It has been a roller-coaster in the world of academics since the ministry decided schools resume as planned but via e-learning platforms. The worries were mostly centred on those students and parents who do not have access to the requisite means.
Youth Corner conducted some educators around the country to find out if they are ready to resume online classes as directed by the education ministry.
An educator, who prefers anonymity, teaching at a village near Outapi in the Omusati region, told Youth Corner her main concern is learners failing due to language barriers. “Our kids cannot do anything in class without first explaining the work in vernacular; they are still going to fail. Maybe other students across the country can manage but ours need us, and being physically present is more crucial for them,” she explained, further stating that without explaining things in vernacular, the learners will not grasp the information efficiently.
Another primary school teacher at Okahitua, Vincent Karokohe, teaching at Ludwig Ndinda Primary School, said he is concerned about this directive. “I don’t think I am ready. In as a much as I am well equipped, I know how to operate all the gadgets, but my main concern is the recipients of this work mode; my learners are not ready and these are the most important custodians,” stated Karokohe.
The school is situated about 30km from Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa region and accommodates more than 380 learners in pre-primary and primary levels. “Apart from the other issues, network coverage is the biggest obstacle, and this is more difficult with learners who are scattered all over,” stated Karokohe.
He suggests e-learning be put on hold for now. “For now, I would suggest e-learning to be put on hold; it is going to disenfranchise learners in a big way, as I know many don’t have access to the e-learning platform. It was not well planned in advance; some of the teachers are not aware of how it would work,” he stressed.
Asked on whether he feels the 2020 academic year should be scrapped, Karokohe said that should be the last resort. “At the moment, cancelling the academic year should be the last resort government should embark on; we should wait until the country pronounces itself on the status of the lockdown, which is 4 May 2020, then we can think of other ways but conducting classes online will not work and benefit the masses,” concluded Karokohe, who told Youth Corner he is at least happy he has so far finished 70% of the first term’s work, which means continuing will not be difficult.
A teacher at Hoachanas settlement in the southern parts of the country’s Hardap region said as much as he is equipped to give lessons, he does not think his colleagues are in the same boat. “I do have a laptop and phone, and I can facilitate e-learning but I am concerned and worried that my older colleagues may not have the same ability due to the lack of resources,” he said.
Another fear is reaching his learners. “How will I reach my learners, and that’s why I would like to advise the government through the education ministry to set up a body which will thoroughly look at all there is to be addressed under e-learning; the same way they set up a body for the Covid-19, the same should be done to address the plight of learners under the e-learning system because it’s either we scrap e-learning or we come up with other proper ways,” he opined.
The 29-year-old said he believes promoting learners to the next grade is not entirely a bad idea and to cancel the 2019 academic year but it will be difficult for some learners to keep up. “For example, if you are teaching a learner 60 words in Grade 4 and 100 extra in Grade 5, how are they going to keep up in the fifth grade if they never finished the 60 words in the fourth grade?” he probed.