Is good education attainable in Nigeria amidst the Covid-19 pandemic?
While the question above may seem rhetoric, it deserves an answer from governmental bodies, guardians, educators, and students.
Education has proven to be a tool for individual and national development. And to pioneer development in any country, education must be a continuous process.
In a nutshell, we will discuss education in Nigeria amidst the Covid-19 pandemic: the challenges and the way forward.
Education is the process or art of imparting knowledge, skill, and judgment. But in this context, education is the process of giving or receiving organized instruction, especially at a university or school. This process could be age-sensitive, gender-based, or even religiously affiliated. In Nigeria, education requires the physical presence of both teachers and students. As a result, proximity is a limiting factor.
There was an ongoing struggle to ensure that young children have access to quality education in Nigeria even before the pandemic. UNICEF reports that 10.5 million children between the ages of 5-14years do not go to school in Nigeria. And only 61% of 6 to 11-year-olds regularly attend primary school. In some states in the north-east and north-west of the country, more than half of the girls are not in schools as marginalization deprives girls of basic education.
But since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, quality education in Nigeria seemed more like a myth, as schools had to shut down to prevent further spread of the virus. As it stands, the only way forward is to override the location-factor and adopt remote teaching in Nigeria.
Adopting Remote Teaching to sustain Education in Nigeria
Remote teaching, which is also considered e-learning, is typically facilitated through technology (connecting with a PC or smartphone), such as video conferencing, discussion boards, social media platforms, or learning management systems.
This type of teaching may be synchronous—where students watch educators deliver their lectures live—or asynchronous—where students watch lecture recordings at a later point in time. However, some educational institutions are yet to join the trend—integrating technology and education—while others struggle to fit in because they do not have the necessary gadgets to enable a good e-learning experience.
Necessary actions required to adopt remote teaching in Nigeria
While remote teaching and learning seem like the only way forward for education in Nigeria, many children in rural communities are left behind as they do not have what it takes to transit to e-learning. According to an Executive Summary on Poverty and Inequality by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019, 40.1% of Nigeria’s population were classified as poor. That is, on average, four out of ten Nigerians have per capita expenditure below $400. This is quite disheartening.
Hence, here are some necessary actions to be taken to ensure the effective adoption of remote learning:
- The government should reform the national curriculum to align with post-pandemic activities.
- Scheduling radio and TV lessons will also help students in public schools who do not have access to internet-enabled gadgets.
- Provide solar radios for those who cannot afford an electric radio.
- Create educational projects specifically for children in underserved communities, equipping them with necessary learning tools.
- Improve educators’ welfare by procuring internet-enabled gadgets, especially for those in public schools, increasing their wages, etc.
- More Private-Public Partnerships will also benefit children in rural communities.
- The government should build ICT structures to help integrate technology and education.
- Network providers should subsidize data costs for educators. Better still, they should work closely with the government to create special low-cost internet packages for educators and students.
- The government can also liaise with big tech companies like Google and Zoom to prompt them to provide free internet access for learning apps—zoom, Google Meet, Google learning, etc.
In all, the efforts so far from educators and non-governmental organizations have been commendable. Remote teaching is not only an emergency teaching method; it is also the next big thing in the educational sector. And while it may take longer to adopt this new method in Nigeria, it is plausible.