In the joint portfolio meeting on ICT, Postal and Courier Services (in a presentation by TelOne) that was held this morning, it was revealed that only 2864 of the 8731 registered primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe have access to the internet. The figures are especially startling given that we more than a year into the pandemic and as a consequence of that, e-learning has become a necessity.
For schools in rural areas, an internet connection at a school or hub brings those students closer to e-learning. It would be extremely difficult and expensive for both the parents and the state to bring devices into every home.
To no one’s suprise Harare and Bulawayo dominate with the highest percentage of schools that have some access to the internet with figures of 70% and 75% respectively.
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Connecting rural & underserved primary and secondary schools
The disproportion has however been addressed, in part, by a number of programs that were launched in the mid to late 2010s. The notable one’s being the partnerships between the Postal and Telecommunication Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and organisation like the Universal Services Fund, TelOne, eLearning Solutions and ZARNet.
ZARNet, eLearning Solutions and TelOne were tasked with providing internet connectivity to underserved and rural communities. The government allocated 6300 primary and secondary schools among the three providers.
|eLearning Solutions||2 000|
This allocation was done in 2017 and ZARNet did its work through the 1300 project with POTRAZ we reported on earlier. TelOne, on the other hand, has been solo with the state-owned ISP having connected 731 schools of the 3000 it was allocated in 2017.
In the TelOne presentation, it was also revealed that 33% (2 885) of schools nationwide have an internet connection through the state-owned ISP. However, only 13% of those schools are using their bandwidth with 80% (1 385) secondary and primary rural schools with dormant connections. Of that 80%, the majority are struggling to sustain the connections that were established.