Makerere Main Building

University Students and Lecturers are still frustrated by online learning and teaching systems yet it is the only way reading materials are supposed to reach students.

Most Universities reopened for continuing students to complete their semester two of academic year 2019/2020 which was not completed when education institutions were closed.

In March 2020, as one way of controlling the spread of Covid-19, the government put a closure on all education institutions.

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As a way of keeping serving students who were home, different universities introduced online teaching and learning, however, this has not been well with both students and lecturers who are supposed to use the system.

Professor Elli Katunguka Rwakishaya, the Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor told our reporter that ever since they started online teaching, the administration has received complaints from both students and lecturers citing the failure to use online methods of delivering study materials.

“We are aware of challenges of ODel (Open, Distance E-learning), that is why for the students who had come around, we allowed them to use our internet to be able to get some materials because where they are, they have no internet or gadgets, that is why if we open, we shall give them sufficient time for face to face so that those who are failing can get the opportunity to ask questions and to be given assignments,” says Prof. Katunguka.

Kyambogo University adopted Open, Distance E-learning (ODel), electronic mode of delivering study materials to students through digital resources. It is provided through electronic devices such as computers, tablets and even cellular phones that are connected to the internet.

At Makerere University, students claim that since the time online learning started, it has been a misfortune to students. Makerere developed Makerere university E-learning Environment-MUELE system, which enables every student to register and attend classes. Teachers can also upload reading materials on the system for students.

According to Nelson Bahati, a finalist at the Department of Journalism and Communication says MUELE is a slow system that cannot allow many users at a time. The system also requires students to have university email, yet few people are available to help students open institutional email accounts.

 “Imagine, college of humanities and social sciences with over 6000 students in five schools with only two authorized people to open emails for students at the college,” Bahati explains.

Makerere University currently has over 38,000 students, whereby not even 20,000 can afford being on the MUELE system at the same time due to traffic. On the other hand, the system is not understood by both students and lecturers.

Bahati says that lecturers have been trained well to use the system, instead they resorted to teaching on zoom and cloud meeting Apps that made it hard for students. This is because of the high data charges required to attend lectures of four to six hours per day.

A student needs a minimum of 3GB to attend three classes per day, each lecture planned for two hours.

Students further reveal that sometimes, lecturers chose to start zoom lectures of a class of 300 students, but only 70 students attend, while others remain behind due to lack of data and other internet related challenges.

In January, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University communicated to students and staff that the University had opened for finalists on 8th February and that the mode of study would be online, students do not know whether the university has improved the system or it will provide data for the zoom lectures. Students get worried whenever they hear of the proposal to study online.

John Mbaziira, a student of Kyambogo University says that the University keeps on boosting how the students are learning online, yet a number of students have never accessed studies on Online and lecturers struggle to send study materials.

A second year student of Makerere University Business School-MUBS who preferred anonymous said, the whole online system has benefited few students, yet it is intended to help all. She says that students can manage to observe the required SOPs; therefore, Universities should open for physical lectures.

Makerere and Kyambogo Universities will open for continuing students to appear for physical lectures on 1st March.