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Who are we kidding, Zimbabwe isn’t ready for smartphones in schools

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Zimbabwean pupils are allowed to use smartphones in schools to enable them to do research. That’s the proclamation from Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr. Lazarus Dokora who mentioned this recently while addressing the Senate.

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Frankly, l couldn’t agree with him more on that one. Smartphones can allow students to connect to various knowledge sources on the web so these devices can and should be used for research. There’s also the stubborn statistic that the majority of internet connections in Zimbabwe are from mobile devices so the internet for most Zimbabweans is through the phone.

Before we go on this pro-smartphone campaign, there are various other factors to consider. 

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While its commendable that Zimbabwe has decided to move forward to allow smartphone use in primary and secondary schools, there is considerable research that shows that banning smartphones in schools improves the tests scores of low achieving students. Banning smartphones can improve a schools pass rate by more than 6.4 %.

Although we have a high literacy rate, the quality of the our education has been declining. The overall pass rate of the students taking local exams has decreased significantly.

It would be ill advised to allow the students to use smartphones in schools. There are already reforms to address the arcane curriculum in schools but introducing tech and curriculum reforms simultaneously might make us fail to realize benefits from these reforms.

Maybe the Ministry of Education should be addressing the education inequality in schools. There are various schools were the students to computer ratio is more than 30 : 1. Some schools in the rural areas don’t have internet access. Allowing the use of smartphones in schools will only increase the technology inequality in our schools. 

What’s the alternative?

Instead of introducing smartphones in schools nationwide, the government should consider doing a pilot project in several schools. This can be done at various schools – schools with different pass rates, schools offering WiFi to students. They can then look at what kind of ‘research’ the students are using the internet for, and the overall effect of use of smartphones in schools.

Our local schools are clearly not ready for cellphone use. Without an aggressive drive to inculcate e-learning first, l would imagine a lot of students would use the smartphones to keep up with their social media. Legalizing the use of smartphones in schools is just giving students a free pass to go on WhatsApp while at school.


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17 thoughts on “Who are we kidding, Zimbabwe isn’t ready for smartphones in schools

  1. Smartphones have no place in any primary or secondary regardless of what might be put as genuine reasoning. They are distractive to the purpose of why kids are at school.

    Are we genuinely giving our children to decide what to use those phones when they get them to school?

    Given the option to use it for education or games, chatting, showing etc, what do you think the kids will choose? I bet 99.9% percent of the time those phones will be used for something else which is not education.

    What l see here is every minister has formed a protectorate within respective ministries where they want to show everyone who is in charge.

    Some decisions being made have nothing to do with whats on the table but just to show they can make that decision and it becomes law of the land.

    1. Agree with you 100%
      A grown person fails to concentrate in the presence of a smartphone.
      They even fail to prioritise a potentially dangerous activity LIKE DRIVING
      Grown people with children, high offices and positions struggle with that
      What more a young formative mind that is still grasping the idea of discipline
      How do they think they will fare against those countless distractions that come with it, when grown people fail to do so
      It would be a very sad day if that is allowed
      IT or Tech or Technology evangelisers tend to be rigid and utopic. Ignoring experts (teachers, psychologists & early childhood development specialists) & other tried & tested methodologies dreaming and say dandy things about how IT will solve all problems.
      Coceptually, you think it will, but it comes with a disastrous baggage

      In SA children share self-recorded porn, record themselves having sex in classes and are constantly on the phone.

      Normal social development will be destroyed at an early age.

      Thats just the simple things a layman like me knows.

  2. It is a smart move it’s high time we let our kids be exposed to this world of I.T, this allows students to explore the Internet world and not just use it for whatsapp, if the xul provide wifi they can easily block access to porn social sites etc and allow educational sites…the ecoschool initiative is one example…children should be able to program,code create apps it’s a fast moving world and Zimbabwe is being left behind.

    1. What you are saying is very imagenative not real life situations.

      Im glad that both my kids who are in primary and secondary schools are banned from using any mobile phones at school. By the way, they are in the so called advanced world .

      What the schools tend to do is provide kids with all they need, if they need to do school work or research, they have computers with access to internet and education portals.

    2. u r right man , bt as long students are aloowed to carry 3 G enabled devices ,there is no where a school can block such bad content. I recommend gorvenment to seal a big deal with amazon for their kindle devices which are wifi only devices. If they do that then I can giv 5 stars. And remember there is always a way out to bypass school censoreship eg via proxies and vpn .So gorvenment must recruit and train it adminstrators to keep up with time. ask university students how do they access facebook on school wifi. Cliff is right ,our schools are not ready to face such challeng

