THE NIGERIAN EDUCATION IN THE POST COVID-19 WORLD BY FAVOUR CHUKWUBUEZE


Education is the bedrock of every society. This is because it is the solution to whatever problem any society might face [1].  Knowledge acquired (whether formally or informally) are essential in tackling challenges of life. Therefore, the best investment government, parents, companies, society can make is to educate their citizens, children, workers, members, etc.  This helps to eradicate illiteracy and encourages rapid development in communities. Nigeria, just like other countries has education as one of the major sectors of the country.

In Nigeria, Education is administered by the federal, state, and local governments. The federal ministry of education is responsible for overall policy formation and ensuring quality control but is primarily involved with tertiary education. School Education is largely the responsibility of state and local government. The systems of education in Nigeria is made up of three different sectors:

Basic Education: This is made free and compulsory for all in Nigeria. It includes the elementary schools (covering grades one through six) and the junior secondary schools (JS1-3). They are largely the responsibility of the local government.

Senior Secondary Education: This is the responsibility of the state government. In 2010, Nigeria was reported to have a total of 7,104 secondary schools and 4,448,981 pupils [2]. Their curriculum has a stronger focus on vocational training and is intended to increase the employability of high school graduates.

Tertiary Education: As of 2018, Nigeria has 160 approved universities. These include 43 federal universities, 48 state universities, and 79 private universities. In addition, there were 113 polytechnics and 47 monotechnics ,71 colleges of health technology, 153 innovation enterprise institutions, most of which are privately owned, and 132 technical colleges. There were 82 colleges of education, consisting of 22 federal, 46 under the state’s care, and 14 privately owned. They are overseen by the National University Commission (NUC) and the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE). 


LAPSES IN NIGERIAN EDUCATION

Nigeria is one of the most populous countries in the world with growing economic importance having the potential to emerge as a major global economy. However, the high rate of corruption and dependence in oil revenue have radically undercut these potentials[2]. These have affected all the sectors in the country including the Education sector. Nigeria allocates about 7% of its national budget to education, as opposed to the 15% to 20% recommended by UNESCO [3,5]. As a result, schools, and institutions within the country suffer severe under-funding ranging from low payment of staff, lack of basic facilities and infrastructures, deterioration of public schools and universities, increase in tuition fees, etc. [2,5].

Aside from that, Nigeria's Education sector has been overburdened by strong population growth and a significant “Youth bulge”. More than 60% of the country’s population is under the age of 24 and there is an insufficient resource to accommodate all. This has caused poor quality education in the country and has turned a number of would-be students away from the system [2]. About 13.2 million school-age children are out of school in Nigeria, making it the highest in the world. According to UNICEF, One of every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria [3,4]. In 2015, About two-thirds of the applicants who sat for the country’s national entrance exam could not find a spot at a Nigerian university. This limited access to education has led to a high rate of illiteracy in the country and has also no doubt contributed to the use of bribes and personal connections to gain places at universities. Thereby increasing the rate of academic corruption and fraud in the country. The government, however, are relentless in their efforts to improve the standard of education and make it accessible to all children and youths in the country. This has led to the implementation of many policies, some of which are making basic education free and compulsory for all, encouraging the building of private universities by individuals and NGOs.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

At the end of 2019, a series of pneumonia cases of unknown cause emerged in Wuhan (Hubei,

China) . A few weeks later, in January 2020, deep sequencing analysis from lower respiratory tract samples identified a novel virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COVID-2) as a causative agent for that observed pneumonia cluster. Corona Virus Disease named  COVID-19 by WHO is an RNA virus, with a typical crown-like appearance under an electron microscope due to the presence of glycoprotein spikes on its envelope [6,7]. The COVID-19 epidemic expanded in early December from Wuhan, China’s 7th most populous city, throughout China and was then exported to a growing number of countries. On 11th March 2020, It was declared a global pandemic [6,7].

Nigeria recorded its first Covid-19 case in February 2020[1,3,8]. In an attempt to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, the government-sanctioