NIGERIA EDUCATION DURING COVID-19

The outbreak of the deadly Corona Virus Disease ( Covid-19) is a global blow that has dealt cruely on the entire globe. The global world in the past , had been besieged by legions of pandemic but none lingered as this as the figure keep increasing as each day breaks.

This menace has adversely affect all the sectors of the society ranging from economy, religion, transportation, family, government, education, to mention but few bringing everything to an abrupt halt.

The economy is suffering because all major financial institutions (Banks, Insurance Company, Stock exchange, Markets etc) are grossly affected. This has led to loss of jobs( livelihood), suicide, broken homes, delinquency among youths, prostitution and other unprintable social vices.

Religion as a sector is not spared from this deadly blow as all worship centres have been put under lock and bar most especially in states like the Gateway State ( Ogun), Centre of Excellence (Lagos) and Centre of Unity( Abuja).

 Family, the smallest and indispensable unit of the society has not been left untouched by this deadly monster particularly in socio-economic area. This implies many members of the society who fell victim of the virus were temporarily/ permanently separated from their loved ones thereby causing emotional gap.

Economically, the family whose bread winner is separated from them will be vulnerable to hunger, frustration, attack and indulgence in social vices all in a bid to put food on the table.

Education, which is the process of teaching and learning cannot thrive independent of other sectors. Though very pivotal to the development of any nation, it needs sizeable inputs from other economy sectors.

As it is universally accepted that the contribution of education to the advancement of the society is highly germane and cannot be over emphasized as it largely contribute to the betterment of the society hence, any sane country would not endlessly shut the gate of her learning centres because of a pandemic that can be managed.

E-learning; a suggested nostrum to substitute classroom learning implemented by Federal Government of Nigeria can not successfully thrive in a country like Nigeria where knowledge gap and poverty prevail.

The Minister of State of Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba speaking on behalf of the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu said ” These e-learning platforms have been declared subscription free for Nigerian students in primary and secondary levels during the period of lockdown as necessitated by Covid-19 pandemic” a pertinent question to ask is “how many Nigerian students at both the primary and secondary levels have benefitted from the ” supposed” free e-learning scheme? and if the affirmative, how many of the parents of these pupils/ students are financially bouyant enough to own a smartphone or personal computer or learned enough to operate these gadgets; the only means of benefitting from this scheme?

He further said “online classes are the same as off-line classes, and you can download them and keep them at your pace”.it is worth noting at this point that, it is psychologically believed that’ we tend to hear and understand better when eye contact is maintained’. This online class can never in any way be compared with the classroom teaching which avails a teacher-students relationship, response, participation and interaction from pupils/ students. What then becomes of a kind of learning activity where the teacher doesn’t even know if the pupils/ students he/ she is teaching are actually listening and there’s no adequate feedback from the students to ascertain if the subject taught was well understood and digested? Why don’t Nigeria stop making mountains out of a mole hill? For how long do we keep the gate of learning shut? Why don’t we emulate our neighbouring countries who have adequately saved for the rainy day by equipping and constantly refurbish their educational sector even before the outbreak of this plague? Or is that not where we send our children to, to have a beffitting education?.

Over the years, the percentage allocated to education in Nigeria’s yearly financial budget is nothing to write home about. The allocated percentage yearly has always been below 8% as against the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO)’s recommendation of 15%-20% benchmark while huge percentages were allocated to furniture and other things. This is to depict the level of importance our country Nigeria attach to education which ought to be among our most prioritized sectors.

The education sector is a manpower producing sector. The level of education of citizens of a particular country is also one of the criteria for rating development of a country in the world system, if then our educational institutions in Nigeria remain closed, if our country, Nigeria can voluntarily exempted herself from participating in West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination(WASSCE) (an international examination) as declared by the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, while students from other countries will partake in the examination, how then do we measure up to standard among our counterparts? For how long do we shut the gate of knowledge while our children, the ‘supposed’ leaders of tomorrow loaf arround the neighborhood? It’s high time we stop toying with the future of our children by depriving them their right to education in the guise of safeguarding them from danger. The gates of our learning centres can be flung widely opened without fear of contraction if the following measures can be appropriately and adequately put in place:

Morning assembly should be suspended to avoid body contact, preventive measures facilities like washing hand basin for regular washing of hands and sanitizers for disinfection should be provided for schools.

Social distancing ( a means of specific spacing of individuals to avoid body contact) can be maintained in classroom for schools with adequate learning facilities. In cases of schools with little or no learning facilities, study schedule (a learning method where pupils/ students are divided into different learning groups to take place at different times) should be introduced to maintain social distance thereby reducing the risk of contraction. A class of fifty can be divided into two groups of twenty-five each. A part can be scheduled to learn for specific hours and be dismissed to be replaced by the other set. More teachers should be employed to enhance the introduced study schedule to facilitate effectiveness.

Face mask should be freely distributed to both students and teachers and strict adherence should be monitored.

Literary and debate, sporting activities and any other learning activity that brings lots of students together should also be suspended till further notice.

Government as an agency that is solely responsible for the well being of the society will do well if they erect sick bay and deploy health workers to schools to promptly attend to emergency health needs as the need may arise.

It is bitter, saddening but truthful to state that, Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) has come to stay. Nevertheless, we can learn to live with this lingering visitor without collision.

Seminars should be organized for teachers on how to live and teach pupils/ students on how to live peacefully with the pandemic until it bade us goodbye.

The closure of all sector of the economy is a laudable decision that was taken by the government to safeguard her citizens from danger, but it remains baffling that after some time, the closure of most economy sectors was revised. CHURCH, TRANSPORTATION and MARKET(the most crowded and most vulnerable place to contract the dreaded Corona Virus Disease) started in full gear. What a good move and a relief to the long confined citizens! But one of the most crucial and highly germane sector of the economy (education) remain shut. Why?

Recently, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu declared that Nigeria may not partake in 2020 WASSCE examination and school will not reopen any time soon after the hope of students, parents and teachers have been falsely raised previously that resumption is imminent.

In his words, he said ” Nigerian schools will not reopen anytime soon ” until it is safe to do so because of the Covid19 pandemic”. When is the safest time to resume? Even Wuhan, China where the pandemic originated from have flung open the gate of their schools with adequate preventive measures in place to enable graduating students resume back to school in preparation for their final examination.

The Minister of Education further stressed that, he would prefer “Nigerian students lose an academic year than expose them to danger”. Oh! what a statement from a concerned father and Minister.

 

However, it is expedient to remind the concerned Minister that the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has reiterated that the scheduled gubernatorial polls in Ondo and Edo states will hold unabatedly.

These two exercises will involved millions of unorganized electorates compared to the organized WASSCE candidates who are less than 1.5million.

 

These heart throbbing questions cannot be left unasked.

 

Which is the most vulnerable place to contract the Corona Virus Disease, Covid-19, Transportation means(especially road commuters), markets, electoral polling units, religious houses or schools?

 

Which is safe to allow to happen, reopening of schools which comprises of students who sometimes are not up to a thousand in some schools with strict adherence to social distancing and conducting of election involving millions of unorganized people?

Which is more important to lose in a bid to protecting citizens from danger, one full academic year or postponement of the proposed governorship election ‘ till it is safe to do so’? These rhetorical questions should be answered among the presidency and our highly effective Minister of Education.

Conclusively, if the above proffered preventive measures are adequately put it place, faithfully observed( by School staff and students) and tenaciously enforced through the use of State apparatus( Police, Army, NSCDC, FRSC, NIS, NCS, NIA); then it is wise, safe, patriotic, appreciate and timely to reopen Nigerian Schools.

This will show the seriousness and proactiveness of the Government thereby resuscitating our nearly dead Educational sector.

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