Students from the University of Liberia (UL) and the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) staged a protest Monday, 17 August on the route between the University of Liberia and the Capitol, expressing opposition to eLearning and demanding the reopening of their universities to return to traditional style of learning.
Riot police responded to the scene to contain the situation and to ensure free flow of traffic which had been hindered prior to the authorities’ intervention. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus which compelled all learning institutions to shut down, authorities at various universities have chosen the option of conducting online learning so as not to keep their students sitting home for an unspecified time.
However the Ministry of Education permits senior high school students, particularly those due to sit the national exam, to return to classes.
But the protesting university students believe they should also be allowed to return to classes in as much the same way high school students have been permitted.
Capitol Hill came to a standstill when the students stormed the route between UL and the Capitol, compelling police to direct vehicles to use the route through Jallah Town.
Students wearing red barrett and militant khaki uniforms marched through the street demanding the government here through the Ministry of Education and authorities at the University of Liberia to immediately reopen regular classes on various campuses.
The free flow of traffic resumed when the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Col. Patrick Sudue intervened along with authorities at the university, and invited the head of the student group for an indoor meeting. The students also want the university to put an end to the eLearning program or else there will be no rest up Capitol Hill.
Darius S. Toweh, a student of UL and AMEU who also chairs the Universities Students Association (LUSA) says it is unbelievable that the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education will open high schools, clubs, and gambling centers, among others, but refuses to reopen universities with in the country.
He says this is an attack on university students.
Student Toweh points out that it is laughable on the part of the government to send under – aged children back to school when in fact the country is still producing high numbers of coronavirus cases and expect them to conduct themselves better than the men and women enrolled at the university.
“Let me tell you, the whole eLearning program is a serious bluff on the part of the university authorities. They are forcing the program just to justify donors’ funding,” he alleges.
“But let be real here, Liberia is among countries with a high data rate, poor internet system, lectures themselves don’t have much computer knowledge then the university took just a month to introduce eLearning. Seriously it is laughable,” Toweh claims.
He continues that the students that are enrolled for eLearning semester are now complaining that it is just a waste of their hard – earned money, narrating that some teachers are now asking students to send data in order for their notes to be posted online and at times lecturers do not even post notes.
The LUSA chairman explains that some lectures have informed students that the university authorities are forcing them to buy Chinese laptops and smartphones at a high cost, adding that they are calling on the president of the university to desist from this so as to avoid meeting students’ resistance.
By Ben P. Wesee