“We missed our teachers, they were very friendly and helped us solve the complex exercises, but with the coronavirus, we need to adapt and learn to solve our exercises alone at home,” says Alzira Ngomane, 17 years old, and her brother Amilcar Ngomane, 14, from the Albazine district, in the city of Maputo, Mozambique.
Since their school was closed in March 2020 as a preventive measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alzira and Amilcar are now studying at home using the television programme Telescola da Televisão de Moçambique (TVM).
Every afternoon at 3 p.m., Alzira and Amilcar place their notebooks on the small wooden table in their living room and turn on the television to follow the classes broadcast by TVM. Both recognize that it is not the same as being in a classroom with their colleagues and teachers. But despite the short 30-minute lessons they can remember some subjects and do their exercises.
Alzira studies at Escola Secundária Eduardo Mondlane, in 12th grade, and dreams of being a civil engineer. Her school closed 6 months ago when the Government of Mozambique declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.
“I try to maintain a routine while I’m at home: wake up and do my housework, then study and watch Telescola. Without Telescola, it would be difficult to understand the subjects and solve some exercises. The teachers who participate in Telescola clarify many of my doubts, and I can do the exercise sheets they give us at school and also can better understand the subject,” says Alzira.
“At school, it was easier to get answers to my questions because we had the teacher present. At home it is more difficult to study and concentrate. I dream of being an architect because I like to draw. I know I need to go to school to achive my dream, and, with the schools closed, Telescola is helping me to continue studying at home so that I can continue working to make my dream come true,” says Amilcar.
To support the continuity of children’s learning during school closings, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with funding from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), is supporting Telescola television education and radio education programmes, including translation into local languages and broadcast on community radio. For example, TVM broadcasts about 1.5 to 2.5 hours of Telescola per day to support the continuity of learning for children in primary and secondary education. During COVID-19, school closings and movement restrictions continued in Mozambique, making it difficult for millions of children to learn. Until September 2020, the government had not yet decided on the reopening of primary and secondary schools.
Constância Guiama, 56, is one of several teachers who accepted the challenge of teaching at Telescola.
“This experience has been an asset both for the teachers who participate and for those students who accompany them, too. I have been part of the Telescola programme since its inception in 2005, so when schools closed due to the coronavirus it only made sense to return to teaching and supporting students through Telescola,” says Constância.
Professor Constância also uses digital platforms to teach and support her students. Once a week she teaches using the Zoom application, so she can have face-to-face interaction with her students. Some of their students are unable to participate in online classes due to the financial situation that does not always allow them to access the Internet.
“I receive complaints from some of my students that they cannot access the Internet to participate in my Zoom calls or read my explanations on WhatsApp, so Telescola helps to solve this problem.”
Herika Manhiça, 17, and her sister Laurina Manhiça, 12, are also using Telescola to study and learn from home. They live in the neighborhood of Mahotas, in the city of Maputo. Herika studies at Laulane Secondary School in 12th grade, and her sister studies at Estrela do Oriente Primary School in 7th grade. Both share the same dream of becoming doctors.
“Our day is different now, we have to be quarantined at home, and we learned that we always have to wear a mask if we want to go outside and wash our hands with soap and water to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. As soon as the coronavirus started, our school closed, and they gave us exercise sheets so we could study at home. It was difficult to do some of the exercises without support because some subjects were new. But with Telescola, it became easier because, through our television, we can learn all the new subjects and the teachers also teach us how to solve some difficult exercises. We all thought that the coronavirus would pass quickly and that we were going to go back to school soon, but unfortunately, that is not the case now,” says Herika.
With what she learned at Telescola, Herika decided to teach her younger sister and her friends at home: “I use the gate of my house to teach them. If I know how to read, I have to teach others to read too,” says Herika.