Teachers unions have criticised the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for not availing resources to enable teachers and learners to access online learning platforms. The unions were reacting to an announcement by the ministry that more learners were enrolling on the Learning Passport online.
The Learning Passport is an online learning platform unveiled by UNICEF and Microsoft as a solution to close the learning gap – a tech platform enabling high quality, flexible learning. It addresses the challenges faced by millions of children and youth worldwide to access continued, quality education in times of crisis and when access is limited to traditional learning.
The Zimbabwean school calendar was disrupted in March 2020 when the country went on lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, resulting in schools resorting to online learning platforms.
The education ministry claimed that more learners were enrolling on the Learning Passport and for schools without access to the internet, efforts were being made to provide the learning material in print format.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou in an interview with CITE said the government had not made any efforts to capacitate learning institutions with resources to be able to effectively implement online learning.
“The government has not done much to ensure maximum implementation of such reforms in the education sector. Teachers and learners are not able to make use of these platforms. There was no engagement with stakeholders from the education sector, had they consulted us we would have guided them on how to effectively execute this program,” said Zhou.
“Right now about 80% of the schools countrywide have no internet access so there is no way the Learning Passport can be a success. At first there was the talk of television and radio lessons, a few schools managed to get four radios each which is way below the capacity of affecting that type of learning.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) acting spokesperson Thembakuye Moyo reiterated that for online learning to be a success the government must avail resources.
“There are no gadgets for both teachers and learners to facilitate online learning. Schools do not have internet access. The government must fund these programs to ensure that such programs can be a success,” Moyo said.
“The claims by the government that they are providing printed material for schools without internet connectivity is only lip service. On the ground, schools have not received anything from the government.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology