Editor's Comment

Desktop computers for schools welcome

IT IS universally agreed that education is a fundamental right, and that no child should be denied this right.
But having access to education alone is not enough; we should ensure our children have access to quality education.
And in this digital and information age we are living in, quality education means that our children – the dotcom generation – are equipped with the necessary computer skills from an early age.
Therefore, the news that Government has set aside over K100 million in this year’s budget to procure 12,000 desktop computers to be installed in schools across the country brings great relief, especially in view of the fiasco that our pupils were subjected to during last year’s Grade Nine examinations.
Ministry of General Education spokesperson Hillary Chipango said the procurement of computers is meant to enhance the management of computer studies examinations to avert what transpired last year, where a number of schools had no computers.
Of course, information communication technology being new in our school curriculum, hitches were expected, but perhaps not at the scale we witnessed, where some pupils sat for the exams past midnight or the following day, while in many cases the exams were abandoned altogether.
We have no doubt Government had a good intention when introducing computer lessons in our school curriculum, but even the best intention, if not backed with good plans will end in failure.
Therefore, we can only urge the ministry to ensure that companies contracted to supply and install these computers do so within the specified time before the pupils start sitting for their examinations – although we wish this process had happened much earlier so that pupils could have prior practical lessons in computers before entering an exam room.
We say so because some rural schools do not have a single computer and, in most cases, pupils in these schools have never really had a feel of a computer.
And we are not oblivious to the fact that some schools, especially those in rural areas, are still not electrified.
This will undoubtedly pose a huge challenge for these schools and we hope such schools will be assisted in this regard.
In this digital age, access to a computer and acquiring of computer skills should not be only for a privileged few, but must be a privilege for all. We must endeavour to make the computer a common tool in our schools and our homes.
Our children must have practical lessons in computers as this – in an information age – is a great equaliser.
With access to internet, for instance, even our most disadvantaged children in rural areas can have access to information that would change their view of the world.
After all, the computer, through the internet, has become a common meeting place for all of us citizens of this global village, therefore denying our children skills in computers is denying them the right to belong to this global village.
The digital age is in full swing and we can only resist this tide to the detriment of our children and our future.
Let us bridge the digital gap and not let the dotcom generation down this time around.

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