By Cuthbert Mashoko
Rutenga-The recurring ugly face of Climate Change induced disasters as witnessed in heat waves, cyclones, floods and hailstorms has negatively impacted humanity in all facets of life and the education sector has not been spared.
Loss of human life, destruction of infrastructure, loss of valuable learning and teaching time are among some of the losses that the education sector has been left to count due to the adverse effects of Climate Change.
With climate change, seasons have largely become unpredictable. Weather conditions have registered their harsh face in extremes. It is this which has given birth to heat waves, during what traditionally used to be normal hot dry seasons.
On the other hand, winter season has given learners and the teaching staff a torrid time. Very low temperatures have been experienced across the country. In some parts of the country it had been worse due to light showers.
It is against this background that the education sector needs to beef up measures to mitigate the devastating effects of the unfavorable weather patterns posed by Climate Change which threaten to derail teaching and learning processes.
Prolonged chilly winter seasons have registered a fair share of challenges on the education sector. Very low temperatures have resulted in frost in some parts of the country leading to chilly temperatures and high drop outs of school children especially in primary schools in the rural areas.
The absence of temperature regulators like air conditioners in schools has seen learners being exposed to severe cold temperatures. This has the possibility of sparking the spread of respiratory infections.
Ceiling the roof of classrooms and also use of temperature regulators such as air-conditioning devices are possible ways which schools have to embark on in ensuring that learners are subjected to favourable temperatures while learning.
Temperature regulators used to be viewed as luxury in the past but with Climate Change they have turned to be a necessity.
Inadequate infrastructure remains a thorn in the flesh to a number of schools as evidenced by use of tree shades to conduct lessons. With the chilly winter, such conditions are not conducive at all to teaching and learning.
In this view, a robust drive towards building of modern classrooms that give comfort to the teaching staff and learners is a vital cog. This calls upon the government to directly fund and support the construction of modern structures.
It is a pity that most boarding schools do not have devices for warming water for learners. This entails that with this cold learners are forced to take a cold bath. This should be food for thought to all the powers that be at schools as they ensure that learners have access to warm water for bathing. Installing solar powered geysers might be a step in the right direction given the abundant sunlight which Zimbabwe is blessed with.
As winter waves goodbye, the hot season comes with its share of challenges.
The scorching high temperatures that usually clock to 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country like in Mwenezi, Chipinge, Chiredzi and Beitbridge as a result of heat waves are unbearable to learners and the teaching staff.
These temperatures cause dizziness among the learners and teachers. This is bound to affect the concentration span of the learners and the teachers, a fate which retards the pace at which the teachers and learners cover concepts leading to inadequate preparations for examinations.
ln some cases teachers and the learners withstand the harsh temperatures while in the shades of trees, due to shortage of classrooms .The hardest hit being satellite schools. It is against this backdrop that there is need for a robust drive towards the construction of ideal learning and teaching infrastructure in schools.
This will ensure that learners are well sheltered during learning and teaching hours.
Apart from high temperatures causing dizziness, high temperatures are peculiar to skin diseases. By nature children enjoy playing, Often times they brave the scorching temperatures as they play in the sun.
As such, provision of skin protection lotions to the young children in primary schools might save the innocent souls from skin rush. Hot summer season is also associated with a rise in cases of headaches due to dehydration.
Constant up take of liquids should be a must to keep the learners hydrated. Energy drinks such as ‘maheu’ and constant intake of water might help to keep the learners hydrated.
This calls for the needy to supply the learners with energy drinks in all the schools in times of the unfavorable temperatures. Furthermore, introduction of water breaks at intervals to ensure that learners are kept hydrated can be a necessary counter measure to the dangers posed by high temperatures. Against this background, this calls for schools to have reliable safe sources of running water.
Destruction of infrastructure and property in schools due to hailstorms has been cyclical due to the advent of climate change.
Valuable teaching and learning material in schools had been lost due to floods and hailstorms.
It is unfortunate that in some cases life had been lost. Schools need to adopt structures that are pro to the changing weather patterns.
For instance the use of zinc sheets when roofing. This might minimize the damage to the roof in the event of hailstorms. Effective drainage systems at schools can serve the schools from floods.
Tree plantations around the school can be effective wind breaks. Learners who cross rivers to and from school should be warned not to cross flooded rivers and where necessary footbridges need to be constructed so that learners do not lose lessons due to flooded rivers.
More so, schools must have disaster assembling points which are safe. This calls for the needy to familiarize the learners and teachers on how to react in the event of a disaster at school. Disaster management workshops at schools might be a step in the right direction in equipping the learners and the teachers with ways of reacting in times of disasters.