UWI Guild calls on gov’t to help facilitate zero-rated online platforms for tertiary students

The University of the West Indies Mona Guild is calling on the government to provide zero-rated learning platforms for tertiary institutions through a partnership with higher education institutions (HEIs) and internet service provider(s).

“In light of the recent announcement by the Ministry of Health regarding the increase in Covid-19 cases and the possibility of a subsequent extension of the crisis by 3-5 months, one can foresee delays in the resumption of face to face instruction at tertiary institutions for more than 14 days or, in the case of the UWI Mona, 30 days,” the University said in a statement.

“Consequently, there are emerging cries of concern by the student population as it is becoming more apparent that the success of the current semester could be grossly compromised. This concern will be maximized if students are unable to consistently access the virtual academic platforms of their respective HEIs.”

The UWI Mona Guild Council added that it wishes to remain optimistic about the Government of Jamaica’s ability to effectively control the spread of the virus and return the country to a state of normalcy, but noted that as a proactive student government, “it is imperative that we prepare for worst-case scenarios”.

It added: “With UWI Mona having approximately 20,000 students, plus the student population of the other HEIs, there is no guarantee of how these students will be able to access their schools’ online platforms when academic instruction goes fully virtual. This is especially concerning for students living in areas with little to no internet access who may be forced to compromise their health by commuting to public spaces such as libraries or internet cafes,” the statement continued.

“Therefore, there must be an equitable solution. We applaud the Government’s decision to make relevant Ministry/state websites zero-rated and believe that a similar partnership can be explored with HEIs to make their main online platforms zero-rated and easily accessible as well.”