Computer illiterate heads derail e-learning in schools

Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
THE information and communication technology (ICT) revolution is failing to take hold in some schools where technophobic heads bar teachers from using computers to plan for lessons.

ICTs have long been acknowledged the world over as a cornerstone for development and an essential survival tool in the modern world.

Speaking at the recent Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) annual conference in Victoria Falls, teachers complained that school heads continued to force them to scheme using long hand, when they could do so on their computers.

About 250 teachers went into break-away sessions and a group that was tasked to deal with infrastructure and learning material reported that teachers were having challenges harnessing e-learning because of resistance from computer-illiterate heads.

“There’s a challenge in schools. Teachers can’t use computers as school heads are saying there must be a circular directing them to allow use of computers,” reported the committee.

The teachers said their superiors were adamant that there should be a policy to compel use of computers in schools.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora, who was at the conference, urged teachers to undertake computer training.

“You say some school heads aren’t literate, they should get training in Information Communication Technologies because teacher capacity building must be continuous. We don’t need a circular for that,” said Minister Dokora.

National Association of Primary School Heads (NAPH) president Cynthia Khumalo acknowledged there are some headmasters and headmistresses who lack computer skills.

She however said the issue had been dealt with and not all school heads were against computer use.

“It’s true that many school heads have problems with computers and we encourage them to start learning.

“We once discussed the issue at a Zimta executive meeting as school heads wanted a circular. It’s not a blanket problem because I think there’s a particular district where teachers have problems with school heads,” she told The Chronicle in a telephone interview.

She said some claim they are about to retire and don’t need new skills.

Khumalo, who is Victoria Falls’ Chinotimba Primary School headmistress, said NAPH’s position on the matter was to make sure teachers evolved with technology.

“We’ve asked for details of those heads that are against use of computers so we can solve the issue but we understand it’s not easy to teach an old dog new tricks,” she said.

Khumalo said use of computers makes teaching easier as teachers can refer to the old soft copy of their plan of work and amend according to new demands than to start writing afresh every term.

A few years ago President Mugabe launched a countrywide computer programme where a majority of schools each received 10 computers for use by teachers and pupils.

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