By Delton Domah
Nobody needs to be reminded that our world has been halted and everyone is somehow a suspected case of the Covid-19. To have this pandemic contained, most countries across the globe (both developed and underdeveloped) have introduced different safety guidelines to protect their citizens. One of those rules is social distancing, and many public and private sectors have been shutdown. Citizens are have been asked to stay home as a means to contain the virus. These measures are extremely good since the virus is transmissible from a person to another. Liberia as a country has followed suit. Let me commend the president and the legislature for ordering the state of emergency, but my disappointment is that the legislature nor the president did not outline or mention anything about the continuation of the school year.
As a nation that has experienced war and ebola, I expected that by now our leaders would be forging for the digitalization of Liberia to help every sector of our country.. Why it is true that western countries are lockdown, kids are still continuing their education, and parents are still working online and getting paid. Unlike Liberia and other poorer countries in the world that do not have any digital system in place to help keep kids focus on their lessons. We are talking about 90 days of state of emergency. After the state of emergency we are likely to be running into a new school year if things rapidly improve. But here is the tragic thing that nobody wants to talk about. Our kids did not get to complete the curriculum for the school year, and they might skip essential topics that were to be learned. The second aspect of the lockdown is that the government and the world are not certain as to when this pandemic will be over. Looking at this, I am pressed to understand what mechanisms the Ministry of Education is prioritizing to enhance the education sector so we cannot missed out from March to sometimes next year as it was in 2014. I have been hearing of the MOE using the radio to teach. How did they arrive here? Will it be functional? In a worse case scenario, if this virus was to continue until mid 2021; will we continue to teach kids on the radio? How effective will this be when students have various learn styles (visual, auditory, etc.)
If the world is to experience this pandemic for about a year or more, does it mean our kids will not get to continue their studies from home? What become of students at the tertiary level? Are we considering to introduce a platform for learning that would benefit all? I believe the government through the MOE has a greater responsibility to issue new recommendations to the legislators for the continuation of kids’ education across the country. We have a whole lot more people who are illiterate in our society because of poor decisions that were made by previous officials of government. Our leaders must find a way around this before it is too late. I would recommend that the few professionals and few brilliant students in the ICT sector, and the Ministry of Education hold a virtual meeting via zoom to see if they can come up with a solution especially that no one knows when this virus would end and social distancing has become a fundamental way of getting around it. For once, let us think outside of the box. Let the education ministry negotiate with the government to do some compromise on taxes from GSM and ISP companies and make the access to internet affordable and with better signal. If other nations can do this for their people we too can. By doing this we have our team in the ICT sector a better opportunity to do more research and bring us viable solutions. Our students will begin to take online classes via the internet and understand the importance of discussion, participation and have access to school works even after the school year. Most of all, we’ll be solving the issue of bribery and sex for grades in the education sector. It is our innovation that can cause our country progress. Let us not allow our children and youths to sit down for the next few months or years without learning anything. I appeal with authority at the MOE, the legislators, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and all requisite authority of government to thoroughly evaluate this message, and consider providing a better learning environment for all young people.
Delton Domah is a Liberian student studying Computer Information Science at ECPI University in Virginia, USA.
He is an Ambassador at the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Volunteered at the 25th Youth Assembly in New York, Member of the National Youth Campaign Against Covid-19 – Liberia, and a Youth leader.