Rising above the Covid-19 storm

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on everyday life, the International School of Walvis Bay (ISWB) was hard at work to educate its learners.

08 September 2020 | Education

LEANDREA LOUW

Henda Meyer, principal of ISWB, says during the past few months the world population of nearly eight billion people has been brought almost to its knees by a microscopic virus, an invisible nemesis whose origins are rooted in a fundamental disconnect between people and the environment.

“The virus has caused untold chaos and misery and exposed the fragility of our present way of life; however, it has also presented us with a golden opportunity to think about our predicament of ensuring a seamless transition from ‘in class’ teaching to virtual face-to-face teaching. Unsurprisingly, there is no roadmap or procedure manuals to rely on, we had to make it up on the spot.

“With the help and support from Cambridge, parents and a group of unbelievably resilient teachers, we believe we have solved most of the pitfalls and challenges, albeit not without a steep learning curve for both teachers and students. We were soon ready to continue offering our students the same quality education as they were used to when they could visit the school campus daily.”

She explained that all the teachers, who are more than 30, worked every day since the start of the lockdown in mid-March to bring education to the students of ISWB.

“The first step was to identify core areas of gaps: weak or no internet, no electronic devices, only one device in a family of four school-going kids, and so many more. Then we started solving those by getting everyone on board: upgrading our bandwidth; providing desktop computers to those students without devices; creating online lessons, Zoom classes, videos, quizzes and even tests; providing weekly activity packs and marking it over weekends.”

She says teachers worked non-stop to make sure they provided the same high-quality lessons they would in class.

“The same diligence was applied to make sure the work is done. The councillor was available at any time, day or night, and relentlessly contacted students who showed no progress or who were falling behind. We were not drowning but soaring.”

Meyer says once the restrictions were lifted, they started taking in small groups of students, especially those who struggled or who will be writing their final examination at the end of the year.

“In order to do that we had to create a totally safe environment with sanitising guidelines and social distancing measures, and a first-aid room completely equipped with full PPE, just in case. We can say with confidence, we have had no reported cases among our students or teachers.

“We are proud to say we have reached nearly 100% of our students and we were able to complete online continuous assessments resulting in progress reports at the end of each trimester. We are currently on par with our Cambridge syllabuses across all grades and our final-year students are ready to write their school-leaver examinations starting 1 October in our Cambridge-accredited examination centre.”

Meyer says with a rise in the demand for high-quality education, ISWB, as a fully accredited CIE institution, will now offer a wealth of both approaches: enrolling at ISWB for the highest qualification in Namibia, or obtaining a Cambridge internationally recognised IGCSE or A Level qualification through a blended approach.

“This basically entails the student being in the actual class for at least 50% of the time, while the rest of the classes are delivered via platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom and Google Classrooms.

“Our library consists of 18 subjects, offered via self-study courses, learning through face-to- face teaching, as well as classroom blended options. Subjects include English First Language, Mathematics Extended, English Second Language, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Music, German, Design and Technology, Business Studies, Economics, Accounting, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, Phycology and Environmental Management.”

All courses are accredited and assigned to ensure learners obtain an International qualification. The school can be contacted for more information.

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