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COVID-19 poses dilemmas for education

COVID-19 poses dilemmas for education

by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (CAJ News)
EDUCATION is bearing the brunt of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as the subsequent lockdowns governments have put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Zimbabwe’s schools and tertiary institutions have not been spared the restrictions and remain closed amid lack of clarity as to when they will re-open their doors.

Indications that the national Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations will proceed as usual in June and November have elicited panic from parents and students alike.

One of the country’s leading mobile telecommunications companies has introduced an online programme that is anticipated to resolve the crisis, but it is by no means the panacea.

Higherlife Foundation is the initiative by Econet Wireless, run by telecommunications mogul, Strive Masiyiwa, and his wife, Tsitsi.

It is anticipated the Ruzivo (Knowledge) platform that will assist students to continue with their studies as schools remain closed during the lockdown.

Tumisang Thabela, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, welcomed the partnership with Higherlife.

“Learners are advised to log onto the Ruzivo platform for study material and other educational related materials. Our partner Higherlife is availing this at zero rate,” she said.

However, with Zimbabwe’s rural areas lagging behind the urban centres in the fourth industrial revolution, the offering will not be available to students in the remote areas of the country.

Rural areas do not have access to the internet.

Thus, the computer donations by the late President Robert Mugabe, are gathering dust with most of rural schools and communities lacking access to electricity.

While urban schools can access the internet, the fact that class gathering are suspended during lockdowns is a further dilemma.

This also casts doubts on sittings for June examinations if lockdowns are extended as is a possibility.

Thabela said her ministry was exploring measures to engage students and parents on the way forward.

“Guardians are encouraged to urge their children to continue studying hard,” she said.

Meanwhile, the ministry (Education), through the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) is also racing against time to finalise registration of students for the June and November examinations.

They have devised an electronic platform for the submission of candidates’ entry data and proof of payment.

This situation will likely again affect those schools in the rural areas, which are without internet access.

This could mean rural school heads must physically transport that data to their regional and provincial offices for onward transmission to ZIMSEC.

– CAJ News

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