Students concerned over lack of electronic learning equipment

By Peter Gatkuoth

Since March 20, 2020, the educational radio program for children was launched on Radio Miraya and other radio stations to enable children to continue with their learning while schools remained closed.

The education facilities have been shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic. The program aimed to ensure children are staying engaged and continue to learn.

The Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGE&I) together with UNICEF and other education partners developed radio programs for primary and senior classes.

However, the students say there are lots of challenges during the electronic learning and they called for organizations to provide them with radios.

Gai Kuol Kai is a senior four candidate at Future Secondary School, says it is total different the time they were in class and now because during the class you are able to ask teacher.

 He says it is heard to ask questions during the radio learning program because the telephone number provided for questions was not enough to accommodate all students to ask their questions during the listening hours.

“Before this pandemic all the students were in different schools in which when you are in class, you have chance to ask the teachers and whoever didn’t attend the lesson or whoever didn’t pay attention while the teacher was teaching, the teacher will target him/her. But this time it is up to you whether you can put your radio on to listen or you don’t. It seems we are in one class. When the radio is switch on and for you to ask what you don’t understand, it is very hard to get that person who is in the radio because the line that we are using is only one. The students try to call but you end up not to get what you expect to be answer”.

Mary Nyayian, another senior four candidate at Mat Secondary school says they are lacking radio to follow the lessons on the Radio.

She urged organizations and the Ministry of General Education to provide them with radios amid coronavirus.

 “If you have radio and you know that the lesson will be starting at this time, it is very good because it can keep you learning, so you will not forget all the lessons and everything. If the schools will be reopened it will get you when you have the knowledge. It is very good to have radio and telephone. The organizations can support high schools students, I can firmly talk about the radios; they can provide radios and the phones.”

James Gattiek Lieth is a 35 year old father of 4, says the radio learning program was important during this time of Covid-19 for students because it can help them engage in their studies.

“Education program is important during this time of COVID-19 to the students because it is engaging them. They will not get involved in criminal acts. It is good for them just to focus on studies and also to attend lessons during listening session. The organizations that are working in education program here should provide the radios to the needed students who doesn’t have radios. Some of us as parents cannot afford to buy the radios, this one can be the work of the NGOs who are providing education materials to the students.”

Reat Kujien Bangoang is a teacher at United Primary school who says the radio education program was very important during this critical time of covid-19.

He appealed to the students to adapt the new system of learning posed by the coronavirus as essential mean for them to focus on their studies.

“Radio education program is very important at this critical time of COVID-19 because students are not able to access physical education, teachers are not allowed to go to classes because of the pandemic and students are all advises to adapt the new learning system. Students are actually engage in different activities especially negative one, since the closure of the schools, they are sitting idly and that force them also to do other activities which are negative to the community. If the government implement this program of engaging them through different ways of learning, it can be very important to the community and also to them”.

Meanwhile Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, the Minister of General Education and Instruction say education was a right for all children during this time of pandemic.

“Education is a right for all children. In this difficult and uncertain time, education becomes much more important, particularly for girls and children with disabilities, who are most hit by this pandemic. I therefore do urge all our children, especially my daughters to take this opportunity and attend lessons on radio,” she said.

Oh his part the UNICEF South Sudan Representative, Mohamed Ag Ayoya said the initiative will keep children engaged.

“While this initiative will keep children engaged, it is crucial to constantly keep working to prepare schools for an immediate safe reopening as soon as this is decided.”

“A balance must be found between the benefits of the school closures versus the harm done to children’s learning and therefore their future. The newest knowledge about the disease must be applied to these analyses.”

According to United Nation International Children Fund (UNICEF), with 2.2 million children out of school in South Sudan before COVID-19 and the literacy rate standing at 14.5 per cent for women and 35 per cent for men, the country can’t afford more children to miss out on basic education. Therefore, keeping children engaged in continued learning is essential. It is also important to prevent increased drop-out rates when schools are reopened, as we know that the longer children stay away from school the likelihood of them returning to school is reduced.

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