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Junior councilor bemoans lack of tech services in Chimanimani

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The Herald

Shepherd Chimururi Youth Interactive Correspondent

Chimanimani West District Ward 3 Junior Councilor Evelyn Kawaza who is a Form 3 learner at Chakohwa High school is bursting at seams with frustrations brought about by lack of basic services like photocopying, scanning, printing and lamination let alone internet access in her area.

So dire is the situation in her community that even processing of laminated identity cards and photocopying at her school of about 700 students, needs someone to travel 75km to Mutare, take photos and then go back to process.

The local entrepreneur who used to provide service at the school closed shop inexplicably. Another option is to travel 25km to Nyanyadzi business center where services are erratic.

“Students and teachers have a strong desire to integrate ICT into education but they are encountering many challenges lack of resources and funding.

“This situation is not just affecting the students, but the community as a whole,” said the Junior Councilor Kawaza.

She continued, “Though the school has computers that were donated way back by former president Robert Mugabe, the technological growth has been stunted as it lacks funds to pay for wi-fi bundles.

The students are taught just the basics like booting the computer, typing, converting document to PDF and theory about hardware components.

“The skill to do value addition and do graphic design for items like school IDs, report cards, banners, fliers, etc, is not there.

“The word e-learning virtually does not exist in the learners’ vocabulary as the school does not have infrastructure to facilitate the surfing can not surf the internet. Our learners have no access to well equipped modern classrooms. A classroom furnished with a projector, Wi-fi smart boards so far remains a pipe dream. In the short term lack of technological services is affecting students in their ability to do CALAS and limit access to e-resources.

“Obviously this will affect final exam results and consequently their ability to access scholarships and choose technologically inclined careers.

“In short they are excluded from the global village where learning resources like textbooks, study packs and video tutorials are available at the click of a button,” she said.

Though there is mobile connectivity in the area, the number of students with smart phones is very low, let alone those who can afford data bundles.

“The lucky ones rely on their parents’ phones but again accessibility is an issue. Junior Councilor Kawaza further attributed the low levels of technology skills among youths in the community to poor infrastructure and high cost of internet bundles.

“If we had internet and gaming cafes, obviously many of our young people would be able to carry out projects like research, design and printing.

Kawaza, who aspires to be an electrical engineer, said some parents still see computer education as expense instead of an investment.

“Predictably the issue of ICT is seen as problematic instead of a blessing for the community. This is affecting the technological aspirations of the young people.”

She appealed for help from well-wishers.

“We am appealing to well wishers, former students, the donor and the business community to assist in building a proper computer lab for the school, pay for wi-fi subscription, e-learning portals, technology equipment like printers, speakers for subjects like literature, scanners, and photocopiers.

“Technological entrepreneurs are welcome as well to set up shop in our area so that local students and community youth can develop holistic digital skills and realize the benefits of STEM and Education 5.0. Chimanimani West Ward 3 is open for technological business.”