Establishment of a pandemic assessment system for universities

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LIBYA

No less than 33 Libyan tertiary sector faculties were closed following the implementation of an evaluation system by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to determine the readiness of educational institutions higher public and private – and assist in evidence-based decision making on whether to continue or suspend contact learning.

The results of the Pandemic Preparedness Assessment System were released on August 28.

Based on the classification of 26 universities and their 311 faculties into three categories, a total of 171 faculties were allowed to remain open, 107 faculties were suspended for a week until precautionary measures were put in place. work and 33 faculties were closed until a re-assessment was made to consider COVID-19 precautionary measures.

According to Ahmed Atia, head of department at the Faculty of Medical Technology at the University of Tripoli, the shutdown process seemed transparent and fair.

“[The closed] faculties must develop plans to align their practices with COVID-19 prevention control measures, ”he said News from academia.

Data gathering

The classification of faculties is based on the information they provide on forms prepared by the Ministry’s Committee on the Epidemiological Framework for the Safe Return of Students to Public and Private Universities.

Information is requested on aspects such as availability of physical distance in classrooms, appropriate doors and windows for good ventilation, availability of sources of drinking water, toilets, sinks, supplies cleaning and hand soap as well as hand sanitizers and remote thermometers at the front door and in the auditoriums.

The questionnaires also ask for information on the existence of a daily disinfection plan for classrooms and staff offices as well as the presence of facilities where sick people can isolate themselves.

In addition, information is requested on whether all students and staff are required to wear masks at all times and whether educational institutions have a supply of masks for low-income students.

The forms also ask about the likelihood of large gatherings such as sporting events as well as the levels of awareness and training programs on methods of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for students, workers and the community. .

In addition, information should be provided on timetables to reduce the overcrowding of students in classrooms and the distance learning capacity of an institution, as well as the presence of a portal and staff to organize the ‘entry of students and the possibility of applying interdisciplinary learning schedules as well as a plan in accordance with precautionary measures (alternative education).

Crisis management system

Libyan engineer Waleed Gashout, president of the Organization of Private Higher Education Students, said News from academia Developing the pandemic preparedness assessment system is about gaining experience in crisis management, which African higher education institutions need to learn from COVID-19.

“What is needed now, alongside the assessment system, is a rapid and well communicated COVID-19 response plan that uses modern technology instead of the traditional postal system, which ends up delaying communications,” did he declare.

“[In addition], an evaluation mechanism [is necessary] continuously review the rating system to further improve its effectiveness, ”suggested Gashout.

“To assist in evidence-based decision making in the higher education sector, the Libyan Ministry of Higher Education should also develop a COVID-19 monitoring system for the academic community by establishing an electronic platform for statistics and a smartphone app to monitor reality. epidemiological situation, including cases of infection and death among students, teachers and employers, ”he added.

According to him, reports from national centers, based on COVID-19 tests, do not reflect the real situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in higher education institutions.

Continuing to expand, higher education expert Atia from the University of Tripoli said the pandemic preparedness assessment system is crucial to ensure that faculties and higher education institutions are well prepared. when they start the academic year.

“However, the analysis of the information contained in the forms should be followed by unannounced on-site visits to ensure that the actual situation on the ground complies with best practices for preventing COVID-19,” Atia said.

He suggested that instead of suspending work in faculties that do not meet the criteria of the ministry’s assessment system, the ministry should support those faculties to overcome difficulties that prevent compliance.

As of August 31, Libya had 307,431 infections and 4,247 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country since the start of the pandemic, ranking it fourth in Africa in terms of infections after South Africa, the Morocco and Tunisia.

Libya has fully immunized about 7.6% of its population of around 7 million people.


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