ONLINE LEARNING KICKS OFF STORM

AfricaPress-Tanzania: SOME private schools which have opted for online learning after the closure of all schools in the country due to coronavirus have been highly criticised by parents and guardians as the move imposes extra costs on them.

They are also complaining that the digital divide will make it harder for some students to learn.

As parents raise their concern, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako yesterday directed regional and district commissioners as well as districts executive directors to take legal actions against those who conduct extra studies (tuition) as the government intensifies measures to contain COVID-19.

“Stern legal and disciplinary measures should be enforced against those who conduct tuition as it is against the government measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus,” the minister said.

She called upon parents to keep close monitoring of their children at this time when the government has banned public gatherings to contain the spread of the disease.

The government suspended learning in the schools for 30 days effective March 17 this year after the country registered its first confirmed case of the viral disease.

According to the COVID -19 update, Tanzania has confirmed 20 cases of the viral disease, three recovered and one death.

Some parents said that online learning is costly because they are forced to buy internet bundles for their children to access learning materials on a daily basis, print them and scan their work and send them back to school for making.

They said they are forced to surrender their phones to the children for them to do their work so that it can be easier to send back the work to teachers or schools.

One of the parents said that he was forced to spend not less than 10,000/- per day for purchasing internet bundles.

”I am worried that this system will be hard to parents and children who have no access to internet services. He also queried whether online learning was part of the school syllabuses or not, lamenting further that “If so, then children without access to internet services will be left behind, thus affecting their performance.”

The parents also described the move by private schools as a trick to let them continue paying school fees for the entire holiday on the ground that studies were not halted.

Meanwhile, some teachers have also complained that their employers have suspended salary payments for the entire period in which students will be at home on the ground that they have no budget for salaries because children were not in school.

Mbezi based St Mary’s Secondary School, headmaster Ntipoo Reca said that online learning is for no reason other than keeping children busy with school activities while the schools are closed.

He clarified that the studies were meant to help students revise all subjects they have been taught at the schools.

“I mean that if a child is in form three, then the revisions are composed of form one up to form three studies. When the schools re-open, the studies will start where they ended at the time the government announced the closure of the schools so no student will be left behind,” he said.

He said for St Mary’s schools, there is no trick of additional school fees, adding that, if it happens that there is an extension of this emergency holiday; parents will pay for only school days.

He also clarified that there is no way St Mary Schools’ teachers will be affected in terms of salary payments.

Mr Reca urged parents with no access to internet services to seek the means, such as using relatives’ or friends’ smart phones, so that all children can move together in studies’ revisions.

The National Chairperson for Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non- Government Schools/Colleges (TAMONGSCO), Mr Leonard Mao, supported the move, saying children should effectively use the holiday opportunity to revise what they have been taught.

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