ZBC to begin TV lessons in earnest, it probably will not work

Garikai Dzoma Avatar
ZBC Van, CEO, TV Zimbabwe, Digitisation, Digital TV 12 new TV stations, ZESA

According to the state owned Chronicle, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) has launched TV lessons as part of the government’s drive to make sure learning continues to take place even as we continue to plod through the pandemic. The lessons started on Monday apparently.

The current lesson program is as follows:

Level and learning areaTimeDays of airing
Grade 3 English3:00-3:15 PMMondays and Tuesdays
Grade 7 Maths3:15-3:30 PMWednesdays and Thursdays
Grade 7 English3:00-3:15 PMFridays

Keeping up appearances

I have to say I am not in the least way impressed. On the surface it appears the government is finally actually walking the talk and doing something that they promised they would do to help students continue to learn during the pandemic. What could possibly be wrong about that?

Well, apart from making the government look like they are doing something, I cannot think of any possible benefits of this program. The biggest problem the government has when it comes to launching TV lessons is the fact that they have spent the past 40 something years herding people towards their one and only TV stations. They have done everything in their power to maintain that monopoly.

Thanks to the fact that the entire nation has a single TV channel to its name, there are only so many lessons that can be conducted on this channel. We have to leave time for our media hogging government officials to show off their latest bin-opening ceremony. Then there are the jingles and the anything but impartial news coverage where the populace’s patriotism is questioned. Even a channel with such terrible programming has only so much time it can spare for TV lessons.

This latest gesture is like a drop in a desert. Just as you wouldn’t expect a thriving irrigation project out of a single little jet of water, don’t expect these lessons to do much really. 15 minutes of English per week-like seriously? And how did they come up with the grades that would get lessons? Don’t tell me they picked names out of a hat-although that wouldn’t be a terrible way to do it seeing as it is whatever they did would still fall short.

WhatsApp would be a better avenue

I know I am a critic of online WhatsApp learning but a lot of schools especially those covering middle to lower-income students, have successfully employed WhatsApp as a way of supplementing traditional learning during the COVID pandemic.

I honestly think this would be a far better way to engage with students. If only because there are no restrictions to the grades or forms you can target at any given time. No need to pick names out of a hat in here and lessons can be conducted every day. Students can also share videos and materials with their fellow students who do not have data.

If your argument against WhatsApp learning is that it will not reach students in some remote areas, the same can be said against TV lessons. There are plenty of areas that I know that do not get ZTV’s analogue signal and there are people without a TV set.

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  1. The Empress

    There is a scene in the movie Tropic Thunder where Les Grossman played by Tom Cruise tells his secretary that a trained monkey could do the secretary’s job….. Unfortunately in the case of the ZBC the monkeys running it were not even trained.
    Someone actually sat down and decided that 15 minutes per lesson was a good idea and it made sense. And Jesus wept 🤦🏾‍♂️

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