Students skeptical about E-learning amidst Coronavirus pandemic

In the beginning of this week, when every institution was issuing communiqués about their new measures in their working way to combat Coronavirus, a letter to lecturers by University of Rwanda (UR) was issued.

Written by the Vice Chancellor, the letter was requesting all lecturers to upload “all instructional materials of modules to the UR e- learning platform, not later than Friday, March 20.”

However, students are still skeptical about the feasibility of the exercise. Lambert Mukwiye, a Chemistry student at UR, welcomed the idea but however said there are still some challenges that might hinder its implementation.

“Although e-learning is the best option at hand, not all students have access to the internet and that lecturer-student follow up will be cut off,” he explained.

That was echoed by Christian Mukama, a third year student in the School of Journalism and Communication at UR, pointing out that the internet requires means that students might not have.

“E-learning is viable if everyone can access the internet which is not free and whose cost might be a heavy load for students,” attested Mukama, adding that it will be much easier if the students will still be given the living allowance to facilitate them.

Other students who preferred to stay anonymous expressed their concerns for practical courses such as workshops for engineers and laboratories for natural sciences.

Students will be informed

Speaking to Prof. Philip Cotton, UR vice chancellor, he underscored that students should stop misinterpreting his letters to the staff.

“My letter to the faculty was about how the faculty would exploit the 2 weeks closure and push to digitize teaching activities. There is absolutely no demand for students to go online,” Cotton explained.

He told Kaminuza Star that he will address them [students] a letter for matters concerning them.

“For instance, if College of Medicine and Health Sciences has 70 percent of  studying materials online, the statement was the last push to get the remaining 30 percent online while teaching is suspended,” he explained.

University of Rwanda has suspended teaching activities as a move to contain of COVID-19 after confirming the first case in Rwanda on March 14th.

The university’s statement came out on Sunday complementing drastic preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Education, under which the university operates, and the Ministry of Health. Closing all schools, universities, churches and public gatherings were among the measures taken.