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When COVID-19 exposes University of Eswatini (UNESWA)’s resistance to technology

Monday, 11th May, 2020

Universities all over the world are changing the way they train students; they use virtual meeting for lectures including conducting online lessons but our own, the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) seems to be staggering in embracing technology. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Lectures should be conducting online lessons, but then, the institution of higher learning is still using traditional ways where Lecturers are expected to carry a chalk and duster to class to deliver lessons. Perhaps, let me emphasize that the world is changing, and the use of technology cannot be resisted anymore, hence authorities of UNESWA should, as a matter of urgency, transform the institution in the interest of the students.  

UNESWA lacks the foresight to innovate and upgrade the way things are done. The institution still uses traditional way of lecturing students, where a lecturer is expected to carry a chalk and a duster to the class. Imagine a whole professor having to dictate notes to students in a class, it is pathetic.

The University was caught off guard by the spread of the corona virus and the announcement that Universities and schools should close. They released the students without the “what if question in mind”. Students might lose the whole semester if not two because the university’s ill preparedness of the situation. 

Even though there is Moodle, which is an online portal, Lecturers are not encouraged to frequently use it to post notes and deliver lessons. Moodle was a good initiative because it allows lecturers to post notes and videos for students. Students can even post questions for their lecturers and there is a function where they can meet as students and discuss. Moreover, students can take tests on Moodle, the portal is underutilized, as to why still remains a million-dollar question so to speak. Students cannot access online materials from the library when they are outside the university which is one of the biggest weakness the university has. Post graduate students are deprived the opportunity to research on their thesis because they cannot access online research papers which are available at the library. The only way the university would be visible is by training students who will write and publish research papers but since papers are not easily accessible, visibility can never be realized.

It is a shame to be Liswati in all aspects because nothing seems to be ok, sometimes I am convinced that we are a cursed nation. Technologically the university is expected to be way forward than the other universities and colleges because of its establishment and the support it gets from government but it is the other way round. How does the King feel to be the Chancellor of a stagnant university? Some are dilapidated and one would be ashamed to show visitors it is a university. It’s a place which looks like a home deserted 50 years ago. A situational analysis needs to be done to show the authorities how backward we are in all aspects.  How can the university be recognized if nothing is done to improve its operations? An institution that is watching things happen.

I now believe that the university is deliberately run down, as for what, I don’t know. Students have to travel to either the Mbabane or Kwaluseni or Luyengo Campus to register when in some universities it is done at the comfort of your home.  I am not apologetic to say, I despise everything that is connected to Royalty because everything connected to them is doomed. Every economy is preparing itself for Artificial Intelligence (IA) but Eswatini is day dreaming. The lecturers do ask students test and exam questions about (IA) but nothing is done to move towards it, this is the hardship the students are facing having to answer questions about something they never experienced, it remains a theory to them.

The Vice chancellor, Prof. Justice M. Tfwala made a statement on Wednesday and I strongly believe that I am not the only one who is still trying to comprehend what he was trying to say. I read the whole 2-page document looking for the contingency plans the university is trying to put in place to counter the situation. They have no ideas. This situation deserves a case study. At this point in time I can convincingly say that the university does not have a direction and it is really a cause for concern. Students must brace themselves to lose a year if something is not done immediately. Completing students will have to defer their graduation to the following year. The loss, self-sponsored students would suffer is unimaginable. Government is also expected to lose millions because of the university failure to improve technologically. Students are supposed to be taking lectures and test online, the only thing that would be missing is to sit for their exams, which could be done when the situation normalizes, but it is not the case.

Lecturers will be paid for nothing and one wonder where does the money come from. The university will soon be declared bankrupt and tax payers money will be used for the institution relieve. 

When COVID-19 exposes University of Eswatini (UNESWA)’s resistance to technology
University of Eswatini