Dudziro Nhengu, Africa University, Zimbabwe
COVID-19 brought multiple challenges to the education sector globally. While introduction of virtual learning advanced benefits such as lowered costs of education, greater flexibility, easy access and reduced need for physical infrastructure in economically viable nations, many economically challenged nations in the Global South experienced risks and challenges from online education. This study investigated the challenges faced by the Zimbabwe education sector in integrating effective virtual learning practice into the secondary school system in Harare Metropolitan province since the advent of Covid-19. A triangulation of research methods including an online survey and key informant interviews conducted with curriculum specialists, teachers and learners, and a review of available literature, aided the collection of primary and secondary data for the study. NVIVO and grounded theory were used to analyse and organise the compiled data into thematic data sets, which were in turn used to theorise befitting findings for the study. Study findings established an array of challenges which reinforced each other to hinder effective learning during the lockdown. Substantial academic and policy research has focused on health specific impacts of Covid-19, while a few studies that have explored the effect of Covid-19 on education have not zeroed in on the context specific geopolitical risks of the pandemic on countries with challenged economies. This study seeks to contribute to this knowledge gap. The study proffers recommendations for improving preparedness for virtual learning in secondary schools during crisis times.
Virtual, education tools, Covid-19, education, curricula & Zimbabwe