by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE is intensifying an ambitious project to digitise its schools, as part of efforts to shield the education sector from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and maintain the country’s position as one of Africa’s most literate nations.
Children at primary school level are central to the project.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has enrolled 1,5 million pupils under its online programme.
Minister Cain Mathema confirmed the development.
He urged parents to support this initiative while an official proclamation is awaited for the reopening of schools.
Schools, colleges and universities were shut down on March 24. It is uncertain when they will reopen.
“A total of 1,5 million pupils have access to online education thanks to our partnership with Higherlife Foundation and we are not stopping there,” Mathema said.
“Let us work together to ensure no one is left out even those in rural schools because this pandemic is not of our creation. We cannot relax and do nothing about our education because we do not know when this will end,” Mathema said.
The minister disclosed that a total of 3060 information, communication and technology (ICT) gadgets including laptops, iPads and projectors had meanwhile been delivered to 60 primary schools in Lupane in the Matabeleland North Province to aid this programme.
The scheme is run in conjunction with the Higherlife Foundation, a philanthropist organisation of mobile network entrepreneur and billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa.
Masiyiwa is the major shareholder of Econet, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator.
Together with his wife, Tsitsi, they run the Higherlife Foundation through the Ruzivo (Knowledge) platform.
The programme with the government started last month and has been expanded with no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministries of ICT, Postal and Courier Services and Higher Education, Innovation, Science and Technology have also embraced online education in tertiary institutions.
The tertiary institutions have been encouraged to devise online lectures.
Mathema also allayed parents’ fears amid the uncertainty around the final Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations, some of which were scheduled in June.
Exams set for June have been pushed forward by four weeks.
“There is no need to panic on the examinations,” the minister said.
“We stand guided by his Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa on that and we will not risk lives of our children,” Mathema assured.
Zimbabwe has 36 cases and four deaths from COVID-19 confirmed cases as of the beginning of the week.
While it is open to debate, Zimbabwe’s literacy rate is lauded as the highest in Africa.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, it stands at 94 percent, surpassing most of the developed nations in the world.
– CAJ News