The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has called on the government to temporarily halt online academic activities being rolled out by universities in the country.
According to the union, the deployment of technology to fill the gap brought upon students because of the suspension of physical academic activities is serving as a hindrance to some students hence must be resolved immediately.
President Nana Akufo-Addo in the wake of coronavirus pandemic announced a temporal closure of educational institutions.
In a bid to ensure the sustenance of academic activities, some institutions especially universities migrated teaching and learning online.
In a statement addressed to the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, the union stated that “many universities have not made available bundle incentives for their students and this is making accessing various virtual learning platforms for lectures simply impossible.”
“Students are required to log onto e-platforms with a high-consumption rate of bundles. In some universities, every lecturer is at liberty to choose which virtual platform to use, and this is due to the absence of a clearly laid down framework for the implementation of the directive by government. KAAF University students are representative of the dozens of complaints by students across the country.”
“There is no deliberate and comprehensive plan to ensure that students are comfortable in these pandemic days with a greater part of the incentive decision left to university authorities albeit most are either slow at implementing the directive or remain unconcerned. As we speak, there’s a growing tension between the SRC of the University of Cape Coast and the University management who is reported to have disregarded the passionate calls of the student movement.”
Also, it further highlighted the plight of needy students and loan beneficiaries who are being exempted from accessing the learning platforms due to non-payment of academic fees resulting from delayed disbursement of funds.
“Unfortunately, some universities are using these pandemic times and its resultant e-learning platforms directive to unfairly deny students who owe fees, access to e-learning platforms. A significant number of these affected students are beneficiaries of the Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF). Failure of them to meet these financial obligations in some universities have led to denials to virtual tests, assignments and possibly exams.”
“Aside from the unfortunate reduction of the loan to students from GHS 25 million in 2017 to some GHS18 million in 2019, the culture of delay in payment of loan facility by the Ministry of Finance to GETFund for onward payment to the SLTF remains a national crisis of our education system since the Fourth Republic,” NUGS added in its statement.
The association made some recommendations that the “government through the Ministries of Communication and Education should clearly streamline and supervise the e-learning platform directive issued to all universities
as well as ensure students are given some financial and waiver cushions like Free online data, bursaries among others, to continue learning even in these trying times.”
Also, “the Union strongly holds that no institution should conduct compulsory examinations or assessments on e-learning platforms, as conducting such exams and assessments will disadvantage the many students who by no fault of theirs, are unable to participate in the e-learning process. Rather, institutions can resort to the use of take-home assignments for assessment.”
The association also called on the sector minister to direct every university in the country to put a hold on stringent financial requirements demanded of students before accessing various e-platforms.
“Universities should be directed to put on a temporary hold on all financial regimens demanded of students especially those on the SLTF loan scheme until they get their allocation for the second semester,” the statement added.
On the welfare of students and needy students, the union appealed to “the government to consider including incentives for students as it plans to outdoor roadmap to allocate resources made to the COVID-19 National Trust Fund which has received some support over the past week.”