The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has registered its disapproval to plans by State universities to administer this semester’s exams online using the google classroom platform.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Amon Murwirwa, ZINASU Secretary-General Tapiwanashe Chiriga said a lot of students do not have electronic gadgets to enable them to write the examinations online.
Chiriga argued that it would be unfair to disenfranchise the students who fully paid their fees from writing their exams for lack of laptops. Chiriga wrote:
We have noted several notices and communiques from state institutions of higher learning to the effect that this semester’s examinations will be taken online using the google classroom platform.
We would like to register our deepest disapproval to this elitist move that is meant to disenfranchise the poor of us who happen to constitute the majority of the students’ community. We object to online examinations and we would like to invite you to consider the following factors:
- A lot of students simply do not have the gadgets to enable them to access the said google classrooms for purposes of examinations. It would be a great injustice to deny them of their deserved right to sit for exams to end a semester they equally paid for, on account of poverty and a pandemic none of us invited.
- As you are obviously aware, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company has notified the entire nation of the decrease in power supply which will mean a lot of students will be affected by power cuts on examination day. It would be sad if students will be made to fail by tragedies, not of their making.
- Just as we cautioned against proceeding with online learning without providing students and lecturers with data bundles, we vehemently oppose and reject attempts to shut out the poor from examinations to end a semester they paid their all for, even beyond their capacity.
We believe it is within the capacity of your office to ensure that access to affordable education is not eroded simply by half-hearted attempts to save the calendar while excluding the majority of the students from the process.
We, therefore, ask that you direct institutions of higher learning to
- Find means to allow students to physically finish their semester as did some classes before the reintroduction of the stricter lockdown at the end of July 2020.
- Ensure that online learning platforms are accessible at a zero rate
- Provide data bundles to students as per their promises in May for purposes of revision
- Come up with an arrangement that allows students to access gadgets like tablets, phones and laptops through a loan facility that is payable over a long period of time.
We hope your office will treat this matter with the urgency it so deserves