It’s no easy job training almost 9 000 learners while keeping COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.
But this is what 88 facilitators at Zambia’s 10 FutureLife-Now! schools were tasked with: Providing information to thousands of grade 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 learners about COVID-19 over an eight-day period while ensuring the safety of all concerned.
The training was part of an initiative that included protective materials made available by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), through its partners MIET AFRICA and Global Hope Mobilization (GLOHOMO).
Materials included face masks, soap, face shields, thermal scanners, water tanks, training materials and posters.
The hour long training sessions took place between September 30 and October 7 this year. Educators were supported by Sanny Mulubale, Zambia’s COVID-19 Emergency Response In-Country Coordinator, as well as the two youth facilitators already in place at each school.
Schools faced a number of challenges, but overall the training was a resounding success with training taking place over weekends and between study periods.
One of the factors contributing to the success of the training was the provision of face shields which meant that educators could talk freely and be easily understood while maintaining safety standards.
“These shields are endlessly reusable,” said an educator from Kapiri Tech Secondary. “They simply require washing with soap and water or a common disinfectant; they are more comfortable to wear and are good at blocking droplets. They also form a barrier that keeps me and my colleagues from easily touching our faces.”
A further initiative that proved successful was to have learners wash their hands and receive their masks prior to the training. “This made us curious,” said a grade 11 learner from Nakatete Secondary school, “We wanted to find out what was going to happen in the training.”
The training was not without its challenges. These included equipment shortages, a lack of large venues and therefore more sessions, and exhaustion on the part of educators after days of training small groups.
Eric Sinyangwe, Head Teacher at Naboye Secondary School, said training so many learners was challenging. “We split our classes into groups of 25 learners and our safety officers taught from 7am in the morning until 5.30pm. It was tiring but they worked very hard and successfully attended to all the learners.”
He added that it was worth the effort. “Learners stated they were grateful for the training and the items received. They are now more aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and measures to be undertaken to control the disease.”