Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Obey Sithole: Education for all not for some….. why #DataPricesMustFall

By Obey Sithole

We have been keenly following the recent developments in the education sector following the emergence of the lethal coronavirus which has led to the premature shutting down of schools thereby disrupting the academic calendar.

Obey Sithole
Obey Sithole

The temporary closure of schools was undoubtedly one of the few commendable decisions in light of curbing the spread of the virus.

The spread of the virus was going to be potentially inescapable given how difficult it was going to be to maintain social distance in a school setting amongst other factors.

It is against this background that the government, in its illegitimacy is pushing for tertiary institutions to champion online lectures.

While this appears to be noble in the interest of not prejudicing the students of their fundamental right to education, it is clearly not feasible considering the prevailing economic and locational conditions in which most students are subjected to.

The contemporary Zimbabwean situation reflects that of exorbitant prices of data against a regrettable background of horrendous poverty domination, therefore this means that expecting every student to equally access the online lectures is as impossible as licking your own elbow.

Beyond the issue of expensive data as a limitation to education access in this regard, location is another limiting factor as some students come from remote areas where there is absence of readily available mobile connectivity.

For example, we have tertiary students who hail from my rural home Marere in Hurungwe, an area where one needs to climb a mountain just to make call, thus having internet remains a pie in the sky, a person from such an area is clearly excluded from the online lectures.

With this reality in our midst, we demand an immediate review of the data prices, #DataPricesMustFall, the very same energy that the government is directing in pushing for online lectures must be equally directed to regulating the prices of data so that even the majority poor can afford.

We warn the government to abstain from their stinking culture of selective development because the consequences are dire, like in this case, in this day and age, we still have areas where there is absolutely no telecommunications infrastructure when the world has since gone digital.

We would like to remind all those occupying government offices that access to education is a fundamental right as backed by Sections 27 and 75 of the Constitution, thus at no point must it be reduced to a privilege and a preserve of the few who can afford.

Any initiative that seem to perpetuate unequal access to education is illegal and an illegality must be resisted in every sense by all means necessary.


Obey Sithole, MDC Alliance Youth Chairperson