Catastrophic effects of Corona pandemic that has almost crippled every sphere of life world over also put the fate of AMU’s 2019-20 academic calendar in limbo. Its undergraduate students confined to homes will have to wait for graduation this year while post-graduate students tutored online will be graduated by this September end, informed Academic Affairs Vice President, Dr Yechale Kebede.

Speaking on 2019-20 academic calendar, Dr Yechale, said, following Corona pandemic right from the beginning Ethiopian government has ordered us to confine all students to their dormitories and tutor them via e-learning portals i.e. telegram, online, email and provide them with printed materials and wait till the vicious impact of Coronavirus subside, but it didn’t.

Therefore, as per government’s instruction, we had sent UG students to their homes and then Ministry of Science and Higher Education asked us to carry on with online teaching-learning process. At this moment, MoSHE has ordered 1st Generation Universities to design different online courses wherein AMU was asked to design courses on water recourses engineering which was forthwith done and submitted to the ministry.

Similarly, Addis Ababa University has developed Solid Engineering courses, Mekelle University Business & Economics, Dilla University Social Sciences, Jimma University Natural Sciences, etc. So along with soft copies of designed courses many digital materials are uploaded on Ministry’s online repository called Natural Academic Digital Library of Ethiopia (NADLE) that’s accessible for staff and students alike.

He further adds that there was no interruption in Graduate courses across Ethiopia; apart from Ministry, AMU also trained staff including expatriate staff through virtual portal like Zoom. Simultaneously, all colleges and departments were giving courses to students via media i.e. telegrams and virtual channels.

To make things better, AMU has developed user manuals on e-learning courses preparation for staff and students as how to retrieve files, download materials and communicate with each other. At the same time, we meticulously monitored the progress and analyzed the uploaded data and have sent information to all concerned departments. In this regard, twice in a month, we give feedback to the Ministry and are trying to narrow existing gaps. And in particular, Post-Graduate programs are given more emphasis.

As per MoSHE’s standing instructions, UG students will not be allowed to write exam for it’s not feasible. When situation gets normal, upon their return, crash courses will be arranged for them; those residing in remote areas may or may not have access to internet. PG students who reside in urban areas can avail online learning. The purpose of uploading soft copies of teaching materials is to keep UG students involved in learning so that they can continue to refer and refresh their courses, he stressed.  

Stating the progress of PG courses, he said, registration of all PG students was carried out from 19th to 22nd February, 2020, and 2nd semester classes begun wherein 22nd June, 2020, will be the last date for submission of PhD, MA and MSc thesis and by 1st August, 2020, 2nd Semester classes will end.

PG students’ papers were reviewed and comments forwarded to them; defense week for Master courses will begin from 24th July to 6th August, 2020, followed by 2nd semester exam; 21st August, 2020, is the last date for submission of grades and final results will be notified via online because there won’t be physical graduation ceremony at this juncture.

Meanwhile, AMU is tasked with the responsibility of revising existing water technology curriculum for UG students, so it can help them to gain jobs in the market, hence what are the crucial needs of market will be incorporated in the courses that might get finalized by month end, he said.

On positive outcome of COVID-19, he said, e-learning module was here 5 years ago, but few were using it. However, following this pandemic almost all staff members are applying it and hereafter, AMU will opt blended teaching as both online and face-to-face mode of teaching will be integrated and talk-and-chalk will be thing of past. In future e-learning will get strengthened, soon fully online courses will be launched and continuing, distance and evening education program supported by e-learning will gain primacy.  

From future point of view, we are working on post-COVID-19 plans so that when situation gets normal, we must be able to handle and manage issues like unhindered classes for students, accommodation, etc., he summed up.
(Corporate Communication Directorate)