Entrenching ICTs for education as schools in Masvingo get computer laboratories

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The Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services together with the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) launched computer laboratories for 14 schools in Masvingo Province yesterday.

Kanongovere Secondary; Chikwerengwe Secondary; Rafamoyo High; Mushayavanhu Primary; Mutero Central Primary; Magombedze High; Chimombe Mudyanadzo High; Mutambwi High; Rumhizha High; and Mutendi High; Zimuto High; Chinyanganya Primary; Mavhiringidze Secondary; and Nerupiri Secondary schools had their computer laboratories officially opened by Dr. Jenfan Muswere, the Minister of ICT, Postal, and Courier Services.

The launch was apt in that computer laboratories are essential research platforms for ICT whose importance came to the fore when it emerged that there is no sphere of human endeavour that was spared by the COVID-19 pandemic – whether trying to carry out our day-to-day duties at work; keeping in touch with family and friends or conducting school lessons.

Addressing delegates during the official launch at Mutendi High School, Dr. Muswere said the challenges brought about by the pandemic have amplified the call for universal access to ICTs and the use of digitally based platforms.

He said the world has come to the realisation of the pivotal role that ICTs and the digital economy drive to connect all the people of the world virtually.

“It is now critical to bridge the digital divide for the 2.9 billion people who still remain offline worldwide, more so the millions not connected in our beloved nation of Zimbabwe. Indeed, the call for universal access has never been more profoundly sensed than during the trying times we found ourselves in, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“It is against this background that, as Government, we remain resolute in our quest to attain a digital economy and knowledge society, a society where all our citizens have access to ICTs, regardless of their geographical, social, or economic status. To that end, we continue to provide an enabling environment for the growth of the ICTs sector, by deploying critical ICTs infrastructure like schools’ ICTs laboratories in our rural communities and districts across Zimbabwe,” Hon Muswere said.

He added that from a policy perspective, it is the government’s wish for all citizens of Zimbabwe to have access to the internet and digital connectivity, including the rural and low-income communities. The ICT Ministry, through its partners and technical arm, is rolling out a number of initiatives that are aimed at increasing the digital footprint in rural communities.

Dr. Gift Machengete, the POTRAZ Director-General weighed in by underscoring the fact that access to ICTs and effective participation in the digital economy is critical in improving the quality of life for all the citizens of Zimbabwe.

To that end, he said digital economy projects and initiatives, dovetail very well with the ICT Ministry’s vision which is anchored on leveraging ICTs for sustainable development.

In the same realm, the roles played by ICTs in the quest to achieve the SDGs by promoting inclusivity, sustainable industrialisation, and fostering innovation are critical.

The Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network (ZARNet) Acting Head of Marketing, Mr. Tobias Moyo said efficient and affordable ICT infrastructure and services allow citizens to participate in the global digital economy and increase their overall economic well-being, digital inclusion, poverty reduction, and improved health care and education quality.

Digital technologies facilitate the attainment of the aspirations of the National Development Strategy (NDS1), as enunciated by His Excellency, the President, Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

The Digital Economy is stated as one of the fourteen national priorities underpinning this strategy for the period 2021 – 2025, in the quest to become an Upper-Middle Income society by 2030.

The ICT Ministry promised to continue to play its critical role in this transformation agenda by ensuring the deployment of the ICTs infrastructure for all citizens, let alone children.

Hon Muswere reiterated his ministry’s commitment to addressing and reducing the barriers to technology and the digital divide through policies and programs aimed at ensuring the participation of all citizens in the digitalization Agenda.

“Advanced technological and digital skills are a prerequisite for the development of an innovation culture, which is the cornerstone for success in the digital economy and e-learning thrust. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, as Government, to cultivate the e-learning culture among our children, in an effort to build relevant skills and capabilities for harnessing the digital economy for socio-economic development in Zimbabwe,” he added.