The National Council for Higher education, a body mandated to regulate the provision and conduct of Higher Education in Uganda has issued new guidelines for e-learning to be followed by all institutions of higher learning across the country before being permitted to commence remote teaching during the ongoing lockdown.
NCHE takes cognizance of the readiness to reopen expressed by the majority of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and has developed guidelines for aiding HEIs to resume their teaching and learning activities remotely, since students and lecturers can be able to interact without necessarily coming into contact, during the lockdown.
Below are the Guidelines provided by NCHE for enabling HEIs to commence remote teaching and learning activities during the current lockdown.
- Evidence of the existence of COVID-9 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as issued by the Ministry of Health. This should clarify the arrangements on the ground in the institution so as to mitigate the safety concerns should a student, staff or NCHE official pay a visit. including the equipment (e.g. flash discs, data provision) or the available logistical arrangements of how materials will be delivered to learners.
- A list of the accredited academic programmes to be rolled out on the ODeL system, since the guidelines will support the rolling out of only accredited academic programmes.
- A list of staff qualified and ready to support the rolling out of the academic programmes through the ODeL system.
- Details of the students to be engaged. This should include evidence of having traced them and a survey on the students’ readiness for the ODeL teaching and learning as well as the learning support technologies they have e.g. smartphones, laptops and internet access.
- An undertaking by students indicating their willingness or inability to participate in the proposed arrangement. In case of students being unable to access emergency ODeL teaching and learning, the institution will indicate its proposed mitigation measures of redress for time and learning lost.
- The strategy for covering the learning content missed during the lockdown.
- Evidence of approvals by the institutional respective organs i.e. Senate and Council.
- Principles and guidelines of how the ODeL system would run, including equity and quality assurance. This is critical because the ODeL guidelines will aim to ensure that there is unhindered access to education through open, distance and e-learning, as afforded by new media and other technologies (phones, radios, TVs) and through blended means.
- Evidence of the mechanism of access and usage by the students and staff. The applicant should provide clarity on how they would address the issues of students who are not able to acquire electronic gadgets, data and network coverage.
- Assurance of mainstreaming of disability and gender in all COVID-19 response recovery actions.
- A description of the pre-training of both the staff and learners to be offered prior to embarking on the ODeL system.
- The assessment and evaluation mechanisms of learning, as a means of continuous assessment during the teaching and learning.
- Evidence of the following conditions if final examinations are to be administered on-line;
- Staff trained to deliver examinations on-line
- Security and cheating avoidance lockdown browser
- Face recognition software
- Any other relevant examination security features
- In the absence of (i) –(iv) above, final examinations should be done on campus when institutions re-open.
- The learning support mechanism in case learners require so.
- A student communication mechanism during the proposed schedule of ODeL provision.
- Evidence of the ODeL capability, including the recording and documentation mechanisms for post viewing.
- Demonstrate strategy of completion of the practicum, for programmes which require practical engagements such as medicine and engineering.
- Evidence of the HEIs internal quality assurance measures, including the human resources to support the same.
- The attendant budget to support the new schedule of teaching and learning.
- Demonstrated capacity to mitigate Cyber risks.
- Assurance that relevant laws and regulations such as Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019 will be complied with.
- An action plan indicating how teaching and learning as well as assessment of both practical and theoretical aspects of the programme will be implemented during the lockdown.
However, Hon. Janet Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports while addressing the nation recently, said that education institutions which can afford to study online should embrace it with the exception of conducting examinations.