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1, 000 schools goes e-learning by 2013: Chamisa

E-learning facilities will be rolled out to 1,000 schools in Zimbabwe by the end of the year, the country's minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Nelson Chamisa has said.

Speaking to Techzim, the politician revealed this ambitious plan could significantly improve the educational outcomes of students.

He revealed his long-term goal will be to have e-learning courses in the country's 8,000 schools by 2015.

Techzim said it is "optimistic" about the scheme, but does not know where the money for these virtual learning environments will come from.

Mr Chamisa stated ministers will monitor the first phase of the roll-out, before handing the reigns to schools and allowing them to take care of the facilities themselves, budgeting for the expense of online learning through their regular costs.

The costs of this large-scale e-learning scheme will be "built into the schooling system" through school fees or the government, the minister continued.

However, the publication argued more certainty will be required in the funding model going forward, predicting that Zimbabwe might have to "bring out the begging bowl" and approach international finance sources if families and the state cannot find the money for the project.

The politician explained some of the costs involved in a nationwide online training scheme will include software, hardware and connectivity.

Furthermore, solar power plants will have to be set up in regions without any electricity, he remarked.

When online learning courses are widespread, children in the Zimbabwean countryside will have the same competitive advantages as those in Australia, Beijing and New York, Mr Chamisa argued.

"We are moving from the traditional schools to the modern school," he declared.

The politician has been a strong advocate of computing technology, telling the Zimbabwe ICT 2010 Achievers Awards that "ICTs are bound to play an increasingly prominent and pivotal role as a key enabler of renewed and sustainable growth" - Virtual College.