The Ministry, in collaboration with UNICEF, has unveiled 13 Early Learning Children’s storybooks as part of the catch up strategy introduced to address the learning gaps resulting from the COVID-19 induced school closures. The storybooks which are meant to support Early Childhood Development (ECD) have been printed into English, Shona and Ndebele with three titles already having braille versions to cater for children with visual impairments. 200000 copies of the storybooks have been printed and are earmarked for distribution to communities, especially in rural areas. There are also talking audio versions of the books available at: https://mopsezw.learningpassport.unicef.org
Aimed at promoting foundational literacy and numeracy skills, the storybooks are, unlike other books, not meant for the teacher, but are designed in a way that enhances community engagement and parenting strategies. As such, accompanying the books is a caregiver’s guide to assist parents and guardians as they explore the stories with their children in the comfort of their homes.
The storybooks were presented to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Honourable Cain Mathema, at a launch in Harare by the UNICEF country representative Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale who applauded the Ministry for implementing the Early Reading Initiative (ERI) and underscored UNICEF’s readiness to support such initiatives meant to enhance early literacy and numeracy.
Honourable Mathema noted that with the Ministry having embraced blended or hybrid learning in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency, the storybooks will give learners in marginalized communities a valuable resource to use at home.
“Ministry has embraced blended learning or hybrid learning where learning is now facilitated both in-class and out of the classroom including the home. Learning now must take place everywhere and the availability of teaching and learning materials in the hands of the learner will ensure that they can cover good ground even at home. The hard copies are particularly useful to learners who have challenges in accessing digital platforms, “he said.
The Minister was especially impressed by the storybook model which he said was in line with the Ministry’s focus on community engagement and parenting strategies and commended UNICEF and the FCDO for their support in the production and printing of the books.
Also witnessing the launch was Ben Cattermoul from the British Embassy who reiterated the UK government’s commitment to supporting quality education for all children in Zimbabwe and to leave no child behind.
The development mechanisms of the storybooks followed a consultative and multi-sectoral approach, involving sister ministries and departments, associations focusing on facilitating learning for children with disabilities, civil society and education partners resulting in content that is culturally and developmentally appropriate for children in school and those yet to enroll.
Some of the titles in the series of Storybooks include Ubaba Wami, Nhapitapi Kumusha and I Miss My Mama among others.