The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
More than 3,000 rural schools are benefiting from free internet connection as part of an ongoing program to accelerate the implementation of the national e-learning strategy.
At least 400 schools in each of the eight rural provinces are expected to be connected to the internet through the program funded by the Universal Service Fund (USF).
USF is a pool of funds contributed by mobile network operators, Internet service providers and fixed line operators licensed by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
While the program initially targeted schools with electricity, Potraz engaged the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to facilitate the connection of all schools to the national grid.
The Permanent Secretary for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services, Dr. Beaullah Chirume, said all rural schools will benefit from the initiative.
“For the provision of internet connectivity, eligible schools were selected based on the availability of some form of power source – primarily commercial power or solar power,” he said. she declared.
“This criterion was communicated to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), who in turn communicated it to potential beneficiary schools.
“The final list of beneficiary schools was compiled from a list solicited from the MoPSE, which contained a total of 3,200 schools drawn from all eight rural provinces of the country.
“Each of the eight rural provinces had 400 schools submitted by the MoPSE.”
The government, she said, will provide solar power to some schools to pave the way for them to connect to the internet.
She said USF’s mandate is to ensure universal access to the internet.
“The authority intends to continue to fund the provision of internet connectivity to all schools under the e-learning program for as long as the need remains and funds are available,” it said. she added.
“In fact, the goal is to ensure that all schools in the country have the last mile of Internet connectivity. However, funding for Internet access (payment of monthly bandwidth for schools) will not continue. subject to the availability of financial resources to fund the program.