Zimbabwe rural school children are expected to benefit from an information and communication technology (ICT) facility that will be implemented in Mazowe District by local businesses in partnership with relevant government departments.
The Libtech initiative, a pilot project launched Thursday at Kundai High School in Concession, Mazowe, aims to provide learners with low-cost data and improve telecommunications infrastructure in and around schools to support online learning.
It is planned to extend the whole program to about 8,000 rural schools.
Netone Group Chief Operating Officer Jeremiah Munembe said, “The product we have partnered with Libtech is to provide learners with data packages and this is in line with NDS1 where we want to ensure that we offer educational and even smart agricultural solutions.
“As a partner of this online education project, we provide connectivity and also provide affordable data to students which will help them away from the office as well. During COVID-19 or other pandemic times, they can access their online learning platforms.”
“We actually want to roll it out nationally if all goes well, but we’re going to replicate what we’ve done here for every school.
“The partnership that we have here, you’ve seen the capability partners that we have – NetOne, National Tested Seeds, the Department of ICT and the Department of Education, so those are the three partners that we will be partnering with.”
The initiative comes at an opportune time for the local community and learners facing high costs of e-learning, while bridging the rural-urban digital divide.
“We are satisfied with this initiative and it is also in line with NDS1, which the president has always spoken about and which the government is committed to,” lawyer Norbert Mazungunye said.
Tadiwa Rumuko, a student, said, “It will really help a lot because we are doing the classes online and this and that. It is actually very good. We even have data packets and it will be easy.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted contact teaching and necessitated online learning.
However, rural learners have faced challenges posed by the high costs of ICT equipment and services, as government and private actors strive to fill the void.