Zimbabwe Education Cluster: Humanitarian Response & COVID-19 Sitrep #8, 6 August 2020


Key figures

  • 853,032 learners (ECD to Grade 7, ages 3 to 12) targeted under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) through Education in Emergency support across 33 districts with severe needs.

  • 3.5 Million learners are currently affected under the COVID-19 pandemic. The cluster is targeting to reach these learners with various activities to address their needs.

  • 63,325 people have benefitted from activities related to the HRP and 334,004 people have benefitted from COVID-19 related activities as of June 2020.

  • Cluster Partners are appealing for US $41 Million through the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 and US $10.26 Million to meet the emergent needs outlined in the COVID-19 Addendum.

  • 20 operational partners within the cluster have planned, ongoing or completed activities.

Humanitarian needs

  • The education system in Zimbabwe was already stretched before the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of multiple crises, including the impact of Cyclone Idai last year, the economic crisis coupled with hyperinflation and the ongoing drought. Before the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, estimates by the Education Cluster were that of the more than 3.4 million children of school going age (3 to 12 years), at least 1.2 million (35 per cent), would need emergency and specialized education services in 2020. This includes more than 853,000 children in acute need, such as: children not enrolled in school; orphans and other vulnerable children (OCV), including children with disabilities and children living with HIV; and those in need of school feeding.

  • The combined effect of the humanitarian crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have far-reaching implications for the demand and supply of education services. While Zimbabwe closed schools on March 24, 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to protect school populations, school closures have disrupted the education of more than 4.6 million children, with adverse impacts on the protection and wellbeing of children as well as their readiness for school, attendance and participation in learning.

  • While the MoPSE successfully conducted June national examinations for Forms 4 and Form 6 from June 30, 2020 to July 23, 2020, the planned reopening of schools, which was tentatively scheduled for 28 July 2020, was postponed indefinitely. By now, children have missed a whole school term (about 92 days) of teaching and learning, with serious implications for the well-being of children and their academic growth.

  • Prolonged school closures are likely to have a major and negative affect on children’s learning, physical, social and mental health and well-being threatening hard-won educational achievements for years to come. Prolonged school closures will likely exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities among children, especially girls, children with disabilities, those in rural areas, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as those from poor households and fragile families. School closures have the potential to widen learning disparities and increase the risk of some learners permanently dropping out of school.

  • While the MoPSE is prioritizing the health and well-being of learners, teachers, staff and school communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted both the health and economic systems. To add to these challenges, schools, which traditionally fund their daily operations from user fees will likely be resource-constrained because of the inability of parents to pay school fees. Ensuring that all the pre-conditions for the safe re-opening of schools, including infection prevention and control measures, the provision of hygiene facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as adherence to physical spacing, and social distancing considerations in a context of increasing cases loads and a fragile economic context also represents significant risks. Without a well-resourced education and health systems, reopening schools remains a significant challenge. At the same time, protecting the right of every child to learn has never been more urgent.

  • The cluster is targeting 3.5 million learners at ECD to secondary school level through prioritization of activities.