A youthful Liberian, Mr. Foeday Zinnah has urged the National Government and the University of Liberia to take into consideration the rights to Education for students at the University of Liberia, while at the same time recognizing and commending efforts by the government to manage the well-being of their populations and protect human rights, such as the rights to life and health.
Mr. Zinnah said while the country and its people face a state of emergency, the state and its people must react with different ways of working, learning, and communicating. “Distance learning is not new in the world. However, COVID-19 is reviving the need to explore online teaching and learning opportunities.
He observed that since the outbreak of Coronavirus and the World health Organization’s declaration of the virus as a pandemic, people worldwide are facing a significant challenge, but added, “Coronavirus has significantly affected all of our lives, but it is also challenging our ability to adapt and be resilient.”
Founded in 1962, the University of Liberia, he said further, is the state-run University with 18,753 students enrolled there in, having 39-degree granting programs with four campuses. He however pointed out that the UL runs only an e-portal for course enrollment for her students, which is welcoming as the first celebrated digital platform that students are enjoying today while there are no online learning opportunities for her students at the University.
“Today, there are more than 18,000 students out of school due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Moreover, there is no hope and possibility for the University to provide them with an alternative to keep learning during this pandemic. If COVID-19 needs to stay for 1-2 years, the 18,753 will be out of school. The students will waste their free time engaging in unlearning activities, and they will be outdated with fewer passions for their careers,” Mr. Zinnah analyzed the UL’s COVIVD-19 Pandemic Status.
He said this petition is a called for signatures to students to voice out the need for online learning, noting that students had terrible experiences during the Ebola outbreak when they stayed home for over three semesters to prevent themselves from the EVD without learning anything.
“Nonetheless, online teaching requires careful thinking about how learners and equipped Teachers for the shift and serious consideration about whether the teaching style is still effective when it comes to access to technology and digital devices. This should not be the case study to deny the students the best opportunity to keep learning. Many youths in Liberia have access to smartphones,” he said.
Mr. Zinnah indicated, “We have Orange GSM and Lonestar GSM selling internet data for as lower as 10 LD. Now we stand, digital learning management systems, communication tools, and e-learning are playing a crucial role during this pandemic.”
He therefore called for the following, including keeping the students learning more than they do in the traditional course. According to IBM students learning five times more material in online learning courses using multimedia content than in traditional face to face courses. Online courses give students full control over their own learning, students are able to work at their own speed.
He said retention rates are higher with online learning. Research Institute of America has found that eLearning has increased the retention rates of students from 25% to 60%, adding the University of Liberia has only one graduation every year. With the introduction of online classes at this time, students will meet the completion of their courses and graduate within their target year.
According to Zinnah, the University of Liberia can also make use of a digital platform to evaluate students who complete their courses and meet graduation requirements to have the opportunity to graduate without public gathering, that there will be less time investment and that there will be more frequent assessments and distraction reduction.
Besides, he pointed out that eLearning is the greener option. Online learning is certainly a more effective option for students,. Urging that the Government and the University of Liberia to take into consideration the disadvantages associated with running online learning and create the best means to prioritize the rights to education during this pandemic and always.
“This will ensure that any measure put in place by the national government and the University to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be effective while students keep learning,” continued, adding that all students are needed in this petition to voice out their concerns and rights to education because learning never stops.