By Nelson Manneh
Some parents and students have renewed their call for the Government to review its ongoing radio, television and online classes because students are not following it.
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) introduced distance learning classes using radio, television and online to conduct lessons for students. This came after the President made the proclamation declaring a state of emergency in which schools and universities were closed.
This distance learning initiative by the Ministry has been criticized by people from different section as they all call for the Ministry to do better.
Sulayman Dampha, a parent said the distance learning scheme is not effective and many students are not benefiting from it.
“My children used to tell me that they don’t usually understand anything from the classes. I usually force my children to sit and follow the lessons on TV, but they clearly told me that they don’t gain anything from it,” he said.
Mr. Dampha said there are countless numbers of children in the streets who are not following the classes instead they play football.
“In the area where I live, children don’t go to bed early because they have nowhere to go. They stay outside till late hours without engaging in anything meaningful,” he said.
The concerned parent said the way students are taught on television should be different from the way they are taught on radio because the two mediums are different.
“MoBSE is just wasting money because they cannot justify whether the students they are teaching understand the lessons because they don’t do evaluation and assessment of what they are doing,” he noted.
Mariama Faye, a final year student in Gambia High School said she wants to influence her father to allow her to repeat grade twelve after the pandemic.
“I cannot remember when last I open my books. Since when the online classes started I follow the lessons for one week but I did not understand anything, so I decided to stop following the classes and concentrate on my private life,” she said.
The final year student said the government should allow the grade 12 and 9 students to go back to school so that they can prepare themselves for their exams.
“The grade twelve and grade nine students are expected to sit for their exams, the exams may take place just after the pandemic or who knows the pandemic may stay forever and that will not stop education. So they should allow us to go to school and prepare ourselves,” she said.
Faye said she prefers repeating her grade twelve to sitting for the exams only to come out with poor result.
Lamin Camara, a grade nine student in Latrikunda Sabajie Upper Basic School said he doesn’t know the timetable they are using to teach them on the radios and television.
“When I sometimes tune our Television to QTV, I sometimes meet the classes on and I would listen but I don’t gain anything from it,” he said.
The young student said the government should allow the grade twelve and nine students to go back and learn since they may sit for their exams immediately after the pandemic.
“A school like Latrikunda Sabajie Upper Basic School, if only the grade nines are allowed to go back to school, we can be distributed within the classes and we still observed social-distancing and learn,” he said.
Camara said most of the times when he goes to their school, he finds his mates playing football without observing anything like social-distancing.
“The online classes are a waste of our resources. The government should open schools and take care of the borders as most of the registered cases are imported cases,” he noted.
An anonymous teacher, who wished not to be mentioned, said he it is not possible for a teacher to know whether his or her students understand a particular lesson without evaluating or assessing them.
“When I first heard about the distance learning, I know it will not work up to expectation,” he said.
This teacher said the only way the government can help the students is to allow the grade 12s and 9s to go back to school and not comprising the rule of social-distancing.
He said the Gambia educational system is by transition and if a class failed to move to another level, it will affect the whole system.
“I sometimes sit and listen to these online classes but I cannot understand how possible it will be for one to teach mathematics using radios or other mediums and expect students to understand,” he said.
He said subjects like English language, Literature and Government; one can use the radios stations because they are reading subjects but subjects like Mathematics, Chemistry, and other science subjects, it is impossible to do that.