The latest story on pupils in Zambia having to stay late into the night at their schools to be able to have their computer exams due to a lack of enough PCs to use is saddening. As much as ICTS in education is one of the goals of the Ministry of Education, it seems not to have taken much effect.
The importance of ICT training for pupils
- They can only get enough education about how to use a computer through hands-on training rather than a teacher demonstrating on one computer to the entire class.
- The trainers/teachers themselves also need to be at some sort of expert level in computer training to be able to pass on the information they know.
- Computers in schools curb the need for work to be done on paper and can be done online if access to the internet is there, saving time for both teachers and pupils when it comes to grading (using software packages made to do this) or sharing study material, which may be inadequate in paper format.
- Computers connected to the internet and available for each child in the classroom make it easier to carry out individual tasks.
- They also form a communication tool, allowing pupils communicate with others across the country, share information, and even apply for scholarships online to better schools if available for their grade.
Factors inhibiting the training of computer skills in schools:
- Computers are still expensive in Zambia and can not be afforded in bulk by many schools
- No power grid or inadequate electricity provision: there are areas that are off the power grid that can not operate computers even if available. Load-shedding during school hours may mean that there would be no access to any computers available either.
- Teachers/trainers may not be qualified to teach computer skills: they may have the computers available but know very little about how to use them, meaning students also get a fraction of the knowledge required in those skills at higher levels in their lives.
- Donations of PCs to schools may be in the form of secondhand computers, which may be outdated and run older programs. When the pupils using these computers are introduced to modern PCs, they may fail to use them because their knowledge is old-school (no pun intended!), canceling out any training they might have received before.
- No internet access or slow connectivity: internet access is still expensive in Zambia. Some ISPs may offer unlimited packages but these are not truly unlimited as they may be capped off at some limit, after which the internet speeds drop. Other ISPs just don’t have fast internet service, even though it may come cheaper than others and may look appealing to schools that can not afford high-end internet access.
How Zambia can solve the problem of inadequate computer access in schools:
- the government can engage with PC manufacturers to sell them computers in bulk at a larger discount if they are willing to buy PCs for schools themselves. They can also partner with organisations like Samsung who can install solar powered internet schools that combat both computer illiteracy and a lack of electricity in the schools.
- crowd funding can be done by schools online to get computers bought for their schools. The global community responds well to developing countries need for education. Schools can also ask from corporate firms to donate the computers they get rid of and find a refurbished to work on restoring them to a
- focus on theory lessons, if all else in acquiring actual PCs fails. This will be far less stressful for the students who have to spend nights at schools waiting for an opportunity to use a computer for their final exam. The curriculum can be changed to design an exam that’s written rather than practical to solve the problem of having to use the less-than-enough computers.
Got any more solutions? Please share them with us below in the comments section.