President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government has made a dramatic climbdown on the reopening of tertiary institutions, saying the tentatively set June 1 date was only announced for colleges and universities to start preparations for the new blended learning programme.
The dramatic u-turn comes in the wake of concerns raised by the general citizenry over the country’s preparedness to reopen the universities in light of the Covid19 scourge.
Some tertiary institutions are currently being used as quarantine centres for the deadly Covid19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
“It is a gradual programme of opening because as you know, for example, Lupane State University is still being used as a quarantine centre. There is a day that the last quarantined person will leave. It is after that day that the university will then be able to have the presence of final year students,” Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira told the state media.
He said the varsities will engage in a blended learning programme which involves using both online and face-to-face learning. Murwira said in the case of face-to-face learning, priority will be given to final year students.
“We have measured the state of preparedness of our universities for e-learning purposes and they are prepared. They started preparing from as early as February before any announcement was made because we knew where Covid-19 was going.”
In the pursuit of easing the burden of the unaffordability of data, Murwira said Government has entered into negotiations with various telecommunication companies which include Liquid Telecom, Econet and TelOne.
He said the Government has managed to get a concession that e-learning services would be free for students while, on the other hand, data prices would be reduced.
“We talked to telecom companies and I’m happy to report that Liquid Telecom, Econet and TelOne have responded. Websites will be like toll free lines,” said Murwira.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews