Zero Rated Data for UZ Students

This post was written as part of an announcement and for the benefit of this site’s visitors, most of whom are university students in Zimbabwe. As a result, it is neither an official position of the U.Z. nor an endorsement of its programmes. This site, as stated on its About Page, is simply a reflection of its author in his private capacity.

This is in reference to the recently introduced zero-rating access for the University of Zimbabwe students to access their lectures and other learning material online.

In the wake of the Covid-19, education was one major casualty along with the economy. So it is indeed a welcome move that had been by the University – which is the biggest in the country – to have all students register their numbers so that they will be able to access their material.

For this notice and a call for every UZ student to submit their mobile number, you can check out here.

If you know anyone who can benefit, do them a favour by informing them.

We hope this is the beginning of a digital revolution that will see not only lectures like these ones delivered online, but setting the pace for which the rest of the education sector may yield to.

In terms of accessibility, what remains to be seen is of course the material itself. In other words,

  • That the text is readable by screen-readers.1
  • That the web pages are W3C-compliant when it comes to accessibility standards;
  • That PDF files had been saved in OCR text not s scanned images;
  • That any videos, images or other graphical content is appropriately captioned.

At the moment, the fact that the university is trying to level the playing field for everyone – whether he or she is from a privileged background or not – is commendable. As we often say, the Information Age to a greater extent helped level the playing field for sighted and non-sighted peers.

Like any programme, there will be some gotchas, especially during these nascent stages. For both lecturers and students, it is a learning experience, so learning may not be as smooth as it does in the face-to-face interaction. But it is a beginning.

As it comes on the heels of the recent move by the library to provide access to its resources, it means that e-learning is part of the future.

Finally, credit has to go to the country’s major mobile network operators (MNOs) who made this programme a success. Any communication in real-time is dependent on the availability of network. So this gesture to aid these future leaders should be commended for what it is: the guarantee that we had been seeking to have online lessons be practical.

If you are to benefit from this initiative, I wish you all the best in your studies.

In the meantime, consider going through these tips on online learning.

  1. In most cases, web pages are readable unless they use some animations that interfere with the screen-reader. The website of the university is accessible. ↩︎