Editorial: Making A Case For E-Learning In Nigeria Beyond Covid-19
Earlier this year, Nigeria and many other countries were caught unawares by a pandemic that over 1million persons worldwide have contracted.
The panic was also extended to different sectors with the education sector badly affected. Schools were forced to shut-down and millions of students stayed back home . Interestingly, in Nigeria which is Africa’s largest economy and world’s most populous nation, there were discussions around deploying E-learning to aid students who were idle at home.
Many states such as Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun , Oyo deployed E-learning through broadcast and electronic platforms . It was during this same period that the Academic Staff Union of Universities through the national President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi opined that Nigerian Universities cannot deploy E-learning, noting that there are under-facilities for such at the moment.
With the Covid-19 pandemic subsiding, the zeal about leveraging E-learning for learning has dropped, not only has it dropped, the feasibility of it forming a national discourse is not far from fetched. Nigeria during the time of some economic boom has been guilty of ignoring the educational sector, the budgetary allocation sometimes causes rancor and raises question on the government’s commitment to the growth of knowledge in Nigeria.
With the Covid-19 pandemic causing reduction in the revenue in-flow and Nigeria largely depending on Crude-Oil sourced revenue, there may-be ‘good’ excuses for not adopting the ICT powered learning that allows decongestion, promotes innovation, ensures better qualitative graduates and several other benefits.
We must begin to realize that Technology is evolving and there is no complete education when we do not tap its advantages. Importantly, schools have begun to resume and students may have no other option that go back to the old ways of learning even in the face of a need to do Social Distancing.
The Techmirror magazine’s Digital Literacy Advocacy Club and Centre for Information Technology and Development hosted a national conference on E-learning in August and it was gathered that even stakeholders are scared of possibilities the ICT will bring into education. Wrong notions of job losses are there too. For a country that is grappling with unstable power supply, rising costs of items and job losses, E-learning is looking far beyond the reality of the average Nigeria. It is very unclear how the country will train lecturers, equip lecture theatres and leverage on a learning management system with the current feelers around the sector.
Nigeria should not wait for another pandemic which we pray does not happen before taking decisive measures on issues such as E-learning and Technology powered education. This is also time for the Ministry of education to explore partnerships even with fellow government agencies such as NITDA, world organizations and Corporate bodies to beat the situation we may find ourselves in the nearest time.
It is particularly important that the government steps-in to bring our educational sector to global standards. Even our best ranked public Institution cannot boast of being able to run E-learning conveniently, this is a big dent on our image as a progress seeking country.
The argument that Nigerian youths can use same data used on the Social media for E-learning is wrong. Multiple sim users exist in Nigeria, making it look like many persons actually have access to good phones or internet.
The time to continue to make serious efforts toward E-learning is now. Although, E-learning cannot replace physical places, it has become unavoidable for Nigeria.