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      The Digital Divide in the Context of E-Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Zimbabwean Perspective

      In review
        1 ,
      UNISA Press
      COVID-19, online learning, equity, access


            In this study, I examine the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on students from different family backgrounds studying in higher education institutions in Zimbabwe. When Zimbabwe implemented lockdown measures in line with the health regulations by the World Health Organization, the government directed all institutions of learning to migrate from face-to-face teaching and learning to online delivery of lessons. However, this directive was not supported by providing the prerequisite funding for equipment and related needs. Consequently, the government’s directive caused serious concerns related to access, equity and inclusion in education. Data for this study were collected through online focus group discussions and a semi-structured survey. For the analysis of the data, I adopted the framework proposed by Khan who suggests eight dimensions and sub-dimensions in his e-learning framework. I examined the level of preparedness among Zimbabwe’s higher education institutions for online learning and the extent to which they were ready to provide the best and most meaningful flexible learning environments for students regardless of perceived and real differences in the backgrounds of the students. The analysis of the data suggests that the pandemic confirmed the divide between rich and poor students in Zimbabwe because most students who were expected to participate in online teaching and learning activities were unable to do so consistently. Further efforts are therefore needed at the institutional, student and academic staff level to minimise barriers to online learning and to ensure a genuinely inclusive e-learning environment.


            Author and article information

            UNISA Press
            12 July 2022
            [1 ] Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
            Author notes

            This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com .

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
            Education,Literary studies,Linguistics & Semiotics,Arts
            COVID-19,online learning,equity,access


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