Covid-19: Vic Falls school loses 500 learners

By Judith Sibanda

Over 500 learners at Victoria Falls’ Mosi-Oa-Tunya High School have dropped out of school since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year.

The shocking figures were revealed by the school head Roland Sibanda at the recently held Secretary’s Merit Award who said the situation was aggravated by the loss of employment in the tourism sector, especially in Victoria Falls.

“The enrolment has been steadily increasing over the years, but however, the school has been adversely affected by the raging scourge of Covid-19 which resulted in the closure of major tourism companies,” Sibanda told government officials who had attended the school’s 2017 belated merit award event.

“By implication, most parents relocated to places like Hwange to search for greener pastures and consequently our enrolment has dropped from 1 700 to 1140 with 545 males and 595 females.”

This is despite the school having about 60 percent of the Lower sixes enrolling for science subjects.

According to a recent report by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) globally, around 131 million schoolchildren in 11 countries have missed three-quarters of their in-person learning from March 2020 to September 2021, which UNICEF summed it as “a pandemic that has created a shadow crisis for children”.

The organisation says, for some, apart from dropping out, many have found themselves exposed to abuse and violence, isolation, increased anxiety, child labour and forced marriages as parents have been struggling to meet their needs.

“Many parents have been unable to continue with their employment while balancing their children’s needs,” UNICEF noted in their September report.

“Some have lost their jobs entirely, pushing their families into poverty and creating a deeper economic crisis.”

While remote learning has been a lifeline for millions of school children, access to the technology and the quality of the curriculum have been uneven, even within communities and school districts, UNICEF noted calling for the government to implement inclusive learning policy framework.

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