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Why Are Parents Avoiding Remote Learning for Home Education?

In March 2020, when the governments of East Africa got wind of cases of COVID-19 showing up in their respective countries, they acted fast. They immediately applied the most effective measure then; the lockdown, which led to the closure of schools.

Children were sent back home without any thorough planning to further their studies while they stayed at home. Having not yet experienced the potency of the malignant infection, everyone was optimistic that it would end soon. Uganda’s initial lockdown was to last only a fortnight.

After the massive outbreak of the pandemic, the governments took measures that included extending lockdown periods. People began to realize the grimness of the situation and that, apart from other concerns, it was not clear when learners could go back to school. It was such a strange experience, so novel to the majority of the people in East Africa. We were unprepared for it.

At first, some schools prepared activity textbooks on various subjects for their students. Ugandan governments, for example, used newspapers to disseminate study modules. A report from UK Aid shows that the Tanzanian government developed a print-based pre-primary education (PPE) workbook to reach children with limited access to radio and television in Tanzania.

Governments put more effort into utilizing the mass communication media, that is, television stations and radio. Able schools transitioned to online operations so that their learners could continue with their studies. Later, other schools utilized software platforms like WhatsApp and Zoom. More learners can now access education, and governments have invested a lot of effort in remote learning. However, the transition from the regular education procedure that students were familiar with (face-to-face learning) to studying online has proved difficult.

Why Are Parents Avoiding Remote Learning For Home Education?

Unfavorable Study Conditions

The physical class system ensures a controlled environment with the sole purpose of keeping learners focused on their studies. One key element of this environment is the physical teacher. The teacher monitors and ensures that all learners keep their attention on the lesson. Image charts (on classroom walls) and writing boards command focus on study.

However, most home environments are not conducive to learning. Most people share a single room in a home, which is usually part of a larger, sprawling building with many other residents. There is never a quiet enough moment for them to focus or pay attention.

Disconnect between teacher and student

Students need a sense of connection to their teacher for them to interact better with them. At a time when they are already frustrated with the repetitive cycle of lockdowns, this is very important for them. Unfortunately, with remote learning, they are meeting new (equally frustrated) teachers. Studying feels like a chore to them. They sit and seem to listen to the lessons and sometimes even engage in the minimal activities an online session can allow, but their test results worsen by the day.

 Studying in isolation

Learning requires interaction with other people; we gain more knowledge by mingling in a crowd than in isolation. Group learning motivates and inspires healthy competition. I think a healthy learning environment is about the variety of people in it. Working with people from different professional and personal backgrounds, ages, cultures, and countries, who have different skills, ideas, and opinions makes for a really rich mix of both learning from others and also sharing your knowledge, ” Max Larcombe. This kind of interaction is impossible with remote learning.

Lack of supervision

Younger children (3–10 years old) need constant supervision and attention during their learning, which was not afforded to them during this lockdown. The parents were also working. The older students have lost their morale. You find a household with four children has only one television and one radio. You find that only two of the children can study. Also, people learn more while watching than listening.

When the lockdown hit my country, my niece’s school offered to teach online lessons using the Zoom app. One parent in the school’s WhatsApp group communicated that if the school wanted to teach his children, they should send teachers to his home. I thought him reckless to even suggest such a thing when the disease was at its peak, killing people all around us. But I understood him later when my niece and my sister started attending those online lessons. It is like an alternative play-time for them. They spend the time exploring the app itself, the gadgets (laptop and smartphone) they use for studying and chatting with their fellows.

Many parents in the group have taken their children off the online lesson program and have hired teachers to come to their homes and physically teach their children.

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