With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through nations worldwide, Cameroon is not left out, reporting over 1000 cases as of April 23, 2020. As the Central African nation struggles to prevent the disease from spreading further, the government decided to shutdown educational facilities nationwide – a drastic measure that matches the scale of the crisis.
To ensure the continuity of learning, Varsities have launched online learning courses on their official websites and WhatsApp is equally being used. In light of such measures, Gina Informs finds out how students are coping with the unprecedented move to remote learning.
Relindis is a final year student in the University of Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon, she hopes the coronavirus crisis will not prevent her from completing her studies this year, she has a smart phone and has access to the internet, but frequent power cuts and a slow internet connection remains a problem. She is not the only one facing this plight.
“For now students are complaining about how they will survive this, not everyone has a smartphone and in Buea there are frequent power cuts. Internet connection is another problem, it has been very slow. I wonder how feasible e Learning will be,” Relindis says.
While governments across the world enforce effective measures necessary to prevent the spread of the disease, Cameroon moved to suspend academic institutions until June 1, 2020, in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Moving from the classroom to remote learning, via classes on state owned television, WhatsApp, and other platforms is a great move but not everyone has access to television or smart devices.
The measure seems to have created a big gap in education access. Some students have aired concerns about limited internet access.
Daniel is a student in the Faculty of Law; Common Law Department in the University of Douala, Littoral Region of Cameroon. Just like some other students in the university, Daniel tells Gina Informs he has some preoccupations with online classes in the University of Douala.
“We have been asked to study online but no verification has been made on how stable the internet connection is in the country. Not everyone has a smart phone, not to talk of a Laptop,” Daniel says.
“At times we do not have access to an online platform created by the University of Douala, we can’t continue like this till June 1.”
Daniel says the school administration should be aware, because students have voiced complaints but the situation has not changed.
“A lecturer told us to take it the way it is, it’s just a few months and weeks,” he said. As Cameroon grapples with the pandemic, school closures which are meant to aid the general population have unintentionally edged out students who are not privileged to access online platforms – a struggle which may be more burdensome as the Prime Minister announced school could resume on June 1, 2020 in a bid to curb coronavirus risks.