Zimbabwe National Sudents Union (ZINASU) has filed an urgent chamber application contesting the introduction of eLearning.
The urgent application cites MSU students and Prof Amon Murwira as respondents. In MSUs case, ZINASU says the university made the decision to adopt eLearning without consulting “relevant stakeholders”. By doing so, many students will see their right to education violated.
ZINASUs lawyers cited the following issues as hindering students access to education if eLearning in the current Zim context:
- Many students are in rural areas with poor or no coverage at all;
- Many students cannot afford the increased cost of mobile and fixed data to enable them to access eLearning content;
- Many students reside in areas where there is no electricity supply at all so they can’t charge mobile phones and laptops
This is grossly unfair to the affected students and clearly the students right to education has been violated and continues to be violated as long as this is not stopped
Whilst ZINASUs argument makes a lot of valid arguments especially in the context of Zimbabwe, the discussion around eLearning is pretty nuanced.
There are students who have access to these tools and some of those might want to continue learning during the pandemic which is probably why the university has decided to continue conducting lessons remotely. Now this is not to say the students who have access are necessarily right, but just to highlight that this will be a very difficult problem to solve.
Given the cost of data and tools necessary for students to participate in eLearning, when can the government can even provide these tools? I think the answer to that is firmly not anytime soon.
This is why some are pushing for eLearning to be adopted sooner rather than later. If COVID-19 vaccines/cures are not found anytime soon when will education as we know it resume?
Ultimately, I think both arguments for and against adoption of elearning are valid and this debate will continue to rage on as there is no easy answer to this question, right now.
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