Photo taken on Jan. 13, 2021 shows a student following up a lesson through a smartphone in Blantyre, Malawi. A number of Malawian universities are switching to online learning due to a heavy hit of COVID-19 second wave which has disturbed most social gatherings in the country. (Photo by Joseph Mizere/Xinhua)
BLANTYRE, Malawi, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A number of Malawian universities are switching to online learning due to a heavy hit of COVID-19 second wave which has disturbed most social gatherings in the country.
The Polytechnic is one of the constituent colleges in the University of Malawi. The college has lately introduced an Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning (ERT&L) system for all students at the college which allows lecturers to deliver their class modules online.
According to the college, the process of implementing ERT&L commenced with the consultation of key stakeholders on how best the college could resume studies in line with dangers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the college is using "moodle" and "the big button" as online learning platforms. The platforms allow students to access class lessons off-campus.
For Nomsa Zimba, a 22-year old student at the college, the new system is much better than the normal class learning because it brings a bigger opportunity for students to follow through with the lessons at their own convenient time.
"For months we have been worrying about whether our schools will be opened or not. Furthermore, opening schools added more anxiety to us considering the fact that social gatherings risk everyone to COVID-19. With this new learning system, both students and teachers are at ease knowing that there is less risk to COVID-19," she said.
On Jan. 12, President Lazarus Chakwera declared the country as a state of national disaster following a rampant increase of COVID-19 cases, which saw many educational institutions closed to ease the situation.
The development, according to Kamanga, a parent of two college students, will somehow affect her finances. In an interview with Xinhua, she said that data rates in Malawi are very expensive which in some ways will limit most students to participate in online lessons.
She said to curb the challenge, there is a need for network providers in Malawi to provide cheap internet bundles in this time of the pandemic that will ease the accessibility of the internet among students in universities.
"Because internet charges are high in Malawi, it will be very hard for me to provide internet bundles for my children on top of fees that are already struggling to pay for my children. I believe that the government can intervene to ensure that almost every student is accessing the internet for education," she said.
Despite the outcry of high internet costs in the country, many students have welcomed the development. They believe that this will keep them progressing with their studies unlike sitting home waiting for the pandemic to end and resume classes. Enditem