University online learning ‘discriminatory;: Parents seek Govt’s intervention

Some parents living in rural areas have described the decision to introducing online learning by universities in the country as discriminatory and have asked government to intervene.

The reaction comes in the face of online learning methodology which has been embraced by some institutions of higher learning during this period when schools remain closed in adherence to coronavirus public health guidelines.

Some of the universities that have commenced running the lessons include DMI, UNILIA and DEYANG LUKE. Confirmed reports indicates that Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) is also rolling out the methodology soon.

“MUST is pleased to announce opening dates for its 2nd Semester which will be administered on e-learning platform,” the university announced on Wednesday and added that efforts are being taken to support students with challenges accessing gadgets and internet connectivity.

In an interview, Joyce Soko, who lives in Bolero, Rumphi and has her child pursuing medical microbiology at MUST, described the move as discriminatory against the poor.

“Last week the school called my son for an orientation on online learning which was held at Katoto secondary school in Mzuzu,” she said.

“From there, he told me they are going to start online classes any day this month and I have to prepare for some data costs.”

“And the data costs are very expensive. Imagine, how can a poor woman in the rural areas like here manage to raise K30,000 per week? This program is for the rich.”

Khumbo Mithi, a parent living in Mhuju in Rumphi who has his daughter pursuing chemistry at the University of Livingstonia, implored for the management to consider suspending the program.

“Network is a problem,” she said. “We have a very intermittent network and with the introduced online learning methodology, I fear for my child.”

Government announced closure of schools on March 23 this year in a race to contain the devastating plague, corona virus.

With the cases of the pandemic escalating, reopening of schools remains uncertain as recently the presidential taskforce on coronavirus advised that reopening schools would, in the meantime, worsen the situation.