At least 35 percent of the schools in Zimbabwe have been connected to the Learning Passport as the Government and its partners continue to adapt learning to the new digital innovations that ensure no child is left behind in accessing education.
The Learning Passport is an online, mobile and offline platform initiated by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and UNICEF and in partnership with Microsoft in 2021.
It provides learners in both formal and non-formal education, access to learning resources and hosts radio lessons, syllabuses, teacher guides/resources, and learning modules (audio lessons, online books, videos, and interactive content).
A delegation of Unicef and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials yesterday toured Westlea Council Primary School to appreciate the effectiveness of the collaboration in innovative learning in schools.
Speaking on behalf of the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela, the Chief Director Primary, Secondary and Non-formal Education Mrs Olicah Kaira said uptake of the platform had increased since its launch but more still needed to be done.
“The learning passport has so far been taken up by schools that have internet connectivity and those on the electricity grid or are solarised. We now have 35 percent uptake of the platform but we encourage all schools in the country to scale up on its use.
“At the same time, we wish to develop an offline platform that will cater for the majority of our schools in the rural areas, which accounts for about 70 percent of all schools in the country,” she said.
Westlea Primary is one of the schools where UNICEF is piloting the offline version of the learning passport. Although the school is connected to the internet, the capacity of the connectivity bandwidth is too small for the school.
The school has been supported with an offline learning passport server loaded with content for use at the school and the teachers and some learners were trained on how to use the learning passport, both the offline and online versions.
Mrs Kaira said for schools that had no access to the platform, the ministry had come up with ways to cover the gap, including supplying hard copies of the study material for teachers and learners.
“At Westlea, the teachers and pupils have demonstrated the importance and significance of the learning passport in teaching and learning. The results in the school have improved although we would require more gadgets so that it can be accessed by the majority of the pupils,” she added.
Unicef Global Director for Education Mr Robert Jenkins expressed satisfaction at the roll out of the platform.
“We are thrilled to see the quality of education and learning at this school, specifically looking at the learning passport. This is an innovative and exciting initiative to encourage children to learn using their computers. The important thing is that it is affordable and accessible for all and we are hoping to reach all schools as quickly as possible so that all children can benefit,” he said.
He said the rolling out of the offline version of the platform would ensure that learners who were in schools that had no internet connectivity had access to the same learning material.
“We are committed to reaching all schools and all children. In the end UNICEF prioritises the most marginalised children that are challenged to access school. So we are committed to ensure that all schools benefit from this tool. That is why the offline version is so critical because for those schools that don’t have regular supply of electricity or connectivity it can be very useful for them,” said Mr Jenkins.
Since the introduction of the learning passport, Westlea Primary school has recorded an increase in the pass rate from 88,4 percent in 2021 to 89,7 percent in 2022.
Remote learning has more than ever become important as the world moves towards digital platforms.
Zimbabwe yesterday commemorated the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role education plays for peace and development.
The commemorations were celebrated under the theme “to invest in people, prioritise education,” building on the global momentum generated by the United Nations’ Transforming Education Summit that was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in 2022.
Officiating at the celebrations, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Evelyn Ndlovu said ICTs were the drivers of socio-economic development in today’s modern society.
“The 21st Century education system is an ICT supported undertaking. As Government and ministry in particular, we have gone on a strong drive of introducing computers and ICT-related infrastructure in as many schools as possible in an effort to help our pupils become part of the global village and to enable them to interact with anyone in different parts of the world at the click of the button,” she said .
In addition to the learning passport, she said the ministry had also come up with a cocktail of alternative learning strategies which embraced blended learning, the development of Catch-Up materials, radio lessons and compressed syllabi for accelerated learning.
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Publish date : 2023-01-25 10:36:20