E-learning, A Mirage for Schools in Majoyi, Nkayi

Despite all the generalised talk about Zimbabwe doing well in rolling out its e-learning program, online learning is still a far fetched, improbable idea for areas around Nkayi that are suffering a serious disadvantage in terms of accessing the digital world.

Locals in Majoyi and part of the Gwampa area are calling on the Government of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) to desist from generalisation when making decisions on the readiness for schools and learners to sit for GCE O’ and A’ level examinations.

While it is a welcome gesture by government to make efforts in trying to help learners weather the Covid 19 lockdowns’ storm by dint of e-lessons, some learners in parts of Nkayi have never so much as heard about the initiative due to no network coverage.

Majoyi area in Nkayi has been known to be a dead zone in terms of network coverage and radio reception since independence. This has disadvantaged a number of schools and learners in Hompane, Mtshatshane and part of Zenka where zero access to the internet has pegged back learners over the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The situation in the area is so dire that teachers at Hompane have to send other villagers to and from Nkayi Centre, which is 25 Km away, with their cellphones so that their phones can deliver and receive messages on the WhatsApp platform.

Ward 22 Village Head, Rachel Ndlovu, decried the uneven playing field between learners in her area and those in cities. “The examination board in Zimbabwe tends to make a general conclusion that every corner of Zimbabwe has completed the syllabus and has had access to online lessons but this is wrong considering the remoteness of Nkayi as well as no network connections in our areas…of course, we can sacrifice livestock and buy learning gadgets such as cellphones for our children but there is no way they can access the internet for learning,” complained Ndlovu.

An appeal to the government and other stakeholders like Econet and Netone for the erection of a network mast in Majoyi area was made by Mandla Ncube, a teacher from Gwampa.

“We really need urgent help in establishing a stable network connection for the benefit of our children who are being left behind technologically. Our area is backward and schools do not have laboratories and libraries. This means they are only gaining theoretical knowledge which will disadvantage them in the future. A stable network can assist in visual simulations of real experiments and content, thereby creating a better learning space. So we are appealing to any stakeholder and our administration to look into the issue of connectivity in Nkayi.”

Another teacher who prefered anonymity opined that the low pass rates and poor performances in Nkayi are mainly due to lack of exposure and connectivity.

“Schools in Nkayi are not any where close to being competitive nationally due to a number of reasons, chief of them being lack of online learning and exposure. Typically, learners only know the teacher’s voice as the sole source of information. We all know how that disadvantages a child especially in this period of lockdowns and restrictions. However there are also a number of issues to be fixed including road networks, infrastructure and resources,” she said.

Nkayi villagers continue to harbour hopes for an improved e-learning system that hinges on the government and other stakeholders making efforts to ensure smooth internet connections throughout the country so that no learner is left behind.

In response to the pandemic’s effect on education, Zimbabwe launched an ambitious e-learning strategy that is however experiencing teething problems due to a myriad of factors such as poor network connectivity, lack of technology, financial constraints, teachers’ resistance to change, lack of electricity, among other challenges.

Source: Community Podium

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