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The digital abyss in Zimbabwe

The digital abyss in Zimbabwe

Jameson, Jill ORCID: 0000-0002-9545-8078 (2010) The digital abyss in Zimbabwe. In: Leigh, Patricia Randolph, (ed.) International Exploration of Technology Equity and the Digital Divide: Critical, Historical and Social Perspectives. Premier Reference Source . IGI Global Information Resources Mgt Association, Hershey, PA., USA., pp. 106-135. ISBN 9781615207930 (doi:

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Just as refugees fleeing to escape Zimbabwe have struggled to cross the crocodile-hungry waters of the Limpopo, so are Zimbabweans battling to find ways to traverse the abyss of a digital divide affecting their country. In 2008-09, Zimbabwe was rated third worst in the world for its national information communications technology (ICT) capability by the World Economic Forum, being ranked at 132/134 nations on the global ICT ‘networked readiness index’. Digital divide issues, including severe deficits in access to new technologies facing this small Sub-Saharan country, are therefore acute. In terms of global power relations involving ICT capability, Zimbabwe has little influence in any world ranking of nations. A history of oppression, economic collapse, mismanagement, poverty, disease, corruption, discrimination, public sector breakdown and population loss has rendered the country almost powerless in ICT terms. Applying a critical social theory methodology and drawing on Freirean conceptions of critical pedagogy to promote emancipation through equal access to e-learning, this chapter is written in two parts. In the first place, it analyzes grim national statistics relating to education and to the digital divide in Zimbabwe, situating these in the wider context of Africa; in the second part, the chapter applies this information in a practical fictional setting to imagine life through the eyes of an average Zimbabwean male farm worker called Themba, recounting through narrative an example of the impact on one person’s life that could result from, firstly, a complete lack of educational and ICT resources for adults in a rural farming situation and, secondly, new opportunities as a migrant to become engaged with adult and higher education, including ICT training and facilities. Access to education, to book publications, to ICT facilities, in dialogue with others during a long process of conscientization, are seen to open up democratising and liberating opportunities for Themba in South Africa. The powerful transformation that takes place Themba’s life and propels him towards many achievements as an e-learning teacher is inspired by Freire’s critical pedagogy: it provides a message of hope in an otherwise exceptionally bleak educational and technological situation, given the current difficult socio-economic and political situation that has resulted in a digital abyss in Zimbabwe.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: e-learning; digital divide; Zimbabwe; Africa; ICT; elearning; e-leadership
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Inequalities
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Education (EDU)
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Last Modified: 07 Jan 2022 00:51

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