It is another sigh after a long challenging year in 2021 with COVID-19 impacts that affected more or less all aspects of our Distance Mode Operations. With our incapacity to engage in technology, learning and support quality fell well below satisfactory. This year, 2022, the challenge would be more difficult with COVID now, in the country. Nevertheless, these challenges have given us the opportunity to seek our innovativeness and creativity to help find solutions as we live and proceed with COVID into the future. However, the fact that our regional countries and the general global communities are embracing the reality that COVID is here to stay, we too must find ways to live with it and still minimize the negative impacts it causes.
The fact is, without education and educating ourselves, this country will not survive. But as human beings, we were created to solve problems and champion them because the power was given to us. And the fact that COVID dies out in the human system after 7 to 21 days, means COVID can be eradicated. But it does not require us to hide away because then, we are going to create other problems for ourselves.
Therefore, in 2022, the Centre for Distance and Flexible Learning (CDFL) will start to use technologies that are available and appropriate in our context, to bring learners together in a virtual environment for the teaching and learning process. While we do this, we will work on other delivery options to respond to the learning needs of those that cannot access our virtual classrooms for issues beyond their capacity. The virtual teaching and learning process will happen between tutors/lecturers and learners and between learners and learners.
The University is committed to seeing those distance learners are not deprived of their rights to learn, therefore, last year the University Tender Board approved the installation of dishes in all our Study Centres in the provinces. However, these technologies might raise some concerns in certain communities in the country as interactions and dialogues by learners with their tutors/lecturers and between themselves will occur using mobile phones. This asks for understanding and common sense among married learners. However, the Centre wants to warn learners not to miss use these changes as they will affect their own learning.
Married couples need to be aware that our learners would frequently have their study group engaged through zoom and other applications in real-time, and sometimes in the evenings. The Distance and Flexible Learning will trial the plan this year and we hope stakeholders, parents and students support this change. The study groups would comprise around 5 students. DFL would not engage a study group of only two (2) students. This will really help our efforts in minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
We are also happy to announce that the Solomon Islands National University DFL will start offering a Diploma in Primary Teaching in 2022 Trimester 1 in fully online mode. Only those who will opt to do science units as their electives will have a face-to-face practical session under strict COVID protocols. Graduating with the Diploma will also enable you to teach up to Form 3 in our Community High Schools, which is a good pathway for those who are planning to pursue secondary teaching.
To remind our parents and school leavers, the University Preparatory Certificate Programs are helping so many of those that have been pushed out or discontinued from the conventional system. Hence, we need to continue supporting our children as the future of this country very much rests on their shoulders. As the proverb states, “We do not inherit our inheritance from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. It is important to understand that the predestined life circle of mankind is “Birth – Growing – Death”. Our parents are now between the second and third and we need to prepare our children for the two intervals so that they too can prepare theirs.
One big change in our support this year is the increase in internet networks anticipated to happen in the first quarter of 2022. This will definitely improve our communication and interaction with our students.
We are hopeful that the Faculties will increase their offering through the distance mode to provide the access our people do not have due to heterogeneous and unique reasons. The purpose of the DFL Centre at SINU is to provide support to our five (5) Faculties in delivering their programs through the distance mode.
Manager of Centre
Mr. Martin Otto
Before joining the university in late 2014, Martin was with the University of Goroka working as the Executive Officer and was responsible for Learner and Center Support at the Institute of Distance and Flexible Learning. Prior to joining the University of Goroka, he was working as a Temporary Coordinator for the UPNG Open College at Kainantu Secondary School, Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, PNG, while serving as the Head of Science Department at the Secondary School.