EVEN though the pass rate in Mutare marginally dropped during the COVID-19 period, the district continues to enjoy a pass rate above 60%, while the number of adolescent girls, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) who remained in school has increased at the back of education and parenting interventions being implemented by the Family AIDS Caring Trust (FACT), a top government official has said.
By Michael Gwarisa in Mutare
Through the Children Tariro (CT) project, FACT has been implementing education and parenting programs in Mutare, Mutasa and Chipinge districts with the aim of ensuring that all school going aged OVC and Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in the identified communities are enrolled, retained and progress in school so as to reduce opportunities for them to indulge in behaviors that put them at risk of contracting HIV.
Speaking to Journalists on the side-lines of an ongoing media tour of the Children Tariro and DREAMS initiatives being implemented by FACT, Mr Edson Mapungwana, the Mutare Urban Schools Inspector in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said they have registered a number of positives from the FACT interventions.
FACT is doing a wonderful job in Mutare Districts, FACT assisted our vulnerable learners in our various schools both at primary level and secondary level. Statistically, FACT helped over 3,800 learners belonging to DREAMS program then for the OVCs it was around 2000. We thank FACT a lot because our learners befitted,” said Mr Mapungwana.
He added that the learners who benefited came out of 164 schools both primary and secondary. The organisation, FACT also helped learners by paying school fees, school levies, buying school Uniforms, text books and also procured Information Technology (IT) gadgets for virtual learning purposes to aid pupils during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
“During this COVID-19 era when our learners could not have adequate time to attend lessons at school, we saw the learners being given some mobile phone accompanied by the data. Even the teachers were also given the data so communication between the learners and the teacher could carry on. This helped a lot because our learners were learning even our school were schools during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“In terms of the pass rate, there were remarkable positive outcomes because Mutare districts did not go down a lot. In fact it went down just by 1% just last year. We kept on with our pass rate. Usually the districts plays around 64% pass rate. Had FACT not been there, obviously we could have attained this pass rate, you can see by the number of school where FACT made this interventions, the pass rate was kept as a very high rate.”
In 2020, with support from PEPFAR through USAID, the FACT Children Tariro project came to the rescue of 15,002 Education Assistance beneficiaries by procuring and distributing textbooks to help them learn while at home. The value of the textbooks procured was US$670, 660.58. FACT Zimbabwe also supported 11,890 learners by procuring and distributing simple smart at a total cost of US$349, 570.00 with a bid to enable them to access virtual learning platforms as well as participate in home work club activities in line with MoPSE blended learning approaches.
Mr Edmond Nyakanda, the Parenting Coordinator FACT said they also introduced homework clubs where they supported schools to establish homework club groups for learners to support each other to learn from home during COVID19 induced lockdowns. Interaction was via WhatsApp, SMS and voice calls as learners participated in homework club activities.
“A total of 13,661 learners and 1,707 home work club facilitators received airtime and data support from FACT. Linked learners to MoPSE approved Education websites for online lessons and educational materials e.g. Ruzivo and Learning Passport
“As an innovation to enable learners to continue learning while at home during COVID-19 induced school closures, FACT partnered with MoPSE to develop and air 150 secondary school radio lessons on Diamond FM and National FM. Supported information dissemination on radio lessons broadcast schedules through WhatsApp groups at community level. Participated in the development and airing of radio slots on positive parenting to assist parents with information to help them care for their children during COVID lockdowns,” he said.
Meanwhile, Getrude Shumba, the FACT Zimbabwe Executive Director said even though implementation of both the Children Tariro and DREAMS projects were reaching the final lap, they had attained great milestones in violence prevention, HIV Testing Services, Maternal health care, education support, child protection and economic strengthening.
Since 2015, FACT Zimbabwe through the Safeguarding and Sustainable Livelihoods pillar has been implementing the Children Tariro (CT) programme and DREAMS initiative which targeted OVC and their caregivers; and AGYW respectively. Both initiatives sought to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS by providing comprehensive and sustainable continuum of services to communities contributing towards the realisation of the UNAIDS set and PEPFAR adopted 95-95-95 targets towards HIV epidemic control in Zimbabwe.