Some students of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) are protesting the running of the school’s electronic learning platform which is accessible only to students who have paid their fees in full.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed an indefinite shutdown of schools across the country to prevent spread of the disease.
He thus tasked the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, to collaborate in rolling out distance learning programmes for students while at home.
Some universities in line with the directive have since moved academic work to online platforms to make up for the remaining weeks of the semester.
But in a statement by a section of the student body, calling itself the “Concerned Students of UPSA,” while, the decision by the university’s management to continue the academic calendar in the face of COVID-19 was proactive, the approach to accessing the e-learning platform was “harsh.”
“To the extent that any such measure may be detrimental to some students inconsistent of what has been the practice would not only be unfair but a clear indication that management of the university does not even appreciate the psychological effect the COVID-19 has brought on students,” the group argued.
According to them, in any case, the school already had a penalty outlined for students who failed to pay their fees within a particular period but did so in the long run, questioning therefore, why the “e-learning approach closes its avenue to students who are yet to make payment of their fees when they still have to pay the appropriate penalty eventually.”
The group contended that most students depend on the Students Loan Trust Fund and in many cases, relatives abroad who have also been hit by the pandemic, to pay their fees while some go to the extent of doing informal work to put money together for payment of fees.
Issue of access to the platform by students in rural areas and cost implication of the initiative on students was also put across by the group, appealing to management to be “realistic in this approach by relaxing some of its rules so not to complicate the psychological stress on students as a result of the COVID-19.”
The students thus called on the Ministry of Education to intervene to impress on management to review their decision.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH