The Polytechnic School Cuanza Norte
ADPP’s polytechnic education, referred to as EPP, from the Portuguese Escola Polivalente e. Profissional, was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to increase access to post-primary education, and to equip young people to contribute to development. EPP Cuanza Norte, which forms part of Cuanza Norte Educational Centre in Lucala, has been offering this form of education since 2012.
Every year, the school holds a graduation ceremony for the students who complete their 9th Grade exams and practical tests successfully. On 15 January, prior to the start of the academic year 2020, the school held such a ceremony for 54 students, who completed their 9th Grade at the end of 2019.
At the beginning of the year, EPP Cuanza Norte enrolled 291 students. The target was to enrol 70 students per grade, but these targets were greatly exceeded. In February, 7th Grade initiated their academic and vocational training. At 97, the number of students enrolled was well beyond expectations. 8th Grade, with 115 students enrolled, began learning more about their chosen profession, in the workshop, in the school kitchen and in the vegetable garden, with at least 10 theory and three practical lessons for each group in the short time the school was open during February and March. Work experience was the first highlight of 9th Grade, although there was only time to organise the 79 students in trios and contact the businesses, institutions and work places where they would spend this period. At the confirmation of the Covid-19 pandemic, work experience was put on hold until later in the year.
Young Farmers’ Clubs, a project sponsored by the French Embassy in Angola, involved 50 students on the Food Producer course, 10 girls and 40 boys. Activities this semester included establishing a vegetable garden.
The declaration of a state of emergency, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, resulted in all schools closing. EPP Cuanza Norte students returned to their homes, from where they continued studying thanks to the implementation of distance learning whereby their teachers prepared and sent assignments every week. The following report includes more information about this, together with a brief account of activities prior to the state of emergency.
Before the students and staff left the school when the state of emergency was declared, initial steps were taken to prepare for distance learning, such as the creation of a group page on Facebook as a means of communication. Once the students were at home, the teachers kept in touch by telephone, via the group page on Facebook and by visiting those who lived nearby. They went to many of the communities where students were living to gain an accurate picture of the situation, make sure everyone knew about the Facebook page and develop alternatives because a large number of the students did not have telephones. In some cases, arrangements were made with the parents so they passed on the study tasks being posted on Facebook. In addition to resolving study tasks, the students carried out small-scale Covid-19 campaigns within their families and among immediate neighbours. Among the assignments they received were the production of posters, the installation of tippy taps for hand washing and mobilisation on the use of facemasks.
The school worked towards reopening, respecting all prevention measures while preparing the classrooms and installing hand washing posts. Plans were being made for catching up activities and lessons that could not be held during the period of confinement and for organising the students in reduced class sizes. With respect to reopening, as in the previous phase, the school collaborated with all relevant authorities.
During the period of distance learning, the parents were very supportive and collaborated on the education of their children. A number of parents will have problems regarding school fees, because their sources of income were affected by the state of emergency. Others expressed concerns about sending their children to school before the coronavirus is eliminated, to which the school responded that, as a very well-organized institution, the solution is to learn to live with the pandemic because the end is still a long way off.