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Govt must address digital divide in education sector

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EDITOR — It made sad reading that some learners are failing to access Grade 7 results due to technological challenges.

We all know that the online way of doing things is the new norm but we
also have to remember and accept that the majority of the population
in Zimbabwe does not have access to technology and as a result they
will always lag behind.

It was sad to know that while some parents are already scrambling to
secure Form 1 places, others in rural areas have not seen their
children’s results as they are failing to access them online due to
the digital divide.

According to press reports Grade 7 results were released last week
Friday and learners have since started applying for Form 1 places.

The Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZimSec) uploaded the results
online for parents to access them since Covid-19 regulations have been
delaying the delivery of physical result slips to schools.

Parents who spoke to the Daily News highlighted three main challenges
in accessing the results — connectivity, affordability of data and
failure to understand the technicality of accessing the website.

“Where we stay there is no network, it is difficult just to get on
WhatsApp and for days I have been failing to access the results,” said
Elina Mhlanga, a parent from Ngomeyebani School in Zvishavane.

“You know we are not used to these online things. I can’t even open
the website. I have been trying, but I think I am missing it
somewhere.

“My grandchild also does not understand these things,” Nomagugu Tshuma
from  Nkayi said.

The sentiments expressed by parents in this article are real and the
government has to understand that many people are still unable to use
this technology.

This means that the children of parents who would be the last one to
access the online results will find themselves  without From 1 places
or being forced to go to schools that they did not want.

It is not just the online Grade 7 results but the Form 1 registration
seems to be a challenge as many people are not able to log in.

We are all aware of the coronavirus regulations but maybe the
education ministry district offices should assist by making sure that
the results are printed out especially for the rural schools so that
they are able to look for places on time.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond
Majongwe said the digital divide still remains a thorn in the flesh
for many rural learners.

I know that most government departments are underfunded but something
needs to be done to address the digital divide.

— Noku.

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