ZIMSTAT, Zimbabwe’s statistics agency and the telecoms regulator POTRAZ released a report on their survey into the use of ICT in education. Embarking on such a survey is very commendable. It’s important to know where we are on this important issue and thus have clear interventions to consider.
Who was surveyed?
7 955 institutions were surveyed across the ten provinces with Manicaland followed by Midlands and Masvingo leading in the total number of institutions. 5 569 of the institutions are primary schools, 2 341 are secondary schools and 16 are universities. They also surveyed 8 polytechnics, 12 teacher training colleges, 4 industrial training colleges and 5 special schools. That means just about all body…
Level of ‘access to a mobile’ phone doesn’t make sense
The report says out of the almost 8 000 institutions that responded, 3 494 have access to a mobile phone. That translates to just below 44%. Now that number doesn’t sound right. If the question had been about ownership of the mobile phone I could believe it but access?
Well the report defines what they mean by access:
In order for the education institution to have access to a mobile cellular telephone, it should be
generally available for use by members of staff at any time.
The definition doesn’t help much because it speaks more of ownership by the institution as opposed to access. I know a lot of school teachers and heads who use their own mobile phones for school business. However the fact that such a small fraction of schools own mobile phones is still not good.
Network is not the problem
86% of the respondents reported that they have access to a mobile network signal. This is therefore not the biggest contributor to the lack of mobile phones.
It’s not because they have fixed telephone lines
86% of the educational institutions do not have access to a fixed telephone. The bulk of these are primary and secondary schools. Only 3 teacher training colleges out of 12 were recorded as having no access to a fixed telephone. All the other types of institutions surveyed had access.
Schools are more likely to have a computer than a phone (even kambudzi)
The report defines access to a computer as such:
For education institutions to have access to a computer, the computer should generally be available for use at any time, regardless of whether it is actually used
The report says 72% of the institutions have access to a computer. The institutions that don’t have are all primary and secondary schools. All the tertiary and special schools have such access. This is a bit of a surprise that you are more likely to find a computer at a school than you are to find a cell phone even a feature phone…The survey definition of access to mobile above is quite faulty and is distorting the situation.
There were 65 009 desktops, 20 975 laptops and 5 874 tablets in all the institutions combined. 17% of these are over 6 years old and 16% are less than a year old.
50% of the computers are being used in computer laboratories and 31% are being used as instruments of teaching and learning within classrooms.
22% of the educational institutions have access to the internet. All of the 78% that don’t have are primary and secondary schools. Most of these schools claimed that the installation costs and access cost were the deterrent.
Access to electricity is important if ICT use is to be become widespread in schools. Unfortunately 44% of the institutions do not have access to electricity. 86% of those that have electricity are on the national grid. Only 319 institutions are using solar out of the close to 8 000 and 266 are using fuel generators.
Too many numbers in one article. You can download and read the report for yourself here.