Tackling free internet supply to public educational institutions must be laced into solutions to revamp the economy from the havoc of the global pandemic.
It is quite obvious now, that the human lifestyle globally has been altered by the novel coronavirus in many sectors of the economy including education. In the wake of the pandemic, academic institutions in the country were forced to abandon their traditional classrooms to resort to online teaching and learning modules; a phenomena which requires that every student have access to the internet to be able to participate in the scheduled classes.
However, digital inclusion and exclusion in Africa often highlights the lack of internet access as the main barrier to participation. In the same vein, it was noted that Africa has the highest internet data charges to the degree that a gigabyte of data can cost on average GH¢. 20.00 in Ghana. Progress in reducing the cost has not been rapid due to the existing national economic pressure exerted on the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Be as it may, most students in the rural areas are denied the opportunity to study using the internet since some do not have access to basic social amenities like electricity least to think about smartphones, television and internet access to enable them participate in the online classes going on in the cities and on television networks. The more disadvantaging side of such students is the fact that they will be writing the same national exams with their counterparts in the highly privileged cities and towns who have full access to electricity supply and internet service on daily count.
On the contrary, most business were affected by the violence of the pandemic rendering most informal sector and some formal sector workers jobless, a condition which makes it very difficult for parents to afford internet data for their wards to have effective lessons online.
Moving into the Post Covid -19 virtual world, government must put in place adequate measure to ensure that internet Wi-Fi is installed on campuses especially basic schools including Senior High Schools. Plans should be taken to collaborate with telecommunication companies to have internet data packages that are cost friendly to students through their institutions. These plans must not be considered separately but inclusive of any economic recovery plans of governments to rescue the national economy.
Consequently, when this is done, it will help ensure adherence to the social distancing protocols, which many believed has come to stay since teachers will spend long hours in physical contact with students as they can make learning materials available on the internet for the students. Virtual is the new reality and the earlier we consider these measures the better effective our educational system after the coronavirus.
Awutey Oxford Senyegbe
Student Journalist (GIJ).