The education sector is bearing the full brunt of Covid-19


Photo: Zimbabwe school children | UNICEF
Abigirl Phiri, abigirlphiri@gmail.com

Worth Noting:

  • Interestingly, this goes without saying that e-learning is encumbering the “right” to education, which is a must for every student from the primary level up to tertiary. Undoubtedly the “right” to education has gone into mud plus this has resulted in child labour cases as Covid-19 has taken its toll on the school dropouts. In fact, the adoption of online learning has become a bone of contention for all the parties involved.
  • Unfortunately, even though radio lessons were introduced, their purpose were defeated by electricity cuts. Likewise, it has to be taken into account that not all the households have radios. In particular, the impaired in hearing and vision students did not emerge unscathed from this whole e-learning fiasco.

The advent of online learning in Zimbabwe has become a nightmare for the hordes of the unsuspecting students who were caught unawares with this change. This is because these students come from different walks of lives, henceforth no more than ever their social class disparities are quite crystal clear for all to see.

Thus, not all of them have access to the gadgets to use to access the internet just as well many if not most of these students can’t even meet up with the high data bundle costs which are ever on the rise. From a survey conducted, it was discovered that only a generous number of students held possession of smartphones and laptops.

Interestingly, this goes without saying that e-learning is encumbering the “right” to education, which is a must for every student from the primary level up to tertiary. Undoubtedly the “right” to education has gone into mud plus this has resulted in child labour cases as Covid-19 has taken its toll on the school dropouts. In fact, the adoption of online learning has become a bone of contention for all the parties involved.

Unfortunately, even though radio lessons were introduced, their purpose were defeated by electricity cuts. Likewise, it has to be taken into account that not all the households have radios. In particular, the impaired in hearing and vision students did not emerge unscathed from this whole e-learning fiasco.

On all intents and purposes, it is a challenge for them to use this new learning modality. Therefore, the brutal truth of the matter is that both able-bodied and those living with disabilities are still not yet out of the woods. To cap it off, some teachers and lecturers are technophobic, thereby worsening an already bad situation. As a matter of fact, they are having a hard time metamorphosing with this change to deliver their teachings and lectures through various social media platforms, with the cheapest being WhatsApp.

For that reason, it has been coined “e-learning is only good if one has got access.” Particularly, some have gone further to state, “it is not for the poor”. Therefore, Covid-19 has disrupted the educational sector immensely.

For university students they faced the full brunt of the pandemic especially in 2020, the semesters were cut short plus the freshman first short real taste of campus life wasn’t that memorable as this transition from high school to the university should be savoured.

Having said that, for some on attachment their contracts were terminated without being given full and fair warning whilst others currently are even failing to secure internships positions. Adding to that, the 2020 graduates just like myself virtually graduated at home, missing out on the much awaited graduation which usually happens once in a blue moon for a typical university graduate. Likewise, the PhD students were not spared from this drama.

Worse for those researching on practical issues they have fallen back on schedule due to the pandemic, thus everything is literally in shambles despite the introduction of the full-fledged online learning.

The truth of the afore mentioned matter warrants a clarion call to the policymakers to increase ICT infrastructure for the students in bucolic areas and to intercede on the students welfare. Also, the lectures should be adequately trained so that they upgrade their ICT skills.

Conversely, the bad turn of events shouldn’t deter students from becoming successful in their academic pursuits because a wise man stated a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Instead, students should brave the pandemic and resiliently achieve their academic goals through all forms of learning. They have to take in stride that Covid-19 global pandemic is here, and it is real. In short, life difficulties should not hamper their educational journey.

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