Students who have not been able to register their courses due to their inability to settle their bills will be cleared to register and partake in the ongoing e-learning modules by tertiary institutions in Ghana following a stakeholder engagement by the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) with the National Council for Tertiary Education and other stakeholders.
The leadership of USAG after receiving numerous complaints from students begun consultations with the necessary stakeholders on effective implementation of the E-learning policy employed by the various universities across the country to ensure academic work for 2019/2020 is completed admit the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In ensuring the effectiveness of the E-learning policy, the National Council for Tertiary Education together with the necessary stakeholders have indicated their willingness to corporate with USAG. All the requests placed have been welcomed by the council and work is currently being done to ensure that most, if not all are implemented,” this was contained in a USAG release signed by the General Secretary, Joshua K. Opey.
“Negotiations with mobile network operators to make the popular virtual meeting platforms used for educational purposes free is now at its concluding stage and students will soon be able to have access to such sites for free.”
According to USAG, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) is currently engaging Vice Chancellors Ghana and other necessary stakeholders to provide a substantive roadmap for the conclusion of the 2019/2020 academic year.
- That the necessary stakeholders ensure popular academic websites/platforms be zero-rated to allow easy and unlimited access to online resources. These popular academic websites include ‘Google classroom, Zoom, Jstor and Google scholar’. We believe that charges that come along with accessing these sites are very huge and will, therefore, be a hurdle to students who happen to be prime stakeholders in the implementation of this policy. Scrapping off data charges on these sites will, therefore, be a step in the right direction.
- We have urged the Government to implement a 50% cut on the current 9% Communication Service Tax (CST) for this period of the outbreak. A reduction in CST is likely to be the greatest token Government can offer these service providers to fully obtain the needed support to implement an effective E-learning system. With the understanding that most students embark on research routines, usage of data to access information from various online sites is imminent. A reduction in CST will, therefore, allow service providers to come up with reasonable and affordable data packages that will prove to be very beneficial to students as well as the entire citizenry, especially considering the fact that numerous people rely on such services during these times.
- Regarding beneficiaries of the Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF), which is a scheme by the government, we have suggested a deferment of interest charges on loans. This is due to the fact that, debtors who are to work to reimburse the fund are likely to be affected by the various restrictions in place to check the spread of the coronavirus. It will, therefore, make it difficult for them to access funds for such repayments. For this reason, we have demanded a 3-month freeze of interest charges on repayment beginning from the month of April.
USAG in its statement noted that they have received assurance from the NCTE that students who have not been able to register their courses due to their inability to settle their bills will be cleared to register and partake in the e-learning process.
The statement further indicated that institutions such as the University for Development Studies (UDS) that practice 3 semesters per academic year are also being included in the plans of the various stakeholders.
The leadership of USAG has reiterated its resolve to forward all complaints to the necessary stakeholders as they work to optimize the policy to ensure that no student is left out
“In the coming days, we will furnish you with our engagements with the Vice Chancellors Ghana with regards to the formulation of the roadmap,” the statement stated.