The world as we know it is reeling under the effects of the global pandemic that is COVID 19. The highly contagious, still mysterious disease, has found its way into almost every single corner of the world and though it seemed to take its time, in the beginning, it has now brought its brand of havoc to African shores and to Ghana. The scariest thing about COVID 19 is how fast it spreads and how quickly it can move among a population, this is why in most countries measures being taken to manage the virus have included movement restrictions of varying degrees in an attempt to minimise the population’s risk of exposure and keep public health systems from being overwhelmed.
Some of these restrictions have included bans on social gatherings including religious meetings, closure of all educational facilities, and in some extreme cases closure of businesses and all movements deemed as non-essential in a total lockdown scenario. These measures have achieved some level of success in slowing down the spread of the virus in individual countries but the need to keep them in place for a prolonged period of time has led to the search for alternative ways of doing things so time isn’t wasted completely, businesses are experimenting with work from home models and schools are trying to complete academic cycles using online tuition.
While it is a great way to work around the restrictions imposed by COVID 19 while we wait for things to clear up, online classes, especially in these parts of the world, are definitely not ideal. Online tuition requires students to first, have access to electronic devices that will allow for smooth participation.
Students also need reliable internet access which especially is neither readily available nor easily affordable in these parts of the world. 100MB of data costs on average Ghc 1.50 while the typical online class will require anywhere between 100 and 500MB of data depending on the medium. This is a huge challenge to students and creates additional obstacles in an already tough learning process, the situation is even worse for foreign students.
Foreign students who have been unable to return to their home countries during this crisis face an extremely tough reality in these times. All the issues posed by online classes, mentioned above, are felt even more acutely by foreign students as they don’t often have the buffer of family to help out here. In addition, they are more likely to be psychologically affected by the pandemic given how far away they are from home. Some of them whose parents and guardians are under strict lockdown conditions are also hampered by a cut in the flow of funds either due to a shortage of funds due to restrictions on business, or an inability to transfer funds due to restrictions on movement.
Either way, these students are having to constantly decide between other basic necessities like food, water, etc. and acquiring the needed tools to partake in online classes, which are mostly compulsory. Reports received by Stephen Krah-Mensah Junior , the SRC president of Jayee University College, from some foreign students in the school indicate that the situation really is taking a huge toll on these students.
In light of this, we entreat embassies to take special notice of their citizens who might fall into this category and provide help where possible. Help could come in the form of financial assistance of some sort of help with some basic needs like food. For some embassies who have a large number of student citizens in the country, which makes it difficult to single out students for help, the best way to ensure that no one is left out is for students of a common nationality to come together and form unions or groups which can represent them in interactions with their respective countries’ embassies. This would aid in a fair distribution of resources the embassies can spare to alleviate the plight of foreign students which will assuredly be received with enormous gratitude.
BY Nadia Agyeiwaa Atiemo ( Deputy Speaker Of Parliament, Jayee University College SRC)