By Mary Taruvinga
MIDLANDS State University (MSU) students have approached the High Court challenging the government’s decision to introduce e-learning in tertiary colleges during the Covid-19 national lockdown.
The students have filed an urgent chamber application through the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), which was cited as the applicant while MSU and Higher Education minister Amon Murwira were cited as respondents.
Through their lawyer, Zivanai Makwanya from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the students argue it was unfair to introduce e-learning considering the majority of learners were from poor backgrounds to such an extent that the access of gadgets including internet is a nightmare for them.
“The rights of tens of thousands of students to proper education is under threat in that such students are presently unable to access e-learning,” the students said in court papers.
“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.”
The students were also unable to afford the increased costs of date to enable them to access e-learning material while many of them do not even have laptops or even smart-phones with the capacity to send and receive data in remote areas.
“In a nutshell, the above stated factors have limited a majority of students enrolled at Midlands State University from learning using the recently introduced virtual e-learning platform.
“This is grossly unfair to the affected students and clearly the students’ right to education has been violated and continues to be violated as long as this is not stopped.
“Students from poor and rural backgrounds should not be unfairly discriminated on account of their place of both social origin, economic or social origin, economic or social status within the contemplation of section 56 of the Constitution,” the court papers said.
The students are seeking a relief that their university is immediately interdicted from proceeding with e-learning.
They also want the university to consult them first on the efficacy of e-learning while lessons conducted from March 24 2020, be suspended with immediate effect pending consultation with students’ representatives.
The case is yet to be heard.