August 17, 2020
After weeks of deliberations within our community, Ashesi’s Executive team announced plans for semester one of the University’s 2020/2021 academic year to fully start online. Over the days since the announcement was made, various virtual meetings have been held to bring clarity to key stakeholder groups, the most recent being held for Ashesi parents. Discussions for the start of the semester were led by a campus reopening team that included faculty, administrators, and student leadership, with guidance from representatives on Ghana’s COVID-19 response team.
“Although we are moving forward based on our best knowledge of all factors, we recognize that the information that guided these decisions may change,” the Executive Team explained in a University-wide email. “We will continue to make adjustments where necessary and maintain transparency in communicating with the Ashesi community.”
Key factors that influenced the decision to continue Ashesi’s semester online included the risk of exposure from various community members commuting to and from campus, complexities of rigorous testing on campus, and closure of Ghana’s borders to international students. The Executive team’s announcement also highlighted several measures being put in place to ensure more accessible online learning for all students. And for students and families whose economic circumstances have been severely affected by the pandemic, the University will provide financial aid to help mitigate learning disruptions.
For the incoming Class of 2024, the decision to host all welcome activities online was a difficult but necessary one. “We recognize that the associated risk of COVID-19 infection would completely nullify the benefits of an in-person on-campus start,” the University Executive Team explained. “Nonetheless, our incoming first-year students will have a lot to learn to transition into Ashesi effectively. Teams are being formed to design new online orientation programs and activities to welcome all members of this class to Ashesi.”
Though Ashesi has enrolled some students from an applicant pool that already had exam results, many high school students across Africa are yet to complete their certification exams. With this in mind, the University will be breaking the enrolment of the Class of 2024 into two cohorts. The first cohort of enrolled students will begin their semester in early September, with classes focused on skills and strategies critical to thriving at Ashesi. The University anticipates that the class, with timelines for completing high school exams in September in mind, would be fully enrolled by the end of October. Students enrolled later in the year will also take classes in foundational Ashesi skills from November to December. Come January 2021, all members of the class would be able to continue their learning in our regular four-month semester structure.
“We understand that the connections and experiences we share in the spaces at Ashesi will not be easily replicated online,” the announcement added. “However, we are excited about this chance to strengthen the spirit of innovative action that defines us, and the extraordinary opportunity within this period to pursue ideas that may have seemed far away in the past. We have new momentum to possibly redefine experiences across many parts of Ashesi, and the decisions we each make moving forward will influence many generations of Ashesi to come. We look forward to working with you to chart this new path and deepen Ashesi’s work and impact.”
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