More than 100 days into the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, to avert the spread of COVID-19 all education institutions in Uganda were closed. The biggest issue at hand right now is how do we keep the 15 million learners engaged? As educationalist and teachers, what meaningful lesson have we drawn from this crisis that has confronted the entire humanity? The Government came up with different options for learners to revise through distribution printed materials and virtual learning programme conducted on Radios, TVs, and zoom classes as a way to avert the issue of having a dead year. This is a critical moment for all of us as teachers and educationalist to reexamine what we took for granted till the closure of schools on March 18th 2020.
This lockdown period should not be wasted. Education institutions, teachers and students should keep their “normal” activities alive to complete the “syllabus” through “online” and distance learning and get their diplomas and degrees in due time. The International University of East African (IUEA) has launched a tool that may serve as a large-scale remedy for the loss of classroom-based education and enable the continuity of learning programmes: online learning, distance learning. IUEA has launched mElimu.
mElimu is an OFFLINE- ONLINE learning platform. This online education requires commitment and discipline from teacher and learners. Through this innovation, it is believed that the academic performance will be as good as traditional format. The mElimu OFFLINE- ONLINE learning platform will enable the learners to read the same texts, complete the same assignments, and listen to the same monologue of the lecturers. We should embrace technology, work from home, and continue the ‘academic production’. The role of parents will be very fundamental in the proposed online and distance learning and will be the cause of significant differences in learning outcomes among students.
Yes, COVID-19 is here, time to rethink education. It doesn’t matter even if school/students do not complete the official syllabus; it makes no difference even if, for instance, public administration students do not write yet another standardized term paper on Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism or a political theory student miss a couple of routinised lectures on Plato’s republic. What, I feel, is really important is to unlearn the old baggage of knowledge, and derive a meaning of existence in the period of existential and ontological uncertainty. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought us to the realm of uncertainty and perplexity. Universities should no longer burden students with curriculums and syllabuses of specialized knowledge; universities and other higher institutions other than providing students with ‘technical skills’ that cultivate the prosaic intellect.
They should enforce the teaching of soft skills that will assist the students to be capable of engaging with the inherent uncertainty of existence… COVID-19 is here. It is a crisis that is that causes death, we are terribly shaken, it is masks and sanitizers. The yesterday heroes have become fearful mortals.