CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTING eLEARNING SOLUTIONS IN ZIMBABWEAN EDUCATION
By Eng. Taurai D. Nyarufuka, Harare
November 12, 2018
Five Challenges encountered in implementing eLearning Solutions in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe.
The implementation of eLearning solution in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe faces tremendous challenges which are characterized by lack of resources, lack of computer skills, poor internet connectivity, lack of knowledge and enlightenment among the school Admin and SDC, no clear road map from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. So one observed that The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe has limited human resource capacity to introduce ITCs and eLearning Solutions in both primary and secondary schools. Therefore the analysis below shall explore more with regards to challenges faced in the implementation of ICT and eLearning Solutions in the education system.
Lack of Resources
It has been observed that in most primary and secondary schools there is lack of resources that can enable schools to introduce eLearning Solutions that will promote the modern study in the education system. The most challenged schools are semi-peripheral and peripheral schools which are geographically located at the community based areas. One has also suggested that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should engage in Establishment of an IT unit at each college whose role was to coordinate all ICT activities in both primary and secondary schools. It has also argued that there should be a shift from an emphasis on “education for ICT” to the use of “ICT for education”. It went further pointing out that the ICT “lever” takes many forms and as such ICT’s roles in the curriculum can be viewed as learning about ICT, learning with ICT and learning through ICT. ICT infrastructure has also proved to be capital intensive. Besides buying new hardware and software, there is a need to continually upgrade them and yet ensure backward compatibility with the existing system. This has led to the co-existence of various Windows platforms, meaning that both staff and learners have to be taught how to operate in each of them effectively. Inefficient infrastructure affecting the proper implementation of eLearning Solutions, ICT maintenance and assistance to end users in conjunction with inadequate financial resources to procure the required ICT hardware and software in sufficient quantities to meet the school needs
Lack of Skills
An evaluation, carried out by Manyati (2006), itemized a number of constraints and challenges on the implementation of eLearning Solutions and the integration of ICTs into Zimbabwe’s teacher education curriculum in the education system. These constraints include the lack of skills in end users on using ICTs, void defined training plan for end users and no prioritization of ICT budget. The problem has further been worsened by the natural fear of ICTs and computers and resistance to change by some of the school computer teacher since they will not be specifically specialized in computer sciences. There is little digital education content based on the local curriculum frameworks available in Zimbabwe educational primary and secondary schools since the new curriculum has been introduced but the new computer syllabus content is not available especially among the peripheral zones. They argued that teachers in schools see ICT use as an additional subject or complementary teaching activity, because of the lack of the knowledge or skills that would allow them to integrate ICT into classroom learning, or begin to think about how ICT could be used to transform learning and teaching. Therefore the implementation of eLearning Solution is a program provided for excellent launch pad, not only for the integration of ICTs into the teacher education curriculum, but also for the effective development of ICT skills within the teacher trainees, making it possible for the further cascading of the same skills to learners once they join the schools as professional teachers.
Poor Internet Connectivity
It has also been observed that poor internet connectivity is one of the major challenges that hinders the smooth implementation of eLearning Solutions in the education system since other primary and secondary schools does not have internet devices established for them to access educational information because other school’s ICT infrastructure has also proved to be capital intensive. It has also been observed that other schools have internet connectivity under the national programme participated by Tel-One and its internet searching speeds were very poor in use. Furthermore in some schools internet can be used by the school administration and teachers while learners are not allowed to use the internet connected hence less attention is given to the implementation of eLearning Solutions which greatly benefit the learners rather than the teachers and administration board. Therefore, besides buying new hardware and software, there is a need to continually upgrade them and yet ensure backward compatibility with the existing system.
Lack of Knowledge
Lack of ICT knowledge and enlightenment among the school Administration and SDCs is one of the obstacle in implementation of eLearning solutions, since another very interesting discovery that was made on the involvement of the senior administration in integration issues. ICTs and eLearning solutions are a specialized area and though the schools administration initially pledge to work for the total success of the programme, it became evident in due course that its members did not fully appreciate the importance of the programme. Thus, sometime during the implementation stage of eLearning solutions, the programme had to hold training workshops for administrative staff so that they would become knowledgeable in the integration of ICTs in teacher education curriculum. This exercise did pay off handsomely, as the acquisition of resources, budgeting and the efforts towards staff development became a priority in the three colleges.
No clear road map
One has also observed that there is no clear road map from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zimbabwe to have a dedicated specific national policy implementation on ICTs in line with eLearning solution in education system. No integration model or framework was employed and indeed, the belief was that once adequate hardware and software resources were made available, integration would be a success. The government is responsible for putting legal documentation or road map which will create a relevant effort with regards to the implementation of eLearning solutions on the education system especially in the semi-peripheral and peripheral schools
The provision of ICT resources to the education sector in Zimbabwe has been growing in leaps and bounds since 2002 but could not consider the eLearning solutions implementation in the education system with a clear road map that would legitimately endorse smooth introduction of eLearning solutions around the nation at large. However the above mentioned challenges briefly express how it is difficult to implement the programme in the education system as per new curriculum advocates as per arrangement. Therefore for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should address the above mentioned challenges and attend them so as to put both education and technology into a juxtaposition in the mainstream development.
Eng. Taurai D. Nyarufuka