At the turn of the millennium, the Government of Zimbabwe through the initiative of the Head of State and Government, His Excellency President R.G. Mugabe embarked on the Schools National Computerization Programme. This programme saw a number of disadvantaged schools countrywide being beneficiaries of this project.
Status of African Education before Independence.
Before independence education in Zimbabwe was divided according to three racial categories, namely European Education, Asian/Colored Education and African Education. Whilst European education was compulsory, African education was not. At independence the new Government adopted a policy of Universal Access to Education for all children enrolling for grade 1 to grade 7. More secondary schools were opened in rural areas and hot seating was introduced to accommodate the increasing number of students that were being enrolled. The resultant effect of this policy, according to UNESCO has been a literacy rate of 90% (Herald 14 September 2007). However it is the Government of Zimbabwe’s conviction that education in Zimbabwe must match if not surpass global standards. To achieve this, the curricula must continuously be revised and updated to incorporate relevant and recent frontiers of knowledge which promote innovation and change in order to improve the material condition of the learner and the society. It is within this purview that in 2000 His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe launched the School Computerization Programme and in 2012, the Presidential e-Learning Programme
The first phase involves providing internet connectivity and computers to schools mostly those from disadvantaged areas. During this phase all schools that will be benefitting from the programme will have a forty computer lab modeled along either N-computing or HP’s multi seater programme, which is ideal for secondary schools.
Internet access needs infrastructure both first and last mile to ensure that students access learning material online. ZARNet working with private partners through the spirit of PPPs intends to establish a national e-learning infrastructure countrywide. The infrastructure will be a blend of both VSAT and Terrestrial solution. The intention is to reduce costs of internet access by academic institutions. To date ZARNet and Partners have established a terrestrial solution model covering a distance of over sixty kilometers. Four institutions namely ZRP Boarding School, Domboshava Training Center, Parirewa High School and Chogugudza Primary School center to date have been connected and having internet access via this solution as a last mile solution.
The second phase will involve the provision of digital content. Working with relevant stakeholders including publishing houses, ZIMSEC, Ministry of Education, content providers and other relevant players, the current content which is in paper format will be converted into digital content thus enabling millions of student to access local learning material online.
The third phase involves development of human capital. ICT skills in teachers, students, administrators and support staff have to be developed to enable learning institutions to derive maximum benefits from the resources.
The forth phase will tackle e-examination management. We understand that ZIMSEC has already started this project; however it is critical to harmonize this critical institution of government with what is happening in the total education sector to avoid duplication and therefore possible resources wastage. E-examination management will involve e-registration of students, e-marking, e-results and e-feedback.