Following government’s closure of all learning institutions due to the global COVID – 19 pandemic, the University of Zambia – UNZA has resolved to conduct all teaching and learning activities through online and through e-learning platforms.
In this regard, the University has rolled out a fully-fledged online e-learning system for all University programmes using Moodle and Astria platforms. UNZA Registrar Sitali Wamundila confirmed in a statement made available to the Zambian Business Times – ZBT on April 7, 2020 that the e-learning platforms are ready for access by both students and staff.
He added that Staff and Students have since be informed that learning and teaching activities in all programmes and courses will commence on Tuesday, 14 April 2020.
“Students are therefore reminded that only those that are registered will be able to access the e-learning materials and other online services. It must also be noted that registration remains open and students are encouraged to pay their fees,” He added.
UNZA has since encouraged all mobile telecommunication service providers and internet service providers – ISPs to introduce special internet access plans or packages to reduce on costs associated with internet use and ensure universal access to internet for all students and staff.
Wamundila is also encouraging all students to acquaint themselves with the programmes and courses before classes commence on April 14, 2020 adding that all self-taught materials have been uploaded on the plartforms for an easier experience.
Meanwhile, the University was reported to have started carrying out research with the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research – NISIR to find a vaccine or cure for COVID – 19 under the K57 million contingency fund.
According to information obtained by ZBT, Minister of Higher Education Dr. Brian Mushimba disclosed that UNZA in conjunction with NISIR is collecting samples to understand the deadly pandemic and urged other institutions to emulate the gesture.
But when reached for a comment, UNZA researcher in the department of natural sciences Dr. Edgar Simulundu said the University has not yet received instructions or modalities on how the research will be conducted as no group has been selected to take up the study, hence no studies have been initiated or done in relation to COVID – 19.
He added that provided government gives modalities on how the study will be conducted, the institution is ready to collaborate with other institutions to study COVID – 19 with the aim of finding solutions on how to combat the pandemic.
Most learning institutions and schools in Zambia have resigned to fate, waiting for the end of the COVID 19 pandemic to resume classes. But some international schools, private schools and universities have only migrated from physical classrooms to online, avoiding the disruptions to the academic and teaching programs.
With the exception of rural based schools, modern technology offers the ability for switching from face to face to online learning methods seamlessly. But even rural based students and teachers should not be left out, solutions can be found.
Moreover, the Zambian government had embarked on putting up communication towers across the country to ensure universal access to data and internet services and this COVID 19 pandemic perhaps offers a silver lining for the ministries of communication and education to come up with methods to open schools and deliver lessons online. – ZBT