By Mbekezeli Ncube
THE Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) is calling for the intervention of government and network service providers to help learners with free internet access due to prices of internet data which is rising on a weekly basis.
Since 30 March when the 21-day national lockdown started, several learning institutions across the country have implemented electronic learning (e-learning) as physical college attendance has been rendered impossible due to the Covid-19 induced regulations.
Teaching institutions in Zimbabwe running e-learning programmes include, Africa University in Mutare, Bindura University of Science Education, Catholic University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Great Zimbabwe University, Women’s University of Africa in Harare and the University of Zimbabwe.
Speaking in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, ZINASU secretary for education, Kudzanayi Mavhumashava said only a handful of students could afford to buy data for learning online in the country.
He said most of the students were incapacitated as they depended on their hard pressed parents and guardians for support.
“A few of us have access to WiFi and can afford data every day, reports from all students’ boards across Zimbabwe show that only 15% of the total number of students have access to WiFi and data,” he said.
“In light of the above facts, it is therefore unrealistic to implement such a system in the current status since it disenfranchises the majority of the students in the country.”
Mavhumashava, who studies at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), said the Bulawayo based university would start running its e-learning programmes from 14 April and the students are in desperate need for help from network suppliers to provide free access to electronic learning.
“We are reaching out for help to our network service providers to assist us in this time of need. If service providers offer free access to these e-learning platforms, it will benefit our peers. The future of many students is at risk of being thrown down the drain, dreams have been pushed out of reach but there is a way out if we come together to try and save the students fraternity.
“The government must know that students are unemployed, they do not work and they cannot afford to buy internet data on their own. Both registered and non-registered students must access e-learning platforms for free,” said Mavhumashava.