which they live and/or work, teachers themselves have been affected by the emergency, which in turn has impacted on their availability to teach. More than half of schools (32/60) reported that staffing levels were affected by the emergency: an audit is needed to ensure that teachers are in place to meet the needs of learners. Teachers also require a range of support. Psychosocial Support for teachers emerged as the most requested form of support for teachers, with 63% identifying PSS as a priority, followed by the provision of teaching materials.

Given the widespread damage to essential school infrastructure and the reality that rehabilitating or replacing/rebuilding such infrastructure is likely to require significant resourcing beyond the means of the humanitarian response, and in a much longer timeframe, short-term emergency solutions are needed to ensure that schools remain functional and safe for learning, including Temporary Learning Spaces and temporary latrines.

Whilst Chimanimani and Chipinge emerge as the worst affected districts in terms of the scale and scope of damage to school infrastructure and teaching and learning materials, the proportion of schools closing early and durations schools remained closed as a result of the emergency, and leaners’ attendance, all 60 assessed schools were impacted by the cyclone in multiple ways. It is important that all affected schools in all affected districts receive the support needed to meet the needs of all children, and ensure that learning continues to take place in safe spaces during the second school term and beyond. The most vulnerable children, among them girls, children living with disabilities, Unaccompanied and Separated Children, and children from very poor households will require specific attention and, where needed, targeted support.

Finally, whilst it is important that schools are able to reopen and for the provision of normal teaching and learning to resume as soon as possible, it’s critical that the safety of learning spaces, and the safety and wellbeing of learners is teachers is the first priority. As schools in affected districts reopen their doors for the second school term on 7 May, the Education Cluster calls on humanitarian actors, donors, and government and non-governmental agencies to redouble efforts to restore safe learning spaces, and ensure continued access to learning for cyclone-affected girls and boys. This requires emergency solutions including temporary infrastructure, PSS for teachers and learners, and the provision of teaching and learning material.

In the long-term however, safeguarding the wellbeing and learning of children in the face of climate change and recurrent emergencies, requires a joint effort to promote Early Recovery and to Build Back Better, including high quality and resilient rehabilitation and reconstruction, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) at national, district, community and school level, and increased resourcing to the education sector.

Contact details for any questions:

Mary Greer: m.greer@savethechildren.org.uk

Sibangani Shumba: Sibangani.Shumba@savethechildren.org