Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter
THE Office of the President and Cabinet yesterday launched the Presidential National e-learning project and handed over 160 laptops to pupils and teachers at two schools in Matabeleland South.
So far, 60 schools have benefited countrywide from the new project, which is meant to facilitate the implementation of the national modernisation agenda.
The programme was launched under the theme ‘Connect a school, connect a community project’.
Handing over the laptops to Mzimuni Secondary and Primary Schools in Gwanda, the Chief Secretary to the President Dr Misheck Sibanda, said the aim of the project was to sustain President Mugabe’s dream of making the country an information technology hub.
He said since President Mugabe launched a programme to computerise schools in 2000, nearly 1,000 rurals schools had benefitted.
“In 2 000 President Mugabe embarked on the Presidential national computerisation programme in the education sector. This marked the initial step towards transforming Zimbabwe’s education system by introducing information communication technology (ICT),” said Dr Sibanda.
“It is incumbent upon us, therefore to give an impetus to and sustain the future through practical actions, the President’s dream of making this nation an information technology hub. This ICT initiative has so far benefited nearly 1,000 rural schools countrywide.”
Dr Sibanda said the new project, which also comes after the adoption of the Results Based Management (RBM) system by the government, is best expressed in the implementation of the e-government designed to make the country competitive locally and globally.
He added that the Presidential e-learning project would go beyond the use of computers merely for word processing but for a wholesome package for the 21st century.
“The e-learning programme is intended to cover all schools in the country but due to financial limitations 30 primary and 30 secondary remote and disadvantaged schools were carefully selected by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education as beneficiaries in this initial stage.
“To symbolise the commencement of this first phase, the sister Mzimuni schools were selected for its launch,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said to make the programme a success, the Office of the President and Cabinet was working with the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education; Information Communication Technology; Postal and Courier Services as well as the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and E-Learning solutions (Pvt) Ltd.
A number of government ministries, he added, are also involved in other e-government flagship application projects whose implementation is at an advanced stage.
“These e-government flagships are lined up for launch this year. Resources permitting rolling out of the e-government will cover all line ministries during the life span of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset),” said Dr Sibanda.
The Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs, Cde Abednigo Ncube, commended the Office of the President and Cabinet for selecting his province for the launch of the programme.
“The project comes at a time when the country is working towards the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It embraces one of the eight goals which has provisions for universal education for all. This also places our province on the same wave length as other provinces,” said Cde Ncube.
He added: “The e-learning programme presents a wide range of studying skills which in turn makes learning a lot more interesting to the pupils and a lot better to the teaching staff.”
He applauded President Mugabe for his efforts towards improving ICTs in the country and attaining a high literacy rate on the African continent.
Zanu-PF Politburo members Cdes Naison Kutshwekhaya Ndlovu and Richard Ndlovu, Member of Parliament for Gwanda North Cde Madodana Sibanda, deputy chief secretary to President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndlukula and senior government officials, traditional leaders and pupils from across the Matabeleland South Province attended the launch.