Uganda’s online learning is a white elephant for practical subjects and courses

E-learning has been adpoted in Uganda after Covid-19 pandemic caused schools' clouser. Courtesy photo.

Op-ed I By Stephen Charles Olet

Lira—22, August 2020: The outbreak of Covid-19 has brought a lot of changes both on the global and local scenes, some of which may forever be the new normal.

In Uganda, online learning was introduced to enable learners to study at the comfort of their homes since it was deemed very unsafe for learners to remain in schools. But this mode of learning is actually unfavorable for practical subjects and practical courses.

Students who are offering practical courses are not benefitting from online learning because such courses require students to do things hands-on since theory alone is not enough.

In medicine, there is a popular saying by William Osler, the 20th century physician which states; “He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.” This implies that studying the phenomena of disease without books is like sailing in a sea which is uncharted, whereas studying books without patients is equivalent to not going to the sea at all.

So our medical students who are studying online without touching patients are not going to the sea at all.

Talking about students doing vocational courses, I can’t believe that brick laying and concrete practice can be studied online just the same way welding and metal fabrication cannot be studied online.

These are courses that the students can do without the theory, but it’s impossible to do without knowing the practical bit. For example, when a builder goes to look for a job his theory will not earn him a job but how well he does the construction is what will attract for him more customers.

Basically, some courses cannot be studied online save for the poor network in most regions of this country coupled with the high rate of poverty where most scholars are not in position to possess the electronic gadgets used for online learning, and this reminds me of my years at campus, some students studied until they graduated without owning neither a smart phone nor a laptop.

Instead of building castles in the air that the country can sustain online learning, the government should come up with better scientifically sound approaches that will be beneficial to the entire students of this country.

The author is a concerned Ugandan


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