COVID-19: UPSA students demand government’s intervention over e-learning ‘restriction’

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Some students of the University of Professional Studies, Accra have called on the management of the school to review its e-learning policy in the wake of the coronavirus-induced shut down of schools.

Citi News understands that the management of the University immediately introduced an e-learning platform for students after the President’s directive for educational institutions to shut down until further notice.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed schools in the country to shut down effective Monday, March 16, 2020 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

After the directive, UPSA migrated all academic activities including IA’s, tests and lecturing onto its e-learning platform but only students who had paid their fees in full were to be given access to the platform.

This decision according to the students is harsh and indiscriminate.

“We must first of all stress that we are not in principle against any decision by the Management of the UPSA to ensure that the unfortunate COVID-19 does not affect the academic calendar as long as there is some possibility to do so. But, to the extent that any such measures may be detrimental to some students inconsistent with what has been the practice, it would not only be an unfair but clear indication that management of the university does not even appreciate the psychological effect the said COVID-19 has brought on students,” a statement from a group calling itself the Concerned Students of University of Professional Studies noted.

The concerned students’ further disclosed that some of them depend on “Students Loan Trust Fund to pay part of their fees and those who have to wait for money from relatives abroad to pay their fees (Most of those countries have also been affected by COVID-19) while some have to go to the extent of doing informal works in order to put together money for their fees.”

The students are therefore calling on the Education Ministry to intervene on their behalf to press on management to review its decision.

Find the full statement below

CONCERNED STUDENTS OF UNIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES

UNIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES (UPSA) MUST REVIEW NO SCHOOL FEES PAYMENT NO E-LEARNING POLICY

We, the Concerned Students of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) would like to draw the attention of all stakeholders especially the Ministry of Education and by extension Government, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Staff, General Public, Students, Parents, all Media Houses, etc. as far as the operation of the UPSA is concerned on some fallouts following the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the tailing effects those fallouts are having on some students due to some measures put in place by the management of the UPSA to ensure continuity in lectures.

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We must first of all stress, that we are not in principle against any decision by the management of the UPSA to ensure that the unfortunate COVID-19 does not affect the academic calendar as long as there is some possibility to do so. But, to the extent that any such measures may be detrimental to some students inconsistent with what has been the practice, it would not only be an unfair but clear indication that management of the university does not even appreciate the psychological effect the said COVID-19 has brought on students.

Upon directives from the President of the Republic of Ghana that all Universities among other institutions to suspend their operations as at Monday, 16th March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the management of the UPSA immediately decided to move all learning activities onto an E-Learning platform where Assignments, tests, and interim assessments will be taken for the semester 40 percent out of 100 percent assessment with the caveat that all lectures must accept assignments from students who have paid and registered for the semester via E-Learning platform only (No School Fees Payment No E-Learning), email of assignments from students were and are arbitrarily rejected by lecturers as management of the university directives

This measure even though it could be seen as proactive, the approach is harsh and therefore complicating the already unstable psychological mindset inflicted upon us by the COVID-19. Why do we say so?

1. The school’s management moved onto an E-Learning without giving access to students who have not yet made full payment of their fees but will surely do that in the long run. The point here is that, as a practice, students who do not pay their semester fees within a particular period, would have to pay penalty ranging from GHC50.00 to GHC400.00 depending on which time one is making the payment before the semester’s examination. The question is why must the e-learning approach close its avenue to students who are yet to make payment of their fees when they still have to pay the appropriate penalty eventually?

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2. We have students who depend on the Students Loan Trust Fund to pay part of their fees and those who have to wait for money from relatives abroad to pay their fees (Most of those countries have also been affected by this deadly virus (COVID-19) and some have to go to the extent of doing informal works in order to put together money for their fees. And again, the question is that it is not expected that in the early stage of this panic brought by COVID-19 students or their benefactors would be struggling for money and at the same time having to quarantine themselves? In other words, is it the time to be adhering to stringent rules when some institutions as reported in the media are even giving free data to their students to enforce the e-learning approach adopted by those schools?

3. Management of the University also didn’t take into consideration students who live in rural areas, those who can’t get access to good internet signals, students who do not have laptops and those who do not even have smartphones in order to get communication to participate in the e-learning. These students were asked to leave their hostels few days after the operation of the University was suspended and had to move to their home towns where some do not have access to internet connectivity and may not even have access to the Access Bank as the bank to pay their fees through should they even have the money at hands now because they may not want to risk their lives moving to the next city where they can access the Access Bank.

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4. Management appears not to have considered the cost implication and readiness of the students on this new system. Will the students be able to afford to go on an E-Learning System every day? Certainly, this was not what the students signed up for and therefore, even though we (students) appreciate e-learning as a response to an emergency situation at hand, it is expected that the management of the UPSA must be realistic in this approach.

It is our considered view, that we are not in normal time and this is the time for management of the UPSA to relax some of its rules and not to complicate the psychology confusion of we (students) in this time and we, therefore, urge the Ministry of Education and by extension government to intervene and call the management of the UPSA to order.

We also urge the leadership of SRC to ensure that no students are denied the right to continuous access to education in this abnormal time as the e-learning technically is just an extension of the physical class which at all times until the outbreak of COVID-19 would have allowed any student who did not meet the deadline to pay his or her fees to do so at any time before semester examination and pay the appropriate penalty.

We conclude by saying, that we are not against management’s effort to ensure that students continue to take academic work serious and uninterrupted but we are against the current approach to deny students who are yet to pay their school fees to register, access to continuous education by virtue of the adoption of the e-learning platform which we consider only as an extension of the physical class before the outbreak of the COVID-19

How we wish God made all hands equal
God bless us all!

Thank you

Write & Issue by
Concerned Students of University of Professional Studies

# VoiceoftheVoiceless # TrueVoiceofthePeople
# InGodWeTrust