Stop gambling with the lives of students

Thandizo Kawerama

Nobody signed up for all the unexpected changes in 2020, and students most definitely did not register for them. It’s not fair to put blame on anyone as not many could have planned ahead for a pandemic. However the reality is that students forced into distance and e-learning are not receiving the level of courses and study that they agreed to when they registered at the beginning of the year. And yet, they are being asked to perform at high levels in the face of uncertainty.

It’s unfair to assume that students will be able to produce the same results they would have under different circumstances. Being on campus gave students the common ground of using the same facilities, accessing the same learning materials and performing in the same environment, at the same time.

Students who studied off of campus did so by choice. Now all university students have to carry on with their studies away from campuses whether they like it or not. Shifting to online learning is not a bad thing, but it becomes difficult when students are treated as if they still have the same equal access to facilities that they had when they were on campus. Changes have been made to the academic calendar to accommodate the shift in teaching modes, but it feels as though we are treating students like learning exists in a vacuum outside of the global pandemic.

Furthermore, sending students reminders that they have to pay their school fees during a pandemic that is costing people their jobs doesn’t seem like the most reassuring thing to do.

Students who already are struggling to find jobs will now feel the pressure to squabble for money to pay off their school fees. This seems just a tiny bit unfair especially considering the services provided before the pandemic won’t even be covered by the payments. Students are essentially being told to pay for trial and error. Many students who depend on NSFAF won’t be able to meet requirements for financial aid. They may not be able to provide all the required documentation, as some aren’t even in the same town as the documents left behind during the lockdown. There is just too much uncertainty for universities to carry on like its business as usual.

There has to be some kind of middle ground where all students can carry on with their studies while their online accessibility is taken into consideration. If we don’t make provision for all students no matter their background, there will be devastating consequences now and in the long run.

Not having internet access, laptops, or even electricity to begin with is costing many students their futures. The poverty gap will only get bigger because many were stripped of their chance to new opportunities. We love to talk so much about how the youth are the future of our country, but when they start struggling we leave them to the wolves. Education for many is the one chance they get to level the playing field in life, let’s not take it away from them.

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