Dr Paul Loisulie, the chairman of the Tanzania Higher Learning the Institutions Trade Union (THTU) said here yesterday that the reduction of internet bundle prices should be part of Social Corporate Responsibly (SCR) to help the society to adjusdt to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also urged local researchers and scientists in various higher learning institutions to make well use of their knowledge and invest in coming up with new approaches to bring positive answers in the battle against Covid-19.
“It is also an opportunity for industrialists and small scale entrepreneurs to produce more protective gears and sell them inside and outside Tanzania,” the unionist noted.
Similarly, the official opposition camp in Parliament yesterday asked the government to come up with long and short term strategies to facilitate distance learning for primary and secondary school students during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
“The proposed education budget should include putting in place e-learning facilitates to enable teachers to have contacts with students through the internet. It is crucial to come up with alternative teaching approaches instead of relying on traditional methods which are currently not usable,” Shadow Education Minister Suzan Lyimo said.
Tabling the opposition proposed education budget for the 2020/2021 financial year, Lyimo was concerned that there are over 14m students with 12m primary and 2m secondary school pupils staying at home during the outbreak. Among them there are candidates for this year’s coming national examinations, she affirmed.
The government should look into ways to facilitate availability of smartphones and tablets since many students cannot afford them. She said mobile phone companies should consider to lower data charges to enable students to download learning materials.
These suggestions blended well with proposals by academic staff and auxiliary personnel for a raft of measures to keep the education sector moving amid Covid-19, including formalisation of distance and electronic learning.
Addressing journalists here yesterday, the THTU chairman said that the pandemic has adversely affected education. Thousands of students in public schools are staying at home since last month while a handful in private institutions struggle to continue with lessons online, he stated.
“The remedy is for the government to formalize and invest in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure so that learning can resume since no one knows when the pandemic will end,” he declared.
He also challenged universities and colleges to come up with strategies and utilize well opportunities available in modern technology to reach students with daily lessons wherever they are as well as testing strategies.
As the country struggles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus with schools closed, parents and guardians are stranded with no idea of the future of their children’s education, he observed.
“The idleness piles pressure on parents who have to juggle between work and keeping an eye on the children to keep them safe from coronavirus.”
He said that lessons may be posted through digital platforms, radio or TV programmes using universities and college tutors available in particular areas.
“This issue should be taken seriously. We should make sure that we come up with educational technologies to provide remote online learning opportunities for university students. The disease has destroyed all arranged plans and what is needed is an alternative way to move forward,” he asserted.
He hailed the programme established by the Tanzania Education Institute to provide online schooling through television channels and radios but urged improvements in order to reach pupils and students across the country.