Since mid March 2020, the education sector all over the country has been on halt. This is due to the fast spreading pandemic known as COVID-19 which forced most of the country, not only schools, but businesses at large, to close down for the safety of Namibians countrywide. Having to shut down a sector such as the education sector brought major strain on the government itself to provide solutions that are well thought out and accessible for all. This is where E-learning comes in.
E-learning refers to the system that we can obtain through the internet using an electronic device, allowing technology to facilitate learning and teaching at any time, anywhere in the country. In relation to the pandemic, E-learning is the solution that would ensure minimal contact between students and teaching staff, making sure they stay safe at all times. The schools would open, but only for the teachers to get their materials onto digital platforms in order for the students to access them and continue learning. This solution would ensure that the remainder of the school year would remain intact and only have minimal changes in terms of examination and student evaluation.
In hindsight, the solution was well thought out. There only comes the issue where some regions in the country have minimal access to technology such as computers, printers, and even internet access at large. In schools of said regions, E-learning has yet to reach them and is something foreign to teachers and students. Some schools have been left behind by the technological teaching wave simply because of their lack of resources and learners are often at the most disadvantage to these circumstances. Some schools, although already in the process of learning digitally, have hit a brick wall with students that require more input from the teacher to understand. It’s no secret that all students learn differently and this has become a challenge to those schools to make sure that teaching commences, without leaving anyone behind in terms of covering the content of the syllabi.
This leaves a lot to question in terms of the initial plan around the E-learning system and how it would be rolled out to all 14 regions in the country with both an old and a new curriculum still in the system.
This not only puts pressure on the new curriculum students but leaves 26 000 matriculants in the old curriculum unsure of how the government and education sector will cater to them. In order for this program to go forward, there is still much to be finalized within the Education sector. This, and the pressure of having the second semester around the corner, only intensifies the need to successfully roll out the program or find solutions that allow students to be back in classrooms before the end of May.
From staying home indefinitely, to having the first semester of school end so abruptly, the youth have definitely taken a major hit when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. I took the time to reach out to youth in various parts of Namibia to get their take on the situation pertaining to their E-learning and the pandemic in general.
Stacey Mwilima- Caprivi Senior Secondary School
The general impact on students from my point of view is that they are not getting to study as they should.I haven’t been exposed to much e-learning as our school isn’t equipped with such technology yet. At my school, only 2 teachers have really tried to ensure learning continues even during this difficult period. As much as E-learning helps students engage with multimedia content and gives much more room for students to learn at their own pace, it begs the question that, will it cater to all students of all kinds?
William Minnie – Mariental High School
Since the 28th of March, the youth have been living in doubt and uncertainty. This was not only difficult for me but for lots of students, namely the underprivileged students. With the extension of lockdown and the introduction of E-learning, most students in my region were left with no sense of security as most of the schools are located in rural areas. E-learning here in the South has had minimal progress. This pandemic has really shone a light on the inequality we have within the education sector. The sooner we return to school, the better. The sooner we return to school, the better.
Suzanne Ouses – Donatus Secondary School
E-learning offers personalization and it requires strong self motivation. Perhaps to the disappointment of some, children have not generally been sent home to play. The idea is that they continue their education at home, in the hope of not missing out too much. Yes, E-learning shows that the Ministry of Education is really trying to keep kids learning and updated, but I do not only see this as a positive thing. There’s really nothing we can do about the COVID-19 pandemic, it was totally unexpected and everything changed in a blink of an eye.
Wayne McKay – Angra Pequena Senior Secondary
The situation brought about by the pandemic has changed the youth’s perception of hygiene. Through E-learning, many learners; including myself, had to take on the task of finding a stronger internal motivation to continue our studies without the pressure of the teachers. I, however, do not support this form of learning as it doesn’t make education accessible to everyone. Our education sector, in particular, is not fully developed to accommodate this form of learning and would leave many learners behind if we were to continue on this route.
Rebecca Kalekela – Coastal High School
E-learning is really beneficial when it comes to notes, examination preparation and other technological extras, but I personally do not enjoy having to learn online. It gives me more reason to remain on my phone, and given the distractions a phone can have, I often find myself on the wrong end of my phone. I learn better from seeing and observing so I’d rather have a teacher in front of me than on the other side of a screen. Along with that, the only thing I’m glad about is that our teachers make the effort and go the extra mile for us.
Temwani Bruhns – Deutsche Höhere Privatschule
Schools have been one of the first institutions to set up various platforms, such as E-learning . For some students it was a difficult transition from the physical classroom to the digital one, especially for those who rely on physically being in a class in order to learn. Personally, it has been extremely difficult to adjust to having to do a day’s work within hours of another day’s work. To some degree, it feels like what was once a priority like others is now front and center of my everyday life.
Josephine Heita – Canisianum Roman High School
Besides the loss of social relationships which are key to a community’s resilience which has a negative impact on the youth, I genuinely feel young people have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. The point of exams and tests is to give information on the child’s progress. The loss of this information delays the recognition of both high potential and learning difficulties amongst students and can have long term consequences for the child. E-learning, however, also gives students sufficient time to familiarize themselves with schoolwork at their own pace.