By Ndatenda Njanike
THE ZIMBABWE National Students Union (ZINASU) has written to the Ministry of Higher Education registering its disapproval over a government directive for all tertiary students to write their examinations online due to Covid-19.
The government has informed state-run tertiary institutions to resort to online examinations in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The pandemic has seen government restrict the gathering of people in large numbers.
However, the student rights lobby group has dismissed online examinations as an elitist move meant to disenfranchise the poor who constitute the majority of students.
ZINASU said the government was supposed to consider that most students do not have gadgets to access platforms for the online exams.
Also, to be considered, the students argued, was the now regular power cuts in the country. This, they argued, would be a huge setback for students if there were electricity interruptions on the day of the examination.
“We have noted several notices and communiqués from state institutions of higher learning to the effect that this semester’s examinations will be taken online using the Google classroom platform,” a letter by ZINASU to the Higher Education Ministry secretary, Tumisang Thabela reads.
“We would like to register our deepest disapproval to this elitist move that is meant to disenfranchise the poor who happen to constitute the majority student community. A lot of students simply do not have the gadgets to enable them access to the said Google Classrooms for purposes of examinations.
“It would be a great injustice to deny them their deserved right to sit for exams they equally paid for, on account of poverty and a pandemic none of us invited. As you are obviously aware, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company has notified the entire nation of the decrease in power supply which will mean a lot of students will be affected by power cuts on examination day.”
The union has asked government to find alternative means for students to physically finish their semesters as did some final year classes early this year.
“If the exams are to be online then the government should come up with an arrangement that allows students to access gadgets like tablets, phones, laptops through a loan facility that is payable over a long period of time,” ZINASU also proposed.