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Internet can promote 'evil ideas': Chamisa


Launch ... Minister Chamisa (foreground) and President Mugabe arrive at Chogugudza Primary

28/03/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Trial run ... Chamisa and Mugabe try the new computers
 
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INFORMATION Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa lauded the virtues of the internet on Wednesday but cautioned Zimbabweans not to stray too far from their “default setting of societal traditions”.

In the wrong hands, Chamisa said, the internet can become a “secret chamber of manipulation, pettiness, vulgarity and idiocy”.

“The internet constitutes new tools of learning, new frameworks and new paradigms that will change our workstyles and lifestyles. But it has positives and negatives,” the minister said, speaking at the launch of the national e-Learning Programme that will usher the country’s primary and secondary schools into the internet age.

Speaking at Chogugudza Primary School to an audience of thousands of pupils, teachers and school heads from Domboshava district, Chamisa outlined a vision to transform Zimbabwe into a “digital country, a knowledge economy and information society with ubiquitous connectivity by 2015.”

President Robert Mugabe, who once described Chamisa as a “supersonic minister”, attended the launch along with Education Minister David Coltart.

Chamisa said: “The internet is a tool and a weapon at the same time. It gives our children equal platform with the little girl in Sweden, a young boy in China and a student in India.

“But there are negatives; dark thoughts and evil ideas lurking on the internet like pornography and homosexuality.”

The minister said parents and teachers could not “fight these vices with the old techniques”, warning: “You can't legislate morality.”

He said: “Access to information and education in this new revolution comes with hazards which we, as parents, teachers and policy makers must get a handle on.

“Many of our young people have lost their moral compass; they have become smarter at devious means.

“If we are not careful, we will groom a generation of educated and thieving schemers, weakening our family structures, our communities and shaking the foundations and pillars of our country. We must have a moral agenda, a moral mandate as we roll onto the slip road to join the technology highway.”

When in doubt, Chamisa said, Zimbabweans could always rely on their “default setting of societal traditions, values and culture”.

Prior to handing over 84 computers to the school which enrolls 1,700 pupils, Chamisa added: “I have the good news. When Moses came down from the mountain, he brought two tablets. Today, I have a tablet, not directly from God but one that God sent to transform our lives. This tablet contains tonnes and tonnes of information.”



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The government has identified 100 primary and secondary schools which will immediately receive free computers and related technology to help the learning process, but President Mugabe warned that the project was still being hampered by lack of reliable power supply.

“We need the cooperation of alternative energy companies to make sure that the abundant solar energy that Zimbabwe has is fully utilised,” Mugabe said.

“We want to build an educated nation and build a legacy throughout the world. Every Zimbabwean child should be computer literate.”

But Mugabe said the programme to get computers to every school was being hampered by budgetary constraints, with no allocation for the e-Learning Programme in the current budget.

“Everything is coming from donations. We have distributed computers to many schools but these should not be like type writers. The computers should be on the internet through the satellites installed above so that we access more information about various subjects across the world.”

Mugabe launched a Presidential Schools Computerisation Programme 10 years ago, which has seen him crisscrossing the country handing out computers, although internet access remains limited.

The computers were mainly donations from private companies, and last week he was handed 100 computers by a Chinese company, Huawei Technologies.

Soon after the e-Learning launch on Wednesday, Mugabe donated 210 computers to 21 schools in Mashonaland East province.

Chamisa has championed a US$6,5 million switch-over from satellite internet to the more reliable and cheaper cable internet access. Zimbabwe has completed a “handshake” with the underwater sea cable in South Africa and Mozambique, and the government is challenging internet service providers to complete the local connectivity.

“Tele-density internet access and mobile penetration rates have phenomenally improved over the past three years since the formation of the inclusive government. We now need vision, policy clarity, and strategies that enhance the provision of information communication technology,” he said.


 
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