Reopening of schools: Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa updates Zimbabweans

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CABINET yesterday resolved that schools must remain closed as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education prepares for safe reopening of learning institutions.

Government postponed the reopening of schools in June following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Covid-19 cases still remain high as Zimbabwe battles with a third wave of Covid-19 infections caused by the fast-spreading delta variant.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is assessing schools’ preparedness for reopening.

Cabinet also took a position to accelerate provision of internet in schools as it implements the national e-learning strategy.

The country has connected 400 schools to the internet and an additional 180 rural learning institutions are expected to be connected by the end of the year.

Cabinet observed that while schools have been connected to the internet most of them are struggling to pay for broadband and will be allocated free data for a nine-month period.

Government has joined development partners in the roll out of the e-learning strategy to ensure that pupils regardless of their geographical location can access e-learning.

During a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said Government has taken a position that no pupil should be left behind in e-learning.

“The national e-learning programme will be complemented by the UNICEF GIGA Schools Connectivity Project. The project, which is a response to COVID-19 pandemic by UNICEF and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has the following pillars: raising funding for schools’ connectivity; mapping the connectivity status of every school; connecting the unconnected and poorly connected schools to the internet; and linking connected schools and young people to digital public goods that provide job skills and remote working opportunities, among other benefits. The overall objective of GIGA in Zimbabwe is to connect every school to the internet and afford every young person access to information. The GIGA project will be rolled out in all provinces,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

GIGA is an initiative to mobilise resources to connect schools to the internet.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also resolved that Information Communication Centres would start providing free internet services to promote e-learning and e-commerce.

“In addition to the provision of free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres, Government will meet all operational expenses, inclusive of staff remuneration. Taking into cognisance the financial hardships brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak, Cabinet wishes to advise the citizenry that all students, pupils and the general public using these facilities will enjoy free access to internet services at Community Information Centres and Community Village Information Centres for a period of nine months,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said those intending to use services at community information centres will continue to pay for the other services such as printing, scanning and photocopying that are offered at these facilities.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is expected to lead the capacitation of schools in the implementation of the national e-learning strategy.

— Chronicle


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