The Polytechnic School Cazenga, Luanda
The school started in 1991 as The School for Street Children in Luanda, teaching orphans and street children from 1st to 6th Grade. In 2002, the school added 7th and 8th Grade then in 2006, it became a secondary school with teaching from 7th to 9th Grade only, in order to meet the growing need for secondary education in the area. Since 2011, the school has offered two distinct programs: traditional secondary school from 7th to 9th Grade, taught in two shifts, morning and afternoon, and the EPP program for 7th, 8th and 9th Grade, taught as an all-day education. 37 EPP students successfully finished their training at the end of 2019 bringing the total number of young people to complete the EPP programme to 322.
The new academic year began on 5 February, with 7th Grade students receiving an introduction to their programme. 90 students enrolled in 7th Grade. 8th Grade initiated their different courses of Community Health Agent and Information and Media Assistant while 9th Grade made practical use of everything they were learning on their courses. All three grades studied the national curriculum, with extra lessons in Portuguese and mathematics for those at risk of falling behind. STEM training as part of phase 2 of ADPP’s project to improve the teaching of science and mathematics was due to start this semester, but most activities were postponed until later. Teaching staff spent 26 to 28 January preparing for this and carrying out practical experiments to be ready for giving lessons. There was little time to develop the full range of activities that characterize EPP Cazenga because of the state of emergency and the closure of schools. However, distance learning implemented by the school ensured that all the students could continue studying and that they could organize actions at home as well as in their immediate neighbourhoods. Despite the exceptional circumstances characterizing the first semester of 2020, the development of distance learning was a major achievement. An equally important achievement was the enrolment of 95 students in 7th Grade and 69 in 8th Grade.
On the closure of schools as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, EPP Cazenga organized distance learning for all three grades. The teachers prepared and sent study tasks and assignments by way of Facebook or email, depending on what access the students or their parents had to social media or internet.
The majority of teachers had access to internet and were members of a group page on Facebook, as were many of the students. This facilitated the sending of tasks. Each grade had a group page to communicate with their respective teachers. For the students who were unable to use this digital system, the school organized more traditional methods of notebooks and printed material, whereby the students collected tasks at the school and handed in their work for evaluation. On a practical front, the students were encouraged to conduct campaigns on Covid-19 by way of posters.
In preparation for the opening of schools, EPP Cazenga purchased cleaning materials to ensure strict hygiene when the students returned. During the period of confinement, the parents collaborated with the school and expressed their pleasure at being contacted on a regular basis.