If there is anything that has strained students of Uganda Christian University (UCU) at the moment more than or close to the effect the crude COVID19 or the Coronavirus has had on Uganda and the global scale, it is that the students have been pressed to do end of semester examinations online amidst all that is going on. At least that is what it reveals when you go scrolling through Twitter feeds of some tweeps on the timeline (TL).
The president days ago shutdown institutions of learning all over the country, a measure that was intended to take away human concentration points for the virus to spread. While these (institutions) literally closed their physical presence, a few or one has been adamant to continue virtually like business as usual.
Hours after the president’s announcement then, UCU and other institutions continued their demand for tuition asking that the students fulfill their obligations even as they went home while every economic activity in the country stagnated. You could say the ripple effect of the virus is that some parent have even lost their jobs (even if we do not have statistics for this, it is probable given everything we know about the virus is based on a scientific models based on probabilities), just like is happening to several other employees on the global scale.
UCU has online exams scheduled for the 6th April 2020 via an e-learning platform. The students on the other hand have expressed their distaste, as reality keeps drawing closer. Their latest affront for the examinations is a petition “A fair ground for online examinations (Take – Home)” on petition.net where an anonymous author is calling for signatures challenging the scheduled examinations. The petition was authored on the 30th March 2020. Already 37 people have signed albeit at a slow pace.
“…it’s no longer fair to have our online/take-home examinations when the country is on a lock down” reads the description for the petition. The unfairness, the description reads, stems from the fact that the university seems to “to act to the advantage of only those who have laptops and other computers in their home to the detriment of others”.
It should also be noted that many of the students travelled upcountry or are in remote places with unreliable internet connection. In the petition, the author states that many of his or her colleagues hoped to rely on internet cafés and stationery shops for internet to conduct the examinations, but following the presidential ban, all those facilities will not be available, and on the other hand, securing and huge internet bundle to connect a laptop computer is a luxury given the necessary demands in this lockdown.
The students are also crying out that they cannot even access reading material or discussion to prepare for the exams.
They end the petition praying that it would be fair if UCU put “into regard our opinions better to put the lockdown into consideration and at least put the fixed dates into consideration for the later”.
It is not certain the intended number of signatures for the petition or how they will deliver the said petition to influence the universities decision, but regardless, they are moving, at least the signatures are.