The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has rejected proposals by most institutions of higher learning courses to roll out e-learning programmes during the COVID-19 lockdown claiming it would discriminate other students with limited or no access to internet facilities.
By Harriet Chikandiwa
“The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and various institutions have proposed e-learning as a means of educating the students,” the student representatives’ body said in a statement.
“It is a very noble idea indeed, however, the vast majority of students have no access to reliable electricity and network connections considering that only 41% of Zimbabwe has access to electricity as stated by the national electricity suppliers (ZETDC) and an even smaller share has access to mobile networks.”
Students are one of the groups of people to be affected by the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 that has wreaked havoc in the world, killing over 128 000 and afflicting over two million globally. Zimbabwe has 18 confirmed cases and three deaths.
Zinasu said the high cost of data made it more difficult and expensive for some students to adapt to the e-learning model.
“To those with access to both, electricity and mobile networks, the prices of data are way beyond the reach of many, considering that one webinar costs around $100 which is a good fraction of the earnings of a civil servant.”
Some high school students have adopted the e-learning model. Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe recently launched an online school to keep pupils learning during the lockdown period.