By Partinella Ngozo
Children in most rural areas of Zimbabwe are lagging behind in terms of technology with girls affected the most because they do not have the relevant gadgets that allow them to access internet connectivity amid spiraling costs of data .
Speaking during the International Day of the Girl Child commemorations Director Of Golden Hearts Faith Manyunyire said that it was very unfortunate that most learner’s in rural areas have no access to the internet.
“As we celebrate this year’s girl child day with the theme ‘Digital generation, our Generation’ it is sad to note that especially here in Midlands most rural schools don’t even have internet connectivity or electricity. These students have been greatly affected even during covid-19 since they could not do online lessons.
“Last year, the government launched the e-learning strategy for schools to complement traditional forms of learning and mitigate disruptions to the education sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but it is sad to note that most families do not give girl children their rights to access their learning materials both in urban and rural areas since they do all household chores.
“Existing gender gaps in digital inclusion, if not properly addressed, are likely to lead to gender inequalities and for most families they would rather buy cellphones for their boys and leave the girls behind,” she said.
Manyunyire also urged the government to ensure that there is free data for schools since some parents cannot afford it.
“I also think data is very expensive and some learners cannot access online lessons since their parents are not able to purchase data for the online lessons. Therefore, government should put free Wi-Fi in schools for learners to access data and also view opportunities happening around the globe,” she said.
She also said that, their organisation is hoping to put internet hubs in various wards in Midlands so that they will not be a gender gap in the digital world.
“We are hoping to put internet hubs in most wards and especially in rural areas so that girls get the same opportunities as boys accessing internet,” she said.
Manyunyire also talked on the issue of child marriages which she said the cases were rising daily and it was disturbing that most girls due to poverty are now victims of these child marriages while some are exposed to child labor because they have to feed their families.
“It’s sad that we have more child marriages in Midlands Province because of poverty with some girls as young as 13 now working as house helpers in order for them to assist their parents while boys are going to school. This to me is so painful and I hope that when we launch these hubs for girls they would be inspired by other girls of their age and other women and continue with their schooling,” she said.
Speaking at Bvumira Primary School in Chiwundura during commemorations of the International Day of the Girl Child where she also distributed pads to the less privileged girls in ward 30, Women International For Peace and Freedom Director Edwick Madzimure urged boys to help their sister in doing house hold chores to close the gender gap.
“Boys I urge u to always help you are sisters in their daily chores let us leave behind mentality which states that household chores are only for girls. We all have a responsibility to ensure that the household is presentable and all work is done including fetching water, let us not leave everything for girls only,” she said.
She also urged young girls to aspire to be great in life and to know that what boys do, they can also do as well. He also encouraged them to always work hard in order to be successful.
“Young girls I urge you to work hard. You should know that the future belongs to girls and one day you can be a president, minister or even doctor. There is nothing impossible when you focus on your studies you can achieve anything,” she said.
Technology and the internet can be a great enabler for girls but a lack of opportunities and skills are hindering progress. There is need to equip the rural girl child with technology so that they can become the true digital generation that they ought to be.