Community Based Digital Computer Literacy in Zimbabwe (CBDCL)

What is Community Based Digital Computer Literacy?

Definition: Community Based Digital Computer Literacy is a developmental approach or system which is communally oriented which promotes computer literacy through community participation, Ministry of ICT intervention and stakeholder inclusion especially in rural areas.

The term Community Based Digital Computer Literacy recognizes the participation of the local community with other local stakeholders like Business Enterprises and the surrounding business entities in eradicating computer illiteracy in educational system. It has been observed that the ministry of ICT in Zimbabwe as a nation is under looking the passive and primitive communities which cannot afford to access Digital Computer Literacy due to remoteness with regards to educational development.. Therefore, CBDCL might be possible resolution to promote computer literacy especially amongst remote schools both primary and secondary, and this might be enhanced by the establishment of digital computer literacy resource centers, public internet cafes and online study platforms facilities.

The introduction of CBDCL might be an eye opener for the less privileged individuals with regards to computer literacy in different part of the nation at large. This can be possibly achieved by the intervention of government efforts through establishing the computer literal resource centers which provides facilities that lead to easy access of educational information backed up by provision of both software and hardware operators and providers. The computer resource centers can offer different computer accessories with regards to educational information in the mainstream development system. The resource centers can offer services like software installation and eLearning packages that have relevance to the culture of study currently underway. Therefore it create better access to information through computer devices that can speed up the access of information at local disadvantaged communities.

Community Based Digital Computer Literacy needs the community participation as evidenced by Norman Long in his interface analysis where by the local people should also be involved in the decision making of the project for it to be successfully established. It is an added advantage to deal with the local community in establishing a notable project which can assist them ideally since they can guard the infrastructure that is computer resource center jealously motivated by the sense of belonging in their locality. Therefore, it might also give other stakeholder or business entrepreneurs chance to venture into internet café, computer shops where by individuals who does not have smart phones to connect on the internet will also be given opportunities to access the adhered information of their choice either educational researches or communication platforms which needs internet such as twitter, email information exchange.

The Community Based Digital Computer Literacy is an approach, ideally promoted through introduction of computer resource centers that provides computer mini-courses and can enlighten the disadvantaged individuals who resides or work within the local vicinity. It has been observed that most of the primary and secondary teachers who work in the remote or less privileged society are computer illiterate since

they are not exposed within an environment which is digitally conducive. From an analytical point of view, most of these societies might have other students who are engaging in tertiary education at colleges, polytechnics and universities just to mention but a few, who needs to boost their research skills but they cannot expose themselves due to lack of facilities and computer accessories. For instance, student teachers deployed at satellite schools that need to submit their files via internet by creating email account faces challenges of not having computer facilities at local level unless they come to town but it will be expensive since they will be on teaching practice they receive meager salaries for stationery and other academic material which they use as teaching aids.

The Community Based Digital Computer Literacy can also be successful through the inclusion of local school administration board and SDC committees in mobilizing the local individuals and school teachers to venture into Digital Computer Literacy programme so as to objectively promote computer literacy in rural areas out of town influence. The responsible Ministry of ICT can undergo a basement survey within different community which are peripheral and coordinate outreach campaigns and awareness campaigns with regards to Digital computer literacy so as to enlighten the whole community about the importance of computer literacy in education system and the mainstream development. Therefore this might possibly create a good platform for the establishment of Computer resource center which can offer computer courses to the deprived individuals. For instance the so called Born Before Computer teachers and other school leavers might have the chance to engage in mini-computer courses like introduction to computers, Typing, Flat Designing just to mention but a few.

The Community Based Digital Computer Literacy can also be driven by conducting computer Literacy workshops especially in the disadvantaged communities with computer teachers as the target participants. It has also been observed that it is quite better to first equip the school teachers with computer knowledge thereby they could be able to share and equip their pupils with relevant computer knowledge that they can use it for the future purpose. Therefore, the non-profit or profit making organizations which are in the field of Digital Computer Literacy are entitled to venture into conducting and mobilizing workshops amongst the less privileged communities with the consent and approval from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to make it legitimate as per arrangement.This can create a better working environment between the ITC participants and the ministry of Education enhancing mutual understanding in totality.

In the developmental discourses, it has been observed that development starts at grassroots level thereby developers should be able to apply the “bottom-up” (blue print) approach manipulating the principles and dictates of the Community Based Digital Computer Literacy amongst the disadvantaged societies for them to catch up the modern day situation with regards to computer literacy. By so doing the government is entitled to introduce computer resource centers and ICT based colleges at local level so as to promote computer literacy amongst the deprived ones. This might create chances for the less privileged local subjects to participate in different computer courses like computer maintenance, software development and installation and networking just too mention but a few so as to better their income at local level. In contrast, the Ministry of Agriculture and Mechanisation introduced and established the Technical Vocational Training Centers like Kaguvi in Mid-lands province, Mushagashe in Masvingo province and Domboshava in Mashonaland Central province for technical vocational courses that can equip the locals with knowledge and skills of their hand making efforts. This might also beapplied by the Ministry of ICT in considering Community Based Digital Computer Literacy approach in promoting the less privileged local subjects by introducing computer literal schools in different communities among Zimbabwe as a whole.

Community Based Digital Computer Literacy approach can be viewed as an avenue to eradicate computer illiteracy within the rural community that is gemeinshaft dichotomy as witnessed by the Neo-Marxists perspective. With the spell of community’s participation, the government is also obliged to donate energy supply solar panel system to boost computer power source especially to the non-electrified schools. For instance, in Masvingo District, Tsungai Mhere, the former MP for Masvingo Central constituent, donated the Solar Panel system and ten computers at Maweza Secondary School for the past five years and last year the school was electrified by the support of Dzikamai Mavhaire the former Senator for Masvingo and computer subject was introduced since the facilities has been provided. This shows how the government authorities can also participate in the development of ICT through community Based Digital Computer Literacy improvisation especially to the peripheral zones hence promoting computer literacy in the less privileged societies.

It has also been observed that Community Based Digital Computer Literacy can be used as a livelihood strategy within peripheral zones by other ICT oriented companies by establishing computer shops pregnant with computer accessories. There by so doing the computer shops will be dealing with computer accessories which includes projectors, interactive boards spares, CPUs, Monitors, key boards and other electronic accessories. Therefore the local schools, private colleges and other computer oriented entities can obtain computer products at local level rather than flood over in urban. Steadily, ICT oriented companies can establish computer shops at economically active growth points where the local clients can locally access to computer products to boost their computer literacy. From a different analysis, individuals from the local community or abroad may have the opportunity to establish computer shops so as to better their income by providing spare accessories around their local school and other computer oriented entities, maintaining the steady supply of revenue at local level, hence Community Based Digital Computer Literacy promote self sufficiency boosted by financial capital as witnessed by I.Scoones (2002).

From the above information, it might justifiable to label that the Community Based Digital Computer Literacy is one of the modern approaches to educational development in the mainstream development, in collaboration with the local community and the Ministry of ICT and other local stakeholders. Especially the less privileged communities which are geographically located at ancient remote areas as compared to the semi-peripheral and urbanized societies. Therefore the Ministry of ICT and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should work hand in a glove in applying the Community Based Digital Computer Literacy approach into practice by introducing Computer Resource Centers in less privileged community so as to eradicate computer illiteracy thus creating better modern educational system.

 Timothy Shava:
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