Year in year out schools are spending or rather wasting precious dollars out sourcing products and services that are listed in the curriculum like building web sites, designing classroom charts, report books, ID cards, fliers, magazines, posters, banners and adverts.
Actually schools must be banned from out sourcing digital services in the spirit of promoting e-learning and commercialisation of schools. The million dollar question is why should schools out source products and services that are listed in the curriculum when it has the expertise? If the teachers are good enough to teach students e-skills like website designing then why do schools waste thousands of dollars paying external organisations money for website development?
Why should a school out source a sliding gate when it offers welding as one of its subject. The same can be said about out-sourcing school uniforms at a school that does fashion and fabrics as a subject. Perhaps what the schools need is capacity building and up skilling of teachers or employ full-time specialists to do the job as income generating projects of schools.
Schools must utilise the digital resources they have, monetise their brands, take advantage of their good name, numbers and influence in the community. Imagine getting science and maths video tutorials in supermarkets! That is a whole niche product students are desperate for which parents are ready to buy as well. Success of schools must not be measured in marks and grades but in the impact they make in their local communities and beyond.
In the long term school commercial departments should provide opportunities for high school students to do their CALA projects while tertiary students can also do their internship and apprenticeship. Schools authorities must shift mind set and must be innovative and start to view their own students and parents as potential clients. Schools have vast e-business opportunities.
Imagine where Moleli or Sandringham High schools would be if these schools had established their own music and video production studios? E-projects should anchor schools’ commercialisation.How many young people would have flocked to these studios? Your guess is as good as mine. But the undeniable truth is those schools lost a golden opportunity to launch viable business projects in light of the news that the cabinet recently approved schools to be commercial entities.
The strategic progressive shift in the education policy was further buttressed by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Mathema during the launch of the Vision of Primary and Secondary Education (Vopse) at Loreto High in Silobela recently. “An education that makes money for the school, the community and the country is what we need. We need to recognise the roles schools are playing in contributing to the economy of the country,” said Minister Mavhima.
But the key questions are what type of long term projects will the schools embark on, the resources needed, their impact on students, local communities and national economic grid and perhaps more importantly what are the chances of success in view of the global trends. Traditionally most schools have been known to be producers of livestock production, vegetable and cash crop. Sadly majority of schools do not have the land, resources and expertise to go into farming. More so land is a finite resource.
The alternative is to venture into the digital sphere where the space is infinite. Your imagination and innovation are the only limits. Most tech giants racking millions per day were built from a single laptop. E-projects are the way to go. Technology driven business ventures at schools are most likely to be more successful as they serve the purpose of digitalising the teaching and learning system of the school as well as fundraising at the same time uplifting the community.
Global tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple Inc, Twitter, Alibaba, You Tube, Zoom, etc are having revenue windfall inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and the momentum will continue in the next decades. E-projects do not need a lot of capital. A laptop, printer and a photocopier are good enough to kick start a successful project. Photocopying, printing, editing, graphic designing, website development, are some of the services that a school can start with. If the school adds a camera, then it will be good enough to venture into photography and filming. If the school has a fully-fledged computer laboratory then that’s a goose that lays golden eggs.
The school can offer short courses to its own students and members of the community like basic computer literacy, Microsoft packages, graphic designing, web designing, software development, programming, video editing, proficiency in online platforms like Zoom, and Google classroom. Schools will never go wrong if they introduce e-projects that cater for the interests of youth who are their target group.
Digital t-shirt printing, cell phone repairs, music and video studios are some projects that schools can engage in. Imagine how many students and parents will flock to an ICT shops owned by lets say Churchill Boys High or Harare Girls High schools that sells, services and maintains gadgets and accessories.