Students of UGMS protest UG’s online classes

Students of the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) are protesting the university’s decision to move classes online due to the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease.

According to the President of the UGMS, Christian Armah, the decision is not favourable for medical and dental students who are in Level 400, 500 and 600 because most of their studies are practical and done with patients in the ward.

According to Mr Armah, the university has so far failed to provide a viable and workable option on how the proposed online platform which is expected to start on Monday 30th March 2020, can inure to their benefit.

In a letter to the University of Ghana management, the President of UGMS said this “enterprise is sure to benefit students of the first, second and third-year who are currently undertaking their basic science program at the University of Ghana Medical school because their program focuses mainly on the theoretical aspect of the medical training with less emphasis on clinical work.

“However for clinical year students where a majority of the course work is based on interaction with patients and clinical examination, there are a few points from this notice that raise questions for those in the clinical years at the University of Ghana Medical School and University of Ghana Dental School.”

The medical students are therefore imploring the University management to take into account the clinical nature of their course in the preparation of the E-learning program.

The medical and dental students are also requesting detailed information on how the E-learning program pertains to them as well as the structures that will be put in place to tackle their challenges raised.

Below are the details of the concerns of the University of Ghana Medical Students

RE: ROLL OUT OF ONLINE TEACHING AND LEARNING

I am writing to respond to the notice that was sent out to students of the University of Ghana on 23rd March 2020 about the online teaching and learning program the University intends to implement.

The initiative to make learning opportunities available to students via E-learning while they are unable to access their leaning facility during this outbreak of the novel COVID-19 virus shows the proactiveness and leadership of the University’s management in its quest to provide education to the student body.  This enterprise is sure to benefit students of the first, second and third-year who are currently undertaking their basic science program at the University of Ghana Medical school because their program focuses mainly on the theoretical aspect of the medical training with less emphasis on clinical work.

However, for clinical year students where a majority of the course work is based on interaction with patients and clinical examination, there are a few points from this notice that raise questions for those in the clinical years at the University of Ghana Medical School and University of Ghana Dental School.

1. The first, second and third clinical year classes of the University of Ghana Medical School and University of Ghana Dental school learn mainly via the clinical and practical cases that are seen on the wards while working with patients under the supervision of our esteemed lecturers and specialist consultants. It is through these interactions with patients and hands-on practice that we are able to acquire the skills that qualify us as doctors.

It is quite obvious that in these times of the virus, it is near impossible to complete this portion of the course while practising social distancing. We the students question how the University intends to simulate the clinical interaction, hands-on clinical examination of patients and direction from our lectures on the E-learning platform that is necessary for the completion of our course. Such concerns cause us to question how effective the e-learning initiative will be for medical and dental students in the clinical years. We are this letter seeking a detailed plan on how clinical students can access this vital component of this course.

2. On the issue of providing free access to the Sakai LMS platform, we humbly wish to point out that due to the dispersion of students to their various homes in all regions of the country and some outside the country, it is highly unlikely that all students will be guaranteed of access to good internet service if any at all. It with the utmost respect that we question how you intend to ensure that all students have access to good internet connection in order to fully participate in the E-learning program.

3. While the students of the UGMSA applaud the inclusion of the mobile internet company, Vodafone, to supply SIM cards free of charge to students to decrease the cost of using the internet platform, we question whether the university has considered how these SIM cards will be distributed to students as they are currently spread out all over the country and even those who do not reside in Ghana. Will all students benefit equally from this program irrespective of their location?

4. Lastly, we wish to enquire from the university’s management if the timetable for the medical and dental clinical year students has been taken into consideration in the preparation of the E-learning course.

Per the time table for the second semester of the academic year, the first clinical students vacate in June, the second clinical students vacate in July whilst the third clinical students complete in September of this year. We humbly implore the University to factor in our time table in preparation of the course as this time table differs from the main University’s campus time table.

In conclusion, we implore the University management to take into account the clinical nature of our course in the preparation of the E-learning program. We, as medical and dental students, request detailed information on how the E-learning program pertains to us as well as the structures that will be put in place to tackle the challenges raised above.

Yours Faithfully

Christian Armah

(UGMSA President)

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