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A group, Concerned Tertiary Students Ghana has released a press statement urging government and educational stakeholders to suspend the virtual learning system.
To them, this new system will not serve a larger populace; citing the absence of mobile phones, poor mobile network connections in some part of the country among others, hence the virtual learning platform derailing from it intended purpose; to help students study.
Below is their full press statement
SUSPENSION OF VIRTUAL LEARNING SYSTEM FOR ACADEMIC WORK
It has been almost a month since management of various Tertiary institutions sent out information to all students to vacate their premises. This was in accordance to the instructions of the president, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah that, “all Public and Private Tertiary Institutions be closed down indefinitely”, following the outbreak of the Novel Covid-19 pandemic.
Pursuant to the directives by the President, the Ministry of Education issued some directives through National Council for Tertiary Education, to ensure that, students whiles at home are actively engaged via online to continue the academic work, thus, virtual learning.
As a coalition, we do appreciate the steps taken by the leadership in introducing this system. Introduction of such system of learning is one of the best things which has happened to us as students, but there is no denying of fact that, this system is new to most students and that it is plagued with myriad of challenges. This has brought a lot of unrest among the student folks and there is the need for our authorities to strive in clumping down these challenges if not the desired result would not be achieved.
Majority of the students are currently not in possession of android phone or smartphone. With this, they are finding it difficult to partake in this peaceful exercise. This would definitely affect them academically and also psychologically. In our setting where premium is placed on students’ writing and passing exams, it is clear that this decision only is it not going to cause a lot of bad grades being recorded, it is also going to breed a class of individuals who would have no skills acquired after going through tertiary.
Also, some of the students too are from typical remote areas in the country. These areas have its own challenges including poor accessibility to our various Telecommunication Networks, lack of electricity, to mention but a few. These and a host of several others have been the major challenges which some students are currently facing. In some places, students would have to walk some miles before accessing better network to use for this learning. Certain courses that involve high level of calculation would be difficult to grasp and for that matter studying them via online would be herculean.
In this unlikely event, where some parts of the country are experiencing a partial lockdown, the few students whose last hope would have been internet café are currently not taking part in this Virtual Learning because their movements have been restricted.
This is the first time our generation is experiencing a thing like this and we edge authorities not to underestimate the kind of psychological trauma we are going through. In addition, some of the students are
finding it difficult to feed themselves and also their family. Citing UN Secretary-General; Mr. António Guterres, “Our human family is stressed and the social fabric is being torn. People are suffering, sick and scared.” It is an undisputable fact that restrictions and its accompanying inability by the individuals to engage in certain preferred or addicted behaviours may lead to boredom, annoyance, anger and general discomfort.
This does not provide a sound environment for this exercise to take place.
Furthermore, we need to be more concerned now with our health rather than the academic because we are all living in abject fear in the midst of this pandemonium which is wrecking nations apart. We should all understand that learning requires a sound mind in a sound body and within the current circumstance; it would be virtually strenuous to concentrate because there is absolutely no peace because of the sharp increase in the COVID-19 cases in the country. Majority of us are sitting on tenterhooks because you are unable to decipher between an infected person and an uninfected person within one’s neighbourhood.
It is also worthy to note that, students did not bargain for this mode of teaching even though this pandemic is no one’s making. Authorities should suspend entirely the second semester until we are able to contain this virus and are very much convinced that, it is safe for students to reconvene back to campus to continue our academic work.
We further suggest that our mother unions on the students’ front such as USAG, NUGS etc should be consulted so as to find a lasting solution to the issues raised.
In view of this we are calling on government and other stakeholders in our education to have a relook at the decision.
In order not to create a problem in our quest to solve one, leadership should consider this section of the student populace and suspend the ongoing virtual learning, since it wouldn’t serve to a larger point, it’s intended purpose. Why has WASSCE been suspended indefinitely but authorities want Tertiary students to continue academic work online in this horrifying moment?
To draw the curtains, we would like to implore our dear students to remain resolute and stick to the precautionary measures outlined by World Health Organization (WHO). Together we shall win this battle and “this too shall pass.”