Higher learning institutions say they are ready to carry on with studies, shifting from face-to-face learning to online, following the new measures to control the further spread of Covid-19. The new measures, which were announced on Tuesday and went into force on Thursday, July 1, include the closure of all schools in affected areas including the City of Kigali and some eight districts. The Ministry of Education announced yesterday that students in Higher Learning who reside on campus (hostels) will remain at their respective campuses and continue to study remotely, while students residing off-campus will stay at home and continue to study remotely as well. A lesson learned Some of the university officials who talked to The New Times said that they will bank on previous experience from which they said they have drawn enough lessons to offer flawless services online to their learners. “This is not the first time we are going to use online learning, even during the first experience we had started offering online lectures. Now we are ready to fully migrate online without any hindrance,” said Ezechiel Sekibibi, the Vice-Chancellor of Kigali Independent University (ULK). “We have been using blended learning ever since we resumed studies, wherefore this decision won’t affect us so much because students are used to studying online, and we are accredited by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) to give some courses online and others face-to-face.” Sekibibi said that ULK has a digital library which is accessible by the students wherever they would be, and it has equipped smart classrooms used by lecturers to deliver online lectures. He added that looking at the situation of the pandemic which has for the past one and half years remained unpredictable, they used the opportunity they had of teaching face-to-face and covered as much content as possible. Gustave Masereri Tombola, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kigali, said that the university has an online platform which is popular among the students because they used it when sending their assignments even when studying face-to-face. “They are going to continue learning online and there won’t be any gap, because we are accredited by MINEDUC to use blended mode, allowing us to teach some courses online and others face-to-face,” he added. As for Rwanda Polytechnic, which has different campuses in the districts under particular measures, officials said that students will be given different assignments to do remotely, as they will stay on campus even though there will be no face-to-face classes, according to Sylvie Mucyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Charge of Training in Rwanda Polytechnic. “We can’t allow them to move like these high school students, because for them they are going on long holidays. That is why after we consulted the Ministry of Health and MINEDUC, we decided that students stay where they are (on campus or at their homes) to avoid the risk of contaminating or spreading the virus,” she added. She said that since other campuses in other districts are continuing their routine mode of studying, there will be a catch-up plan for the students in the districts under particular measures, once the measures are eased. Ignatius Kabagambe, Head of Corporate Communication at the University of Rwanda, said that the university is also planning to pursue studies online where they are affected. “Whenever the University of Rwanda faces this disruption, it always pushes us towards boosting our online teaching arrangements. We’re going to continue uploading modules that were being taught physically, so that we can start teaching them online,” he added. Ready despite minor challenges: students Some students told The New Times that they are always expecting changes due to the unpredictability occasioned by Covid-19 outbreak. They said there won’t be any big disruption as they will be studying online, unless some challenges they always face when studying online. “We are used to the system, because it is not the first time for this to happen, we had lockdown before and we managed to study online, and we currently were using online platform by sending assignments and reading notes,” said Alice Niyigena, year one computer science student at ULK. She added that they sometimes face the challenge of the high cost of the internet, which hinders some from attending online classes. She wishes that students may be facilitated so that they can easily study.