Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe is offering a free six month subscription to all schools that would have benefited from the regulator’s e-learning programme, an official has revealed.
By Tongai Mwenje
The move is meant to capacitate mostly unconnected peri urban and rural schools which are currently receiving laptops, but do not have fixed connectivity in their premises or power supply.
In a sideline interview with TechnoMag after the official opening of Chinotimba Community Information Centre in Victoria Falls on Friday, POTRAZ Director Postal and Courier Services Kennedy Dewere said,
“The six months subscription that will be paid for by POTRAZ under the Universal Service Fund will be done for schools that will have benefited in terms of getting computers under the e-learning programme. Actually internet connectivity is part of the e-learning programme that POTRAZ is rolling out, so what happens if a school benefits by way of receiving computers immediately we will arrange service providers to go and ensure connectivity then we pay six months in advance.”
The e-learning programme is aimed at equipping schools (rural and urban) with digital skills in line with sustainable development goals (SDGs) number 9.
The goal underscores the need to significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet.
Dewere said the proposition was aided by the need to generate appetite for internet connectivity.
“The reason for paying the six months in advance is to ensure that we generate some appetite among the users, they also get to understand how beneficial internet connectivity is. We also realised that most of the beneficiary schools have no sufficient resources to deploy in that regard. So this is the reason why as a matter of policy we have said as part of the e-learning programme whichever school gets some computers under the e-learning programme that should be accompanied by a six month subscription, which is paid in advance direct to the service provider, after the six months the school can then start paying themselves,” Dewere said.
Some of the schools to benefit from this initiative include the three schools (Chidobe Primary school,Ndlovu Secondary school and Neshaya secondary school) that received computers at Chinotimba Community Information Centre in Victoria falls.
To date, the programme has witnessed the disbursement of more than 4000 computers to at least 400 schools countrywide.
Meanwhile, the telecommunications regulator is rolling out another initiative dubbed 1300 schools connectivity programme where 1300 schools have been earmarked to benefit from internet connectivity.
The programme, spearheaded by the government owned internet service provider, ZARNET, has so far benefited 800 schools across the country.