Rethinking Nigeria’s education system in a pandemic

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By Victor Ilo

It is apparent that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a sweeping effect across different sectors of the Nigerian economy. Even worse is that the effect has been drastic, from the financial sector to entertainment and the education sector. Stakeholders in every affected sector have been forced to restructure and rethink their operations.

For the education sector, it has been months since schools across the country shut down due to the pandemic. Unlike countries with good educational structure, learning has been paused till further notice. Federal tertiary institutions in Nigeria do not have e-learning capabilities. The same is with state-run schools and the average secondary and primary schools.

Recently, the government allowed students in exit classes to resume school in preparation for WASSCE. We can only hope that these children do well after months of learning hiatus. We should ask ourselves; how can our students compete on the world stage with this quality of education?

What is, however, inspiring is that the government has realised the deficiency and has moved towards remedy. The Special Assistant on Education Interventions to President Muhammadu Buhari, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, recently mentioned the government’s readiness to invest more in digital education. He said this at a virtual panel session of Nigerian educators and education experts from both the public and private sectors to discuss the effect of the pandemic on the education sector.

The action is long overdue and a step in the right direction from the government which has received criticisms in its handling of the sector. The president’s education adviser said one key area Nigerians should expect more funding in the sector, was in the area of devices for digital learning. The pandemic has meant that stakeholders in the sector have been forced to rethink the workings of the system. According to the special assistant, the federal and state governments, in collaboration with some development partners, are working to make this a reality.

Considering the challenges faced by the education sector, this rethinking has become necessary. The coming development of digitalising education in Nigeria brings confidence in the sector. We may owe it to a pandemic, but the government has begun to take necessary steps in salvaging the education sector.

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