OMUTHIYA – Governments around the world have closed educational institutions in an attempt to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, and some institutions now offer classes online to ensure teaching is not severely disrupted by the virus that has impacted many sectors.
Covid-19 has exposed the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in many sectors, including education. While some learners can continue their classes online, those without access to computers and the internet are left out. Director of education in Oshikoto region Aletta Eises supports the move to offer online classes during the pandemic, saying it is an excellent move.
“The introduction of online classes will keep students busy, focused and not idle. They will make use of e-learning and e-books to be on par with the coursework of different courses,’’ said Eises.
Asked about the percentage of computer literacy among learners in the region, Eises said about 50% of schools have internet connectivity and access to computers. “From the 220 schools in Oshikoto region, 111 schools are connected to the internet, which means learners are exposed to ICT in schools. We have three libraries built through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) programme, connected to the internet, where learners can also make use of computers,’’ said Eises.
Unfortunately, despite internet facilities being available at some schools in the region, the majority of households do not have access to the internet nor personal computers, making it almost impossible for the education sector to transition to online classes during this pandemic.
Equally so, rural electrification in the region and country as a whole is at a snail pace, which hinders access to ICT. “Although learners have access to computers at school, I cannot confirm whether they have access at most of their homes,’’ said Eises.
The education director is, however, adamant the education management and its teachers will ensure learners are up to speed once school resumes. This she attributes to the region’s proactive nature.
“Oshikoto is generally a proactive region; our learners are definitely not behind with the syllabus, as our schools operate until 15:00 hours daily and also, in some instances, on Saturdays; therefore, it is safe to say we will be able to manage to cover the appropriate areas of the syllabus.”
Eises further stated that the region’s senior education officers are hard at work through consultation with teachers at various schools to capture an accurate picture of what the status is on the ground in terms of how far each school has progressed with the scheme for the first term.
“This will allow us to make informed and more effective measures in recovering the lost teaching and learning time (whether to add a period to the timetables or to introduce Saturday classes for two or three hours). Thus, we are already busy putting plans/measures in action for the next trimester,’’ assured Eises.
For the grade 12 learners who may be anxious as to whether they would be ready for the final exam, Eises assured them the oral examinations will only start in September; therefore, there is ample time to prepare our learners properly for the 2020 examinations. Additionally, she says, “this would be the second part of the two-year course of the old curriculum/legacy curriculum. They have to work out and follow study time-tables and review work from 2019, as well as the material they covered during the first term. They just have to be committed, focussed and study hard – making good use of this time.’’
Finally, she urged parents to play an important role during this time by supervising their children and encouraging them to continue studying and reading. “The primary school learners must read at least three hours per day under parental supervision. Learners at junior secondary and senior secondary level should seriously set up study time tables, review their work and study. They now have ample time to focus on their studies and prepare for the next term,’’ she concluded.