Murwira dragged to court over e-learning

Tendai Kamhungira

THE Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has dragged Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira to the High Court, challenging tertiary institutions’ decision to introduce e-learning during the Covid-19 national lockdown.

Through their lawyer Zivanai Makwanya, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zinasu said it was unfair for tertiary institutions to introduce e-learning at a time when a number of students were unable to access the gadgets and internet needed for online learning.
In a court affidavit, Zinasu president Allan Moyo said the decision to introduce e-learning infringed on the “rights of tens of thousands of students to proper education” as they were unable to access the Internet.
“This is because many students come from rural areas where there is poor or no cellular coverage or network to enable them to access e-learning.
“Prior to the sudden closure of universities as a result of Covid-19, not all students were registered to access the first respondent’s e-learning campus platform.
“Only those students who had fully paid their tuition and other fees could have access. This did not, however, preclude students who were yet to pay their fees in full from attending lectures. But such students have been excluded from the current e-learning.”
Moyo said the decision to introduce e-learning during the national lockdown was insensitive.
“The first respondent ought to open its e-learning to all its students irrespective of payment of fees. Covid-19 is a public health emergency that has indiscriminately affected everyone. It is irrational to discriminate and marginalise students during this state of emergency.”
He added that students from poor and rural backgrounds would be “unfairly discriminated against on account of their place of social origin, economic or social origin, economic or social status”.
According to the application, the students were now seeking a relief for tertiary institutions to be immediately interdicted from proceeding with e-learning or in the alternative to ensure that all the students are part of the process including those who had not yet paid their fees.
They further demanded to be consulted and be heard on the efficacy of e-learning and the suspension of the arrangement pending the consultations.
“The first respondent is ordered to immediately consult with representatives of the students on the efficacy of e-learning on students during the lockdown.
“Pending implementation of the above stated orders, the status quo as at the date the university was closed prevails and the first respondent shall remain closed and all lessons suspended in terms of the second respondent’s decision of March, 24, 2020,” Moyo said.
Murwira is yet to respond to the application.

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