By Prince Njagu
The recently launched EcoSchool facility launched by Econet Wireless is yet to prove its feasibility in the Zimbabwean learning environment.
The EcoSchool “library in the palm” has been embraced by many in the education fraternity especially with the state of our libraries at institutions of higher learning.
Econet Services CEO Mr Darlington Mandivenga said that the e-library was targeting to register 70 percent of local university students on its digital study platform; Ecoschool within eighteen months.
“Our library is ill-stocked; the books are not adequate and the stocks are just outdated” said one student who only referred to himself as Tinashe.
As indicated by this student; most of the tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe are stocked with outdated textbooks.
Tertiary education study material is expensive and very limited in our tertiary sector, with most material being old donated stocks from foreign Universities.
This is a big step in the education sector; especially taking into consideration the exorbitant prices for textbooks and other learning material.
“One does not have to be in a brick and mortar structure to access education”, said Mandivenga at the EcoSchool launch ceremony last week.
EcoSchool e-Library service allows on-the-go affordable 3G enabled Tablet web surfing services and an on-line student Chat facility for students across the global village.
“The e-library service is a noble gesture but does this mean that there is no need for formal education” asked one University of Zimbabwe student Gerald Chideme.
The EcoSchool e-library initiative has been applauded by the vast of college students; with the $6 fee they pay to own the 3G tab for a 24month period being welcomed by both students and Lecturers.
An ICT specialist has however questioned on the issue of how viable this service would be taking into consideration that the students would need to browse the internet to access the EcoSchool service.
The students do not browse the internet for free but a free is charged.
“This ingenuity from Econet is a noble idea but the students would need funds to browse the internet and download learning material”
“So the Econet, EcoSchool service is elitist in Nature; 90% of the tertiary going students in Zimbabwe won’t be able to access this service as they have other pressing issues to consider”, said the ICT specialist
The “library in the palm” EcoSchool service will cut costs on the student’s textbook expenses.
“With the e-Library service scholars can save up-to 90% on core e-Textbook titles and this service comes with a broad selection of eBooks to engage and educate all learners,” said Mandivenga.
The Zimbabwe education sector will soon turn into a paperless learning environment just like in China were students learning aids is virtually online.
Being the first of its kind in the Zimbabwean learning environment; EcoSchool will digitalize learning and students will have access to world renowned publications.
Having gone commercial; EcoSchool is yet to prove the feasibility of its project in the Zimbabwean market as most students in Zimbabwe come from unassuming financial backgrounds.