Justice as fairness in preparing for emergency remote teaching: A case from Botswana

African Journal of Health Professions Education 14 (1):1-6 (2022)
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Background. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated drastic changes to undergraduate medical training at the University of Botswana (UB). To save the academic year when campus was locked down, the Department of Medical Education conducted a needs assessment to determine the readiness for emergency remote teaching (ERT) of the Faculty of Medicine, UB. Objectives. To report on the findings of needs assessment surveys to assess learner and teaching staff preparedness for fair and just ERT, as defined by philosopher John Rawls. Methods. Needs assessment surveys were conducted using Office 365 Forms distributed via WhatsApp, targeting medical students and teaching staff during the 5 undergraduate years. Data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. Results. Ninety-two percent (266/289) of students and 73.5% (62/84) of teaching staff responded. Surveys revealed a high penetration of smartphones among students, but poor internet accessibility and affordability in homes. Some teaching staff also reported internet and device insufficiencies. Only WhatsApp was accessible to students and teaching staff. Conclusions. For equitable access to ERT in the future, the surveys revealed infrastructural improvement needs, including wider, stronger, affordable WiFi coverage within Botswana and enhanced digital infrastructures in educational institutions, with increased support for students.

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