BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Government has urged mobile operators to provide affordable internet services to schools to enhance access to e-learning.
“Government recently launched the national e-learning strategy for schools to complement traditional forms of learning, to mitigate disruptions to the education sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Jenfan Muswere said in a speech to commemorate World Telecommunications and Information Society Day.
“As we move along with implementation of the e-learning programme, we have noted that a number of schools are finding it difficult to fund their respective e-learning programmes on account of the unaffordable internet bandwidth.”
Muswere said a number of schools, mostly in the rural areas, were failing to fund e-learning programmes because internet services were unaffordable.
“I call upon the network service providers to look for a sustainable solution to the affordability challenge bedevilling our schools, in particular rural schools,” he said, adding that COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in a surge in the use of the internet among citizens due to the growing need for provision of services online.
However, Muswere said some schools with connectivity were not utilising the services because they could not afford internet costs.
The minister commended the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for enhancing access to e-learning to learners through providing internet data for 400 schools across the country in a programme which runs from May to December 2021.
Potraz is also providing computers to schools throughout the country to assist pupils in underprivileged communities to access education online.
“As evidenced in the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of ICTs in all aspects of life as they have kept societies and economies functional and to some extent sustainable.
“This has, however, resulted in an unparalleled surge in the use of the internet in providing e-services, which include learning, shopping, worshipping and acquiring health services, among others,” Muswere said.