Kampala, Uganda | URN | Eight student leaders of Kyambogo University have been arrested for staging a protest against the institution’s decision to suspend physical learning and ordering for online learning following a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The arrested include Guild President John Mbaziira and his Vice Claire Namara. Others are; Eriasa Kato, Bright Kasozi, Calvin Waiswa, Geoffrey Ssali, Alphonso Nkurunziza, and Ivan Malingumu.
During the protest, the students blocked all the roads leading to the university with bonfires and heaps of cabbage, saying they wanted the university management to stop the implementation of the e-learning system since most of them are not prepared for it.
Kyambogo University recently registered eight COVID-19 positive cases. Six of the cases were detected from students while two are administrative staff. Reuben Twinomujuni, the university senior public relations officer, says that following the outbreak of COVID-19 at the university, management decided to cancel physical learning and resort to online teaching.
However, the decision was resisted by a section of students and the Guild leadership who claim that many of their colleagues don’t have laptops and smartphones while others cannot afford internet data.
Edwin Tumusiime, the personal assistant to the Guild President, says the student leadership has on several times written to management asking them to either reconsider the decision or engage students on how they could smoothly migrate to online lectures in vain.
But, Twinomujuni says that even without the Covid-19 cases, the university had already designed a road map that was sent to all students before reopening indicating that at a given point, lectures would be held online in the blended system.
He adds that before the program was rolled out, the university did a survey among the students to find their willingness or inability to participate in the proposed arrangement and most of the learners accepted that they have the required gadgets for online learning.
“70 per cent of the learners said they had laptops and smartphones and they could access the tool. To ensure that learners are catered for, the university installed wireless internet hotspots all over the university campus and at different colleges for learners who cannot afford data,” Twinomujuni said adding that an option of using university computes in different ICT laboratories was granted to those who don’t own laptops or smartphones.
Mark Kiguli, a student pursuing a bachelors of arts degree in education, says that the said wireless internet hotspots are not working and at times are completely off. He says that learning cannot take place if they are not certain of attending classes.
Kampala Metropolitan police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire says that the arrested students have been charged with inciting violence and are currently detained at Jinja Road police station pending investigations.