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Why Masinde Muliro University Students Are Against Online Exams

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Plans by Kakamega-based Masinde Muliro University to administer online exams starting this month ground to a halt on Monday August 10 after its students complained that they could end up being disadvantaged due to poor internet network in their home areas.

This comes after the university’s Senate resolved that online exams for undergraduate students will be held from August 24 to September 4, 2020.

The university has set Friday August 14 as the deadline for exam registration.

Students in front of the Masinde Muliro University Library. Source: The Star

To this end, candidates have been asked to participate in an ongoing training rolled out by the Institute of ODeL on online tests.

However, several students voiced their discomfort with this plan.

Learners who spoke to the Daily Nation on Monday raised concern over several logistical issues including poor network coverage and outstanding fee balances. 

They also revealed they are facing financial challenges raising money to buy smartphones, tablets and laptops that would help them access exams with ease. 

“We are literally struggling to make ends meet and some of us have not completed paying our school fees due to the economic hardship our parents are going through. We are going to be disadvantaged by the senate decision to proceed with exams,” narrated a student from the faculty of Education.

A student taking an online exam. Source: Twitter

An internal memo from Prof Thomas Sakwa, the acting Registrar Academic Affairs, had indicated that all final year students (Degree, Diploma, and Certificate) would be expected to sit for exams.

Candidates who have cleared fees have been asked to apply for the tests and provide information, which includes their names, registration number, programme, courses and mobile number.

While responding to learners’ concerns, however, Prof Sakwa says the university has provided Safaricom and Telkom SIM cards as well as internet bundles to 16,000 students to help them prepare.

“We are aware there will be challenges for those living in regions which have poor network coverage but we are encouraging all out students to embrace technology to register for the exams,” he disclosed.

He said the decision by senate was due to uncertainty and confusion brought on by COVID-19 that has disrupted learning across the country. 

In June, the university administered exams for PhD and Masters students.  

“We had 71 PhD students sitting for exams and 216 for the Masters programme. We are aware there could be challenges with the system but we are doing everything possible to support all our students,” said Prof Sakwa.

He added that those who fail to register for exams will be given special consideration by the university to take them at a later date. 

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