  3. This is a disaster as not only is constant screen viewing a disaster for brain development and cognition but the biological effects of chronic microwave exposure will be lethal for some, some will be sterilized (there are already more than a dozen sperm studies that show harm) others will have dementia in their 30’s, then others will have neurological problems, blood brain barrier problems and so on. Microwave radiation from wi fi routers was classified a Class 2B carcinogen by the W.H.O. in 2011. None of these microwave emitting devices were pre market safety tested. When we measured the microwave exposure in my daughter’s school it was 50x’s higher than standing 100 feet from a cell tower. There is not shortage of science but there is also no shortage of industry money that is doing it’s best to keep the lid on information that would be a disaster to the trillions of dollars they make each year. Not to mention that industry money is the second highest source of revenue that our government has. Interesting too that the FCC that is pushing and funding this disaster is also in charge of regulating exposure. How can that be???
    Exposure levels in the US are 100 x’s higher that that in Russia and China. What do they know about harm that we are not telling??? Check http://www.wirelesswatchblog.org for more information about this. 34 Scientific Studies Related to Exposure to Microwave Radiation from Wi-Fi

    1. That’s interesting. How did you measure the microwave exposure? Are you in Zim?

      I am concerned about a cellphone tower erected too close to residents and would like to take measures to make my case for dangerous exposure to people (children in particular) to the constant bombardment of this radiation.

  4. It is severely counterproductive to allow cellphones in schools. Schools should just provide computers to the students as usual.

  5. When will our kidz be allowed to use phones? 3030? Wht are you so afraid of technology. Everything is moving with times, and it is time you guys ride on. Chinese kidz are busy making phones and here you do not want our kidz to even hold them in a classroom. Please do not abuse techzim. its not a parliament, its here to push the techmania not destory it!!

    1. They are not being banned from using mobile phones, they are being asked to use them where it is appropiate

    2. Chinese kids are not making phones, they are assembling phones. If I put YOU on an assembly line and teach you how to solder a speaker to the motherboard (MOBO) and pass it on to the next person, I cannot say you MAKE phones!

  6. “………..there is considerable research that shows that banning smartphones in schools improves the tests scores of low achieving students.”
    Interesting idea to dumb down our higher achieving students so as to make the lower achieving students less of a failure.
    The problem with the phone vs school, in fact the whole technology vs shcool debate is that most points that are raised there more of reactions. We are not sitting down to say how can we structure this technology so that it improves the quality of our children’s education. Obviously most people who have kids know that they like to take your phones and play with them. Instead of trying to yank the phone phone from your kid why not add content that teaches the alphabet, words etc. A perfect example is my niece who takes my sister’s phone so she can go on YouTube to sing along to kids songs. Obviously that will have an impact on her vocabulary development. We should be having local programmers making apps for children’s education. Let us embrace technology in the school.
    Looking back at the stack of textbooks I used to carry everyday to school, I wld gladly trade it for a samsung galaxy young(at the most $40 at Ximex) with PDFs of the same books or PDFs with the same information.

    1. Chinese kids are not making phones, they are assembling phones. If I put YOU on an assembly line and teach you how to solder a speaker to the motherboard (MOBO) and pass it on to the next person, I cannot say you MAKE phones!

  7. Controlled Technology
    Smartphones in the school? My A** sorry my foot! If we go the smartphone way we cannot control what our kids use them for, but if we provide them computers on a network at school, we can determine what they use them for and we can SUPERVISE them!
    A good network manager can actually set permissions per student such that what U6 Learner’s can access a grade one will not. That’s what I call controlled technology and each learner can be allocated a limited amount of hours per week, abuse your time in one then you are off computers for the rest ofthe week!

  8. hey y’all,
    I understand all the concerns raised. However there are some really good Mobile Device Management solutions available on the market. These have been tried and tested in various schools across the globe and have worked and schools in different countries are now encouraging BYOD in schools.
    With these MDMs the teacher can regulate the apps, website, etc that students use on their smartphones/tablets. Whatsapp, FB, etc can be disabled and then only apps that are related to their subjects can be enabled.
    Now in order for schools to implement tablets/smartphones they need to have good wifi devices installed. These days the wifi devices come with management portal whereby you can also allocate bandwidth for certain apps. For example there is one from Xirrus and you can allocate bandwidth to an educational app and not to facebook. This can also help in the implementation of mobile devices in education.
    I have had the pleasure of working with some of these solutions as I am work in the field of Digital Education. Let us do more research in this area, find out if there are any solutions other countries have used and then customize them to suit our needs.

  9. i think that its about time that the education sector of Zimbabwe fully embraces all the aspects of technological advancement that are essential in the building of a better Zimbabwean for a better future.With regards to the issue of smartphones in the education sector i believe that it is a question of personal ambition on the part of the student concerned.No matter what restrictions you can put as to the accessing of certain sites e.g porn sites some students will find a way around .Does it mean therefore that we should deprive the good student because of the actions of the naughty ones who would rather access social networks and porn sites than learn? I suppose not ! Technology should be embraced and let those who want to learn learn.The thing is that even if we say that it will be a distraction and an obstacle to learning , we have witnessed in the past students who are not interested in learning prior to the introduction of smart phones and so whats new? There will always be students who think they have better things to do than learn and as such their presence should not lend the others to deprivation

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