Why African Universities Must Shut Down

In The Face Of Rising Incidence of Corona Virus
Feature Article Why African Universities Must Shut Down
MAR 15, 2020 LISTEN

Within the period, countires in our region have been plagued with reported cases of the deadly Corona virus. Without recourse to specific evidences, the disease is synonymous to death. In an earlier discussion, I argued that, online education will be the way to go for now and in future. The argument still holds but for institutions that already have faculty trained enough to deliver online lectures. Howbeit, if a university is yet to school its faculty on the rudiments of online teaching, its fine but may not be a good contingency measure complimenting brick and mortar( first shut down, train staff, later reconvene).

So far, what the news media carries about the virus is deadly. A few recommendation to keep safe include keeping arm length distances from each other. It is on the heels of this recommendation that, I think African universities will be compromising the health (lives) of their students and faculty if universities are not immediately closed down with measures being thought through - to reconvene when feasible strategies are put in place.

As I posited in an earlier post, an average African classroom sits not less than 120 students. There is prima farcie evidence that, even with these numbers, the classrooms are usually crowded, with two or more person on a bench. This naturally defies the rule of giving arm length space to each other as recommended by many experts. A sneeze by one infected with the virus automatically will spread.

I would also think that, African university mangers would take clues from what has pertained with institutions that have already recorded incidences of the virus. The instructions at least as I have read so far have always been closure of the instuition with directives for workers to work from home. Although this is a good measure, there is room for a better measure. A better measure is for institutions not to wait for cases of casualties before closing work places; rather close the work place and institute measures that support working from home. This recommendation is not new as countries that are better equipped to fight the virus have taken to this measure to protect the citizenry. If measure that support immediate work from home are not in place, it is important to consider a little period of closure or loss ( which is normal in times of emergencies )and strategize to recover the losses.

In context, universities that already have faculty schooled in online education can switch to this model with students learning from home. Contrarily, universities that have faculty bankrupt in the teaching of this model will have to first close down, think through the current situation, and come out with a model that will best suit them. It is imperative to inform that, teaching faculty to teach students through the online model is not an overnight job.

What such universities may be looing is an extension of the academic period. That is a sacrifice far less than losing the lives of teachers and students. Also, attempts to continue teaching and learning in this state of panic, will lead to high rates of absenteeism, inefficiencies and related issues that may be more expensive than a shutdown. It is to be noted that, even in good times, students have challenges learning; this will be compounded by this situation.