COVID-19: Government To Grant Free Distance Education Technology For Universities

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, has declared Government plans to acquire distance education technology and the technical ability and capacity for all Ghanaian universities for free.

He stated that although the COVID-19 outbreak was bad news, the provision of the facility should be done faster.

Dr Opoku Prempeh made this announcement on Tuesday when he took his turn at the Meet-the-Press Series in Accra.

He stressed that before the outbreak of COVID-19, and because of the number of free senior high school students coming from the secondary system, the Government, through the National Council for Tertiary Education, had engaged with Open University, United Kingdom (UK).

He commented that their discussion with Open University UK had gone very well and that they had already made a portal available for students through the Ghanaian universities.

He pointed out, “So if you go to the University of Ghana, the University of Ghana has a range of courses that they want to use Open University resources that will be available to you.”

Dr Opoku Prempeh emphasized that this potential would increase the population of the University’s students by over 30,000 and added that “the more we get students to get on it, the lesser we will have to pay”.

In continuation, he said, “That technology is available and ready to be deployed and it is one of the arsenals we have in our preparedness for the senior high school students, who are about to enter the university.”

He commented that the collaboration with the Open University UK would make it possible for Ghana to locally host Open University Ghana here to guide and guard all its distance learning education after four years.

Dr Opoku Prempeh said the only challenge with distance learning education all over the world was quality and assurance.

He stated that Open University UK had the resources to police that very well and the Government wanted all its universities to have it for free.

He commented almost all the traditional universities had functional learning systems which might require upscale in order to make the service available to students.

He added, “Almost all the five universities, which are affiliating the 46 colleges of education, have learning management systems they are deploying to affect all the colleges of education.”

Some of the universities with learning management systems include University of Ghana; University of Professional Studies, Accra; University of Health and Allied Sciences; University of Cape Coast; Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration; University of Mines and Technology; University of Education, Winneba; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; the University of Energy and Natural Resources and the University for Development Studies.

Dr Opoku Prempeh pointed out that all those universities had already deplored their online systems.

He stressed that the Education Ministry had written to the Ministry of Finance for funding to roll out the online learning programme.

He emphasized that the Education Ministry with the assistance from the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Information would deploy the online programmes and the traditional social media programmes to the whole country.

He stressed, “Moving from medium to long term, we have a national digital literacy project that is going to allow a company to come into the country under One District, One Factory (1D1F) and establish a manufacturing base of smart tablets and mobile telephones and laptops…”

He noted that this would ensure that every student and every teacher in the nation’s educational system got access to ICT facility both as a subject course and as a device to ensure quality teaching and learning outcome.

He revealed that the Government was going to establish a knowledge bank of educational resources so that everyone in Ghana who wanted to learn would have access to those resources for free.

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