Yes, Mukhanyo, like all other educational facilities had to close at the end of March. But this did not and does not mean that Mukhanyo’s work came to a standstill. However, some things had to change quite drastically. Mutatis mutandis!
Some staff had to work harder than ever to manage, motivate, arrange and administer, all from home. Which apparently was done quite successfully.
But how did the lecturers continue teaching their students (and still do)? And did the lockdown enable them to get involved in other ways also?
Most lecturers were able to catch up with some of the work which was in arrears or neglected. And many became involved in helping needy families as well as attending to pastoral issues, also in respect of their students. Many also had time for longer devotions and spiritual growth, learning new skills and/or upgrading technology and other skills. Here follows some reports from several Mukhanyo lecturers (very summarised).
Rev Tebogo Mogale reports that he was able to keep in touch with his students via emails, WhatsApp and phone calls. He restructured his pastoral theology module and also submitted an overdue module for the Focus programme.
Dr Gerrit Heino emailed students a detailed overview of the pages of the textbook as well as 87 exam questions to be studied. He’s busy with a lot of marking and with curriculum development for a number of modules. He and his wife also started fundraising in The Netherlands for needy households in and around Pretoria.
Mrs Amanda Nel continued to develop second semester study guides. Some modules were at the last stage of formatting which requires time consuming word-for-word reading and checking. She is also able to keep in contact with her students.
Rev Paul Mahlangu had to read up about the role of women in the church because the topic was discussed in the classis. Problems with digital data made it difficult to work with the fulltime students. Distance students were doing better and they submitted assignments as Rev Paul could guide them, both from their study guides and with some WhatsApp discussions. He’s busy marking assignments and preparing lectures.
Dr Bryson Arthur contracted bronchitis soon after the beginning of the lockdown. Now he is healthy again and his online lectures have been successful. Copies of his new book, A Theology of Suffering, arrived from England, but remains locked-down.
Mr Jacques Malan was forced to learn to use digital methods like recording voice clips from his laptop and sending them by WhatsApp. He also prepared a new Focus module, including the study guide, the question bank and the assignment instructions.
Dr Greg Philip was able to prepare his exam papers and memoranda. He prompted his students with emails and WhatsApp messages, telling them what they could still do and sending them resources. He set up a YouTube account and started recording and uploading video lectures for his students. It was a challenge and an interesting learning curve, even making his own wooden lectern.
Rev Glyn Williams’ mother-in-law passed away two days before lockdown after a five year battle with cancer. Dealing with her estate was a challenge. However, he was able to catch up on several projects, including writing material for two of the new higher certificate modules, updating forms, documents and procedures for distance groups. He also started to prepare a distance tutor training programme and commenced research studies for his MTh degree.
Dr Eben le Roux reports that he had a lovely, chaotic time with three daughters needing guidance with their schoolwork, entertaining his disruptive 4-year old and a teacher-wife who had to teach to 55 kids online. When contacting his students, the problem of suffering became a reality to him. He is thankful for Mukhanyo’s strong teamwork, collective wisdom and committed leadership.
Unfortunately about a third of all Mukhanyo’s campus-based students are at home in areas with limited network and connectivity issues. So we often had to use more unconventional “online” tools to work with them so that they can complete the semester.
As one lecturer concluded: “Despite everything, God has remained faithful and has continued to provide in many ways, physical and spiritual. Soli Deo Gloria.”