University Of Liberia Reverts To Conditional “Blended Learning” Semester
In an effort to find an amicable solution to the concern of students regarding ” E- learning,” the University of Liberia (UL) has reverted to a conditional “Blended learning” so as to allow the students to have a smooth learning environment commencing the second semester of the Academic Year 2020/2021.
The ” Blended Learning” will give students the opportunity to have as many traditional in-person classes as possible from the perspective of full adherence to health guidelines which are still in effect, and as much E- Learning as necessary.
Speaking to journalists in Monrovia at the main campus of the University on its Capitol Hill campus, the President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Sawolo Nelson asserted that the school is cognizant of the fact that Liberia is not fully out of the “Third Wave” of the CovID-19 spread and that health protocols are still in place, so participation in the traditional learning aspect of this “Blended Learning” semester is conditional.
According to Dr. Nelson, everyone coming on the campuses of University of Liberia must wash their hands at the gates and wear facemask at all time while on campus.
“Students signing up for in-person sessions are highly encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine or must present at a specific interval negative Rapid Test results. Number of students allowed in a session will be determined by the size of the room assigned.
“University employees and students are expected to uphold all other aspects of the revised COVID-19 guidelines released by our health authorities. With these changes affecting the conduct of the current semester, a new calendar of activities has been released by Academic Affairs,” Dr. Nelson added.
It can be recalled the students of the University of Liberia staged a peaceful protest but later turned violent on the Capitol Hill campus, calling on the UL authorities to revisit its decision on the 100% E- Learning for the second semester of academic 2020/2021 for the students.
According to the students, they want the President of the University, Dr. Nelson to make E-Learning sixty (60%) while face-to-face is 40%, stating that both the students and lecturers do not have adequate internet facility and majority of the them are not computer literate.
Dr. Nelson further indicated that recently, aggrieved students of the University of Liberia, saddened by the technical challenges associated with the full E- Learning semester, elected to exercise the option of expressing discontentment through protest on the Capitol Hill campus.
He added that this is allowed at the University of Liberia, and it, unfortunately, degenerated into violent episodes and was extended beyond the campus perimeters.
“There are reports of multiple injuries sustained by students and staff as well as the destruction of property on Capitol Hill campus and in parts of Sinkor,” Nelson said.
Dr. Nelson stated the University of Liberia strongly condemns these acts of violence perpetrated by some of the students and assured that the conclusion of the ongoing investigation, those found culpable will bear the full weight of the rules and regulations of the “Revised Student Handbook” of the University.
He added that it is the right of every student-based organization to protest but can be exercised without resorting to violence or compromising public peace and safety, noting, “Violence has never resolved any problem in the history of Liberia.”
“This is why we continuously teach men and women of the University of Liberia to choose dialogue over violence as a path to resolution of grievances while respecting their rights to peaceful assembly and protest as well as the right of others.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson mentioned that the University of Liberia recent decision to have gone completely 100% E- Learning was not intended to undermine the learning environment but it came as a result when the Incident Management Team (IMS) and the Ministry of Health announced that the Delta Variant of COVID-19 had hit the shores and that Liberia was experiencing a new wave of infection of this deadlier and more contagious variant as the end result, existing health protocols were revised and reinforced.
Against this new reality, UL Administration consulted with students through their Representative, with faculty through the UL Faculty Association, with staff through the UL Staff Association, the UL Joint Administrative Council, and Faculty Senate and arrived at the decision to run a fully online semester with flexibility in a bid to eliminate the possibility of a contagious disease involving students or members of the faculty on any of the campuses.
“We consulted with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education and the National Commission on Higher Education and gave reasons behind our decision to conduct a full online semester with flexibility. Unfortunately, the start of the E-Learning Semester was delayed by more than two weeks due to a combination of technical and non-technical challenges, which pushed us into additional consultation with all stakeholders and partners” Nelson narrated.
However, he said the University of Liberia has also kept track of the COVID-19 situation and changes in the numbers reported by health authorities.
These numbers, he said, now indicate a significant decline in infection rate.
Improvement in the statistics and the availability of a new batch of the vaccines as well as rapid testing kits provided the opportunity to rethink the conduct of the second semester 2020/2021, Nelson explained.
“On the basis of these developments, and in consultation with all stakeholders, the University of Liberia hereby reverts to a Blended Learning for the current semester and classes will resume on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 and end on Saturday, November 27, 2021,” the UL head said.