Just like university students in many parts of the world during the time of Covid-19 shutdowns, the education of CITW scholarship students in Zimbabwe has been disrupted by the closure of their universities. Undeterred, however, and returning to their homesteads in the remotest areas of Matabeleland, these Zimbabwean students have been able to “make a plan” to continue their studies, with assistance from the team at CITW Zambezi, who have provided airtime bundles.
With good cell phone coverage across most of the country, and state universities establishing online courses, students attending these institutions are not missing out on valuable learning time. Funding provided by donors has enabled students to purchase 70MB data bundles each week: enough to keep up with their course work and ensure that they are not disadvantaged when they return to university.
A few students were contacted to see how they are doing…
Studying Media and Society at Midlands State University, Angela is in her first year.
“The airtime I received is assisting me to attend online lectures that are conducted weekly. I am also able to download reading material and send assignments via email. It makes learning possible despite being away from school”.
Studying Agricultural Sciences and Wildlife Management at Lupane State University, Blessing is in his first year.
“I use the airtime to buy data bundles to access lectures online through WhatsApp groups or Google classes. For assignments, I am able to research and download PDFs online, and then submit them over email”.
Studying Law at Midlands State University, Nompilo is in her second year.
“I am able research my assignments, access the Google class, and download the learning materials. Through that, I am able to participate in online discussions via WhatsApp and Google classes. Thank you very much for the assistance!”
An added challenge of living in these remote rural areas is access to electricity to ensure that devices used for learning can be charged. Many rural homesteads have small solar panels to provide electricity and the means to charge mobile phones and laptops.
Furthermore, many students have received solar lights from The Bourke Family Foundation which, in addition to providing much-needed light, have USB ports that enable students to charge their mobile phones. These solar panels and lights are crucial to providing the means for students to continue learning while not at university.
Report by Sue Goatley, CITW Zambezi Programme Co-Ordinator