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General News of Thursday, 23 April 2020


Gov’t has no plan to support tertiary students with data for learning – Minister

Gifty Twum Ampofo, Deputy Minister of Education Gifty Twum Ampofo, Deputy Minister of Education

A Deputy Minister for Education, Gifty Twum Ampofo, has disclosed that the Akufo-Addo government has “no plans to solve data issues” for tertiary students in the country.

Ghana’s higher educational institutions began exploring online learning platforms for students ever since President Akufo-Addo ordered the indefinite closure of all schools to curb the spread of the new Coronavirus.

But that has not been without challenges– ranging from unstable internet connectivity to students inability to afford data packages at all times for their online learning.

Some student groups who have bemoaned the challenges have appealed to the Government to assist them through anyway possible since their institutions have decided not to halt the online learning.

But Madam Twum Ampofo says the Government is not ready to bear that cost.

“For now we don’t have any plan to solve data issues for university students,” she told Dwaboase host Kwame Minkah on Power FM Wednesday.

The legislator also said the students were exaggerating their challenges, stressing that available data indicate the students have the capacity to join class sessions via their smart phones.

“It is only 2% of university students use yam phones [phones that can’t access the internet] so they can join the online learning,” she added.

When quizzed that students who reside in villages and small towns which have no access to mobile phone network may have genuine case with their concerns, the minister said “they can join to learn if they want.”

“When Chelsea [FC] and Liverpool [FC] have a football match, they know how to get network to watch those matches…when there is a will, there is a way,” she added “Government through NITA are working to improve connectivity in those areas”.

But a Deputy National Youth Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Edem Agbaana, who spoke on the same show criticised the Government over what he describes as it’s reluctance to support tertiary students to undertake their online studies.

The former Student Representative Council (SRC) president for the University of Ghana (UG) described the failure on the part of the Akufo-Addo Government to support the students, as unfortunate, adding that “the Government talks plenty but delivers nothing.”

The youth activist noted that Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta had made a statement in Parliament about the Government’s support for students to take part in the e-learning process and wondered why that has not been implemented.

“Most of the students are jobless and may find it difficult to buy data…the Government has woefully failed to deliver on its own promise,” Agbana jabbed in Akan.

To him, the Government could engage the telecommunication companies to introduce new packages for students that can be accessible by all students as studies continue till schools reopen.