Jimma University has been working on an alternative way to perform its core activities while engaging actively in the prevention and containing of the spread of the virus from the time the pandemic was nationally announced. The University held several discussions with its academic and administrative staff on the issues pertaining to the fight against COVID-19 and running its core academic, research and community service activities amidst the pandemic.
On April 21, 2020 the office of Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University held virtual meeting with academic council members to discuss the progress on the resumption of education via technology. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Adula Bekele (V/P for Academic Affairs), and was attended by all College/Institute/Faculty Deans, Academic Program Directors and Coordinators at the presence of JU’s president Dr. Jemal Abafita. The participants discussed the core issues of: how to continue the core activities of the University amidst the effort to fight against the pandemic as per the direction from Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MOSHE), assessing the opportunities and challenges in resuming the formal teaching and learning process in the context of the University, and drawing action points on further enhancing the initiatives on the academic, research and community service activities in place.
Core action points to be undertaken to resume the core activities of the University including the recommencement of the interrupted teaching and learning process were outlined in the meeting. Accordingly, as per the direction from the Ministry, the University has decided to finalize preparation and uploading of materials for second semester courses in multiple formats on Jimma University learning management system, and other appropriate social media platforms in addition to Ministry’s official website dedicated for the same purpose to engage undergraduate students on their learning from where they are. In connection with this, it was decided that the University will arrange a crash program on the courses for Undergraduate program students by the time the face-to-face program commences. What is more, the University’s College of Natural Science is currently actively working on the task of preparing online learning materials for Natural Science fields given to it from MOSHE.
It was also decided that the formal teaching-and-learning program for postgraduate programs will commence through the virtual learning platform as of next week, and the necessary preparations being undertaken are to finalize by the end of this week. The University has recently conducted an online survey pertaining to postgraduate class students’ needs and preferences on the virtual learning platforms, and the result of the survey is used as an input for the preparation. Beyond delivering courses, the online platforms will also to be used for supervising and mentoring postgraduate class students and conducting Thesis defense activities.
Multiple channels that fit the purpose including JU’s e-learning platform are to be used for conducting the teaching and learning process for both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. The participants also discussed the challenges pertaining to the use of online platform and decided to converse with the bodies in charge including MOSHE. In the meantime, the university units and staff are suggested to finalize all the preparations pertaining to virtual communication with students among themselves.
The Research and Community Service core activities of the University as has already begun is suggested to give priority to the efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and support the various sectors to be affected due to the challenge.
In his concluding remark, JU’s president Dr. Jemal Abafita has reiterated that the use of technology is crucial in bringing the whole University community back to business. He added that coalescing myriad of innovative approaches supported with resolute actions helps the University to sensibly engage in the tripartite mandates of teaching-learning, research and community services.