From the background where the eLearning originates, its intent is very praiseworthy and most welcoming, purposely ensuring that students of the University of Liberia are placed on the pedestal of technology with the attended opportunity to engage, operate and utilize the immense benefits to accumulate therein, but it must be carefully implemented with deep considerations of several obstacles and the Coronavirus hurdles that must be properly resolved before the great forward march.
Firstly, we must call spade a spade. The launching of the eLearning at the University of Liberia (UL) is saddled with grave complications, beginning with the ill-preparedness of most, if not close to almost 90% of the students’ population is computer-illiterate and do not possess each a personal computer(laptop), which also extends to most of the professors; and to enable the computer technology to genuinely serve the user’s best interest, the users must independently be up-to-date with its operational know-hows to avoid running from place to place hustling someone who may or may not be willing to cooperate with and conduct a mini-tutorial space, which could pose serious embarrassment to the students or professors who could be confronted with such challenge at a very crucial moment.
As a means to curbing the current hullaballoos making headway on the campuses of the University, the issue of the economic dimension cannot, and must not be rendered with cold-shoulder which makes the scheme unrealistic and unreasonable; also considering the payment of delayed salaries on one hand, as many students are unable to afford the resources to obtain data regularly when most parents are without a job nor stable or reliable incomes to foot the bills of their children’s data cost, there, and then a frustrating setback soon sets in born out of morale crunch.
While it is true that some professors and students may independently have the ability-opportunity and resources to weather such storm, and may afford to stay away and conduct their activities online, those without such blessing could come to class in their full gear in keeping with the current health protocols and in thorough observance of the social; distancing, could carry out their duty due to their incapacitated status, and that goes to the students who are unable to live up to the online scheme.
However, the stickiest aspect of the eLearning is being undermined by the dreadful obstructionist dubbed COVID-19 massively intruding and constantly interrupting into organized procedures leaving people on their heels and struggling to cope with the ‘new normal’ by pursing some basic activities and disorganizing certain practices to tally with the now known, the new normal by people, and to keep and stay alive, it will be in everyone’s interest to seek the timeliness to institute development without straining the other party, if we truly want to end up with a win-win result.
To arrive at this cardinal juncture of win-win the authorities must patiently listen to what the students have to say and respond with courteous optimism to strike a fruitul balance.
In view of the ongoing eLearning saga the Student Unification Party (SUP) responded by saying we unapologetically maintain that the purported eLearning program introduced by the UL Administration is very untimely, grossly disorganized, and academically insensitive to its primary beneficiary – the students of the University of Liberia.
SUP is concerned about the cost and reliability of internet connectivity, the stability of electricity, the economic adversity as well as via majority of the University lecturers who don’t have a simple computer knowledge.
Liberia is ranked among the top five courtiers in the world with most expensive mobile data for internet according to Alliance for Affordable internet. Additionally, only 25% of the of approximately five million people in Liberia have access to electricity as per the World Bank 2018 Development Index report.
SUP is not against innovative steps and administrative creativities that will place the University of Liberia on path with other institutions around the globe but added that SUP will not accept the imposition of unrealistic and flaw filled policy that pays dead ear to the concerns of the primary beneficiaries. Dr. Nelson and his lieutenants must be informed that they are not the primary beneficiary of the eLearning rather, the economically challenged students of the University.
Henceforth, ignoring their concerns is tantamount to the rebirth of bad administrative practices that has kept the University unimproved for decades.
SUP wishes to inform the public, particularly students of the University of Liberia that the UL Administration has blatantly refused to listen to some genuine recommendations proffered by students of the University on the eLearning.
In the case of SUP, we have recommended to the University that in the midst of the current health crisis and economic hardship, it is insensitive to introduce full online classroom at this time. It is therefore prudent to pilot the entire eLearning program with a department or college rather than the entire University.
In a University where many of the instructors don’t even have the idea of how to simply boot a computer, it is ill-advised to hastily entrap such institution with a policy that will undermine its credibility and integrity.
Not many of the faculties of the University have simple computer knowledge as well as the students. Hence, both the faculties and the students of the University need to be well orientated before entirely moving the University to an eLearning program.
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