TV channel reaches students without internet access

Morocco’s Broadcasting and Television National Company (SNRT) is partnering with the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research to offer tele-education for students without access to the internet as universities shut down campuses to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Arryadia television channel (a popular sports channel) started broadcasting university lectures on 25 March, according to the channel’s website.

“Re-orienting the programmes of the traditional information media including radio and television is a trump card to ensure equity in educational delivery during these perilous times,” Ransford Bekoe, director of programmes at the Association of African Universities television (AAU TV), based in Ghana, told University World News.

He said African governments should urgently roll out programmes on national radio and television to meet the needs of all categories of learners “while the world holds on to the hope of a remedy in the shortest possible time”.

According to Añulika Agina, a postdoctoral research fellow in a project known as ‘African Screen Worlds: Decolonising film and screen studies’ at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London told University World News the use of TV and radio to deliver university programmes would be a good initiative to promote critical discourse, but said staying connected to a television in many African countries such as Nigeria was a “tall order” because of a lack of electricity.

“In Nigeria, as in many other African countries, electricity is in short supply, which makes staying connected to TV a tall order,” Agina said.

Magdi Tawfik Abdelhamid, a professor at Cairo's National Research Centre, agreed, saying poor African students in remote areas where there is no access to television or the internet should be offered catch-up classes at the end of lockdowns.

However, he said, where possible African media corporations should follow Morocco's SNRT initiative and do what they can to bridge educational gaps during the pandemic by helping African universities set up their own TV channels.

Agina said that where it was possible African media corporations could help to create educational TV platforms for African universities, but “the content and delivery must lie with the university as the generators and custodians of knowledge”.

He said South African-based DStv-MultiChoice had succeeded in providing continent-wide entertainment on a lasting operational structure. “So they could provide support.”

While the Nigerian media were generally poorly funded, he said private providers might fare better in terms of providing support through limited educational programming.

Agina said it would be better for universities to appeal for funding from private corporations and wealthy individuals.

“That sort of human solidarity is what we now need,” Agina said.

According to the 2019 Africa Wealth Report prepared by AfrAsia Bank in Mauritius, Africa has approximately 140,000 high net worth individuals with combined wealth holdings of approximately US$920 billion.