The Herald (Harare)

20 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Govt Engages Microsoft

Government has engaged Microsoft sub-regional office in Uganda to implement a local language programme to provide access to technology in a familiar language.

This would help preserve the country's linguistic and cultural distinctions.

Speaking at the launch of eLearning Solutions mobile learning platform on Tuesday, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora said he was in Uganda and held discussions with Microsoft.

"I was in Uganda last week at an eLearning conference and I took the opportunity to have an engagement with Microsoft. I am trying to get ICTs embraced in education in my country. I have been arguing that where we begin to have young people visible in the education sector, which is at four years (ECDS), I also want visibility of the tools," he said.

"The conversation with Microsoft was merely to say I want the Microsoft Operating System to also speak the indigenous languages of this country. Languages that we can easily relate to in that exercise be it Shona, Ndebele and Tonga.

"Microsoft must speak these languages because it will help me as I mainstream ICTs so that the kids begin to interact with that environment which is very close to their home base."

Minister Dokora said running Microsoft programmes in local languages would help empower locals to create economic opportunities, build IT skills, enhance education outcomes, and sustain their local language and culture.

He said when the arrangement is formalised licences will be obtained at a cheaper cost and enable the country to operate the software legally.

"We need at this stage to broaden our thinking frameworks so that we can embrace these technologies across the curriculum itself," he said.

Minister Dokora said ICTs must not be misconstrued as a tool to replace teachers but rather as a tool to enhance the learning process.

eLearning Solutions co-founder Mr Steward Masimirembwa said currently their education solution provider is training 2 000 teachers in technology skills.

"The problem is that teachers do not have technology skills and currently we are training 2 000 teachers in technical skills" he said.

The mCourser tool connects teachers and students on an interactive platform available both on and offline, enabling them to work together using various devices.

The platform provides tools to manage classes, create interactive assignments, get comprehensive reports and use responsive content.

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