Rural learners to benefit from low cost data

By Tapiwa Machemedze

School children in Mazowe district are set to benefit from an information communication technology (ICT) facility rolled out by local companies in partnership with related government departments.

The Libtech initiative, a pilot project launched at Kundai High School in Concession, Mazowe this Thursday, is meant to provide low cost data to learners and upgrade telecommunications infrastructure in and around schools to support e-learning.

Plans are on course to extend the full programme to about 8 000 rural schools.

Mr Jeremiah Munembe, Netone Group Chief Operating Officer said, “The product that we have partnered with Libtech is in terms of giving data bundles to learners and this is in line with NDS1, where we want to make sure we provide education and even smart agriculture solutions. So, we are providing connectivity as a partner for this e-education project and we are also providing affordable data for the students and this will also help them even off premises. During COVID-19 or any and other pandemic times they can access their e-learning platforms.

“In actual fact, we want to roll out countrywide if all goes well, but we will replicate what we have done here for every school. The partnership that we have here, you have seen the capacitation partners that we have – NetOne, National Tested Seeds, Ministry of ICT and Ministry of Education, so those are the three partners that we will move along with.”

The initiative has come at an opportune time for the local community and learners faced with high e-learning costs while also bridging the rural urban digital divide.

“We are happy with this initiative and also it goes in line with the NDS1 which the President has always been talking about and which the government is advocating for,” noted Advocate Norbert Mazungunye.

Tadiwa Rumuko, a learner said, “It is going to really help a lot because we are going to do lessons online and this and that. It is actually very good. We have even been given data bundles and it going to be easy.”

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted contact schooling, prompting the need for e-learning.

Rural learners were however exposed to challenges posed by high costs of ICT equipment and services with government and private players moving to plug the gap.