By Trevor Makonyonga
With the closure of schools due to COVID-19 pandemic, government has come up with a national e-learning strategy that is set to benefit both rural and urban schools.
Cabinet approved the National e-Learning Strategy in the first quarter of 2021 and now looks set to provide about 400 schools together with their communities with free internet access.
Speaking at a post cabinet briefing, Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said, “The objective of the National e-Learning is to transform the education sector through the development of adequate technological capacity for both learners and educators regardless of geographical location or economic circumstance.
“The Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services wishes to accelerate the implementation of the National e-Learning Strategy through the provision of free internet services to 400 schools that already have connectivity but are encountering difficulties in paying monthly bandwidth subscriptions. The schools will be provided with data for nine months. An additional 180 rural schools will have been connected by the end of 2021 and will benefit from the same initiative.”
In addition to the provision of free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres, Government will meet all operational expenses, inclusive of staff remuneration.
“Taking into cognizance the financial hardships brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, Cabinet wishes to advise the citizenry that all students, pupils and the general public using these facilities will enjoy free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres for a period of nine months. Members of the public will, however, continue to pay for the other services such as printing, scanning and photocopying that are offered at these facilities,” said the information ministry.
According to the government, Community Information Centres in Cities, Towns and at major Growth Points will support students, pupils, and youths with free internet in order to o spur e-learning, e-commerce and innovation. These initiatives will be implemented through the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).
The overall objective of GIGA in Zimbabwe is to connect every school to the internet and afford every young person access to information. The GIGA project will be rolled out in all provinces.