By Abdullah Abdulganiy
The fast spreading coronavirus pandemic is creating fears across societies of the globe, and as a reaction, social life has been shut down in most affected societies. The covid-19 reality, however, has brought to the front burner of discussion the need to revolutionize our education sector in Nigeria.
The fact is that we are still living in the past here in Nigeria, especially with regard to our education sector. We still study archaic realities, work with relic education system and scheme and operate a traditional learning method.
In recent times, advanced economies and serious countries have gone paperless and exploited the revolution in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to transform their education system. Virtual learning procedures have been initiated, and students continue to benefit immensely from it. Courses are taken online without the need to appear physically.
Amid the coronavirus palaver, schools have shut down physically in most societies, but virtual learning continues in sane ones. After recording about 12 cases, most state governments in Nigeria sprang into action by suspending schooling activities and banning public gatherings. A day after, the Federal Government also declared all schools, basic, secondary and tertiary, closed till further notice.
Now that schools are shut down, students are expected to lie hapless without resounding alternatives designed by most state governments. Had we taken the advantage in technological revolution, we would have been talking about virtual classes via online medium now.
Students cannot continue to stay at home for thirty days or till God-knows-when idly. Man is very prone to forgetfulness. In the absence of learning, there is bound for students to forget previous lessons. Therefore, the need for virtual classes at this trying time cannot be wished away. Learning should be a continuous process. Students are still under guidance; without established mechanisms, they may not be encouraged to study.
If the government can properly exploit the media, both traditional and online, an alternative could be devised. For instance, the Lagos State government has set the pace in this regard. It proposes to conduct television and radio programmes where experts in core subjects like Mathematics, English, Biology, Accounting, etc would feature to the listening pleasure of students to make up for the vacuum created by the suspension of schooling activities.
Although the shortfall in power supply may be a limitation in this regard, the initiative is better than having nothing on ground. Like the popular saying goes, ‘half loaf is better than no bread’. At least, a sizeable number of the students would benefit. The radio segment can also help in filling the gap that would be created by the low supply of power; unavailability of television set in some homes and total blackout in some areas.
With regard to the television segment, to benefit all, after the programme is presented in the morning, a repeat or rebroadcast could be done in the afternoon and evening. In this case, those who are out of power supply in the morning can benefit in the afternoon or evening when power supply comes. The power situation is not as bad as that. Other state governments should therefore follow the pace set by Lagos State.
Students of tertiary institutions are at vantage since they are mature and most are experienced. Online mediums such as Whatsapp groups could be exploited to forge ahead in times like this. The lecturer could send texts in relation to his lesson and explain with voice notes. This method, in fact, enhances student participation as it gives room for relative anonymity. Students would be free to express their thoughts and opinions.
What all of these take is the preparedness of government and seriousness on the part of citizens. It’s no rocket science. It has been a long practice in advanced societies. Students, even at primary level, do not carry paper to school again. They’ve gone paperless. Online learning abound with the aid of social media outfits. Nigeria should stop living in the past, and take the advantage of the revolution in ICT.
Abdullah is a sociologist and researcher. He writes from Sokoto, Nigeria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.