Jimma University has been preparing itself for the reopening of on campus academic activities. Compared to other levels of education, there is more risk of COVID- 19 infection at the University since the students often come from different regions of the country with high possibility of contact history. In line with this fact, different taskforces were established to facilitate the preparation on teaching and learning across all campuses. On 02/10/ 2020, the eLearning and library services facilitation taskforce presented the comprehensive report on the status of the preparation, major challenges, and way forward for the executive, directors, deans and other participants.
After the presentation, reflections were made on the importance of the status assessment to make evidence-based decisions. The major issues raised by the participants were mainly on the human and facility resources utilization and intervention strategies in the face of the pandemic to ease the preparation. Converting the recommendations made by the taskforce to action plan to settle the problems in time was the bottom line of the participants’ reflection.
Eventually, the AVP, Dr. Adula Bekele and JU’s president Dr. Jemal Abafita made a concluding remark on the presentations and reflections from the participants. Dr. Adula appreciated the commendable efforts of the members of the taskforce to produce holistic report that can serve as a base line to make further preparation decisions. In addition, he reminded the participants that there have been concerted efforts to shift from the accustomed face to face to virtual academic activities even before the outbreak of the pandemic but aggressively undergoing a meaningful transformation since the lock down. He also acclaimed the streamlining of the decision-making process of the taskforce during the observation to maximize the responsiveness and in due course to claw our way back to holistic academic practices. Eventually, he remarked the irreplaceable role of colleges and institutes to oversee closely the ongoing preparation at computer labs and libraries.
Dr. Jemal Abafita on his part reiterated unequivocally the importance of the assessments made on the status of eLearning and library services for the reopening of the university. He gratefully acknowledged those who engaged in the process and labelled the task as an exemplary work. In his remark, he underlined the shift from business as usual to reliable system that can stand the uncertainties of the pandemic. He also indicated that the efforts made so far to shift and adapt to the new way of working in the digital era is promising. In addition, he reaffirmed to deploy effective technologies to optimize the endeavour of creating conducive teaching and learning atmosphere. The executives were given an urgent assignment to prepare an action plan and to act accordingly based on the recommendations. Finally, he called for collaborative effort and stressed on resilience and connectivity as the watchwords of the university to adjust to the unpredictable future.