The world is evolving, Ghana is suffering because of how we have lived. The Government’s effort to ensure the continuity of education in this period is commendable by asking institutions to switch to E-learning. In other parts of the world, switching from face-to-face learning to virtual learning was easy. E-learning is a great move in this period of coronavirus but is that feasible in the developing world where:

Not all students have access to the devices for E-learning. We still have students who don’t have the luxury of owning laptops or even smartphones across the nation. Some of these students are on scholarships and various loans. Some have parents in the economically marginalized and can’t afford to get these devices within this period and some even work to support themselves through school. Except through phone calls, some students wouldn’t know about the E-learning directives from their various schools because they still use “yam” phones.
It will be best if these devices can be made available to students at subsidized rates when all this is over so future generations wouldn’t face similar problems.

It is expected that a tertiary student would be familiar with IT but we still have students facing basic challenges with using the internet and these devices due to various reasons.
How would such a student solve some basic problems he is confronted with during studies? Information should be made available on how to navigate the pages and our basic school ICT education needs to be intensified nationwide.
Our schools should also develop their E-learning platforms so they wouldn’t have to depend on third-party applications. An example is All Nations University College’s chosen application (Microsoft Teams) to run E-learning but this application has negative reviews for Android OS (Which runs most smartphones students use). These platforms should be operational even after the pandemic and be made a module for teaching and learning so future generations wouldn’t have to wait for a disease outbreak to get themselves acquainted with the platform.

Mobile data is expensive. The average cost of a gigabyte of data as of October 2019 was about GHS 20.00 ($3.60) in Ghana, where public Wi-Fi is rare. Not every student would have the means to purchase mobile data frequently for E-learning. Unlike Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology where students are given data SIM cards, schools like University of Cape Coast have students depending on Wi-Fi on campus for their internet works. Thus, who bears the extra cost of E-learning when students have already paid school fees?
It is almost impossible for some of these universities to provide data SIM cards for students now considering all students being in their various homes with movement restrictions in some parts of the country. Also, internet connectivity is poor in the hinterlands and even some areas in the capital, Accra. Students who find themselves in network-deprived areas would have to move to areas with a better network in a period where movement is discouraged to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Some courses, especially those of the physical sciences and engineering need practical sessions for better understanding. Chemistry, Biology and Physics students need to use the laboratories for experiments, make genuine mistakes and learn from them. The inability of students carrying out various experiments in these areas renders the use of E-learning here ineffective. How are these students going to carry out their experiments? Hence the need for physical contact between tutor and student.

With the reasons above among others like online training being boring, each semester already requires students to grasp a lot from different courses within a limited time and that has some psychological effects on some of them.
Since the distribution of resources would never be the same no matter what; would the wicked tutors on our side of the world pardon students left behind in this sudden initiative or they would have extra work to do compared to their colleagues?
What effects does this extra work within the given time have on their mental health in an era likely to cause a rise in depression, anxiety, and paranoia?

Education cannot be put on hold for long in a continuous world. The virtual classes I believe would not last long and thus the semester’s academic work would wrap up soon. Also, students can be treated fairly with examination being concentrated largely on what was taught before the closedown of schools since effective teaching and learning were winding up before the closure.
Hence the need to encourage students to revise while at home.

This initiative is good but it should be re-considered to minimize most of the errors it comes with and thus a gradual rollout is recommended. That way the inevitable discomfort would be bearable for the students.

To colleague students, when all this is over, I hope we learn to elect competent and visionary leaders to represent our affairs and not elect leaders based on popularity and gifts sharing. 

Edmund E. Terkpernor,
March 31, 2020,
Cape Coast.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting submission. I really hope this is considered by our government.
    Good job Eddy. 💚


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