Editorial

Our Students Need Stronger Internet Connectivity, Devices For All

A key lesson for Fiji from this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the need to invest in the right internet infrastructure. Without it, the learning gap only wid­ens between those who can, versus those who can’t access the internet.
20 Aug 2021 17:32
Our Students Need Stronger Internet Connectivity, Devices For All

Yesterday marked four months since schools and tertiary institutions were shut down as a result of the second wave of COVID-19.

The disruption of teaching and learning for stu­dents is unimaginable – a world-wide phenomenon parents and relevant stakeholders continue to face.

While no impact assessment has been conducted to gauge its impact, the fact remains that our children are affected in a big way.

While the Ministry of Education, schools and rel­evant stakeholders are doing the best they can to provide an engaging digital platform for students, the fact remains that not all students are connected digitally.

Some students do not have access to a smartphone. Others do not have the luxury of constant data top-up. And the reality on the ground is that internet con­nectivity is not accessible throughout the country.

Take for instance the interior of Naitasiri.

Aporosa Bole, a schoolteacher at Nabukaluka District School posted pictures of tertiary students who had to climb a hill to get internet access.

That’s the only hill in the area where they can get connected to both mobile and internet providers – Vodafone and Digicel.

One of the students was even perched on a tree. This is their reality. Despite the poor connectivity, the de­sire to learn and connect remains.

Mr Bole, like numerous teachers who serve in rural Fiji, have had to walk a fair bit to reach his students to distribute their worksheets. They are doing their part to reach those who are not connected digitally.

The 6 kilometres walk includes crossing the Waid­ina River.

The walk also allowed Mr Bole to experience first­hand the journey to school by his students. The most difficult part was crossing the river.

He was amazed at the perseverance and dedication displayed by his students during the face-to-face school days.

A key lesson for Fiji from this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the need to invest in the right internet infrastructure. Without it, the learning gap only wid­ens between those who can, versus those who can’t access the internet.

With schools closed, perhaps the Ministry of Educa­tion should consider shifting the free bus fare initia­tive to a ‘data initiative’ for those who can’t afford to buy data.

While Government provides a monthly data top-up of $20 to all university and Year 13 students, those in the other grades should also be included.

Afterall, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it to­day.” – Malcolm X

 



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Tower Insurance
FNPF
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper