The brouhaha of the Online Exams compelled me to send the right message to all in my previous piece. It’s been three weeks since the lockdown ended. Well, partial lockdown because it didn’t affect the whole country and exemptions were exploited to the full; so it felt like a prison with it gates left wide open.
Once again, I’m here not in any way trying to downplay the genius idea of moving learning online due to the global pandemic. The motive of this article however, is to bring to the limelight the challenges students are facing, which probably school Heads, Rectors and Vice Chancellors are not aware or better still did not take into account.
Did you know that a quiz was conducted for Information Technology students of University of Education, Winneba, Kumasi campus on the Learning Management System (LMS) and almost all the students scored zero? What about the majority of English students who were not able to take part in a particular quiz? This is very sickening right?
Across various campuses, many students since the inception of the online learning as a result of Covid-19 have complained bitterly about their inability to have a smooth study.
Initially, I blamed the victims for their negligence and inability to pay attention to details and follow simple instructions. I think I may have been too hard on them considering the technology divide and the fact that not everyone is technologically savvy.
People move from their hometowns to the cities for a well and excellent education since that is where better schools are situated.
It is always because, these students can’t trek from their various homes to catch up with their daily lectures, majority have to relocate, stay on campus, study, write exams and go back home after vacation.
However, due to the global pandemic that resulted in closure of schools, all these people have to go back to where they came from. A traumatic situation but students have to endure.
Apart from the unavailability of electricity to study, charge phones and laptops in these villages; network challenge is a big blow for students coming from countryside have to battle with. This is to say that there is no single network infrastructure in these villages.
It will also interest you to know that, how these people communicate via their phones amidst network challenges. Mostly, they have to either wait for midnight to get a stable network or they climb a wall, gather under a huge tree which they deem can provide them network access.
In simple terms, network for call is just terrible in some of these communities and not to talk of a stable one to join zoom class or watch tutorials on YouTube as a student.
What is boggling however is that, now that there is online studies and quizzes organized by various schools; where majority of students are expected to join the platform, it means that these ‘villagers’ have to develop their own ways of getting good network.
Sometimes in the process of a quiz and lectures, students both in the cities and villages encounter a lot of network hitches. Meanwhile, time allocated for these services which is not even enough commences right away when the start button is pressed.
Surprisingly, fixed time is always set neglecting the fact that the network misbehaves along the way. Thus, whether it is quiz or lectures there is no time extension by authorities.
The various learning site designated as well can’t be reached most times when students visit the page for a lecture or a quiz. That is to say that aside the network challenges, the system designated for the online studies also truncate when students visit the site. The sad thing is that, this even happens when there is a quiz that the student has started answering. Funnily, the clock does not see this and it continuously tick tock progressively. Don’t you think, it’s detrimental effects on students’ academic life?
My worry however, is that it appears this is happening at the blindside of the management of various schools although they know the nature of the Ghanaian society.
Aside the network and site instability that bedeviled students, the challenges of living in compound houses or living with animals in the village can never be disregarded. Undoubtedly, it is based on difficulties to learn at home that many prefer relocating or staying on campus to study. It is challenging how students who live in compound houses struggle to have peace of mind to concentrate on their books. The noise from the neighbors, the fouls, the goats in addition to the house chores alone does not make it conducive to study at home.
There are several other concerns that not all university students use smart phones and even if they are; is it having access to network connectivity? It will be recalled how a course mate in the university has to continuously battle with his phone which freezes anytime data is switched on.
Though it is advisable for every student to get a laptop for themselves, not all of them have or can afford it.
Other challenges such as quick draining of battery of smart phones can also not be downplayed. I am afraid my battery will run down in the process of a quiz.
It will be advisable that these concerns are factored into decision making process. Schools must contact students and find out whether their proposed decision to conduct online studies favors everyone.
Let’s leave no one behind. The Emergence of Covid-19 is not any student’s fault and no student must bear the brunt of this pandemic. Cases are rising but still Ghana will rise. The students of this country are the future leaders.
Bright Philip Donkor