The government of Zimbabwe has approved the schools’ e-learning strategy that is aimed at quickening the adoption of information communication technologies (ICTs).
It is projected that through the National e-Learning Strategy for Schools in Zimbabwe that is scheduled to run from this year until 2025, about 3 000 teachers will receive training on ICTs by June this year.
The strategy is also premised on connecting 1 500 learning institutions to the internet before year-end.
The overall objective of the e-learning strategy is to industrialise the country through the use of information communication technologies.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday night that the strategy also seeks to ensure that schools in remote areas of the country get access to online learning equipment. She said:
The 2021 National e-Learning Programme has the following targets: connection of 1 500 schools to the broadband; electrification of 434 schools; manufacture of up to 150 000 devices as per order by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education; development of mobile applications for use on the existing e-Learning management system within 45 days; e-Learning content development by instructional designers which should be in place by June 2021; capacitation of 3 000 teachers with basic digital skills by December 2021; and delivery of e-Learning through audios, videos and text (multimedia) interactive materials.
The success of the online learning initiative for rural communities will be premised on the expansion and upgrading of the broadband infrastructure; the acquisition of standardised gadgets for schools; the development and delivery of content, a federated content hosting approach to optimize and cut down on the cost of access; the importing of basic digital skills to educators (capacity building) and the availability of resources for the roll-out of the programme.
Minister Mutsvangwa said parastatals such as the Potraz, TelOne, NetOne and the ZARNET are key in the implementation of the national e-learning strategy.
She said POTRAZ will continue providing e-learning gadgets to schools, particularly in rural areas, under the Connect a School-Connect a Community Programme formulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The government will also establish dedicated radio and television channels for e-learning purposes.
Some observers believe the strategy would have worked well if the rural electrification programme which is underway was complete since gadgets such as computers are dependent upon the availability of power.
The strategy is likely to bring smiles to rural dwellers who have for long argued that the digital divide between rural and urban schools was a significant attribute of poor records in most of the rural schools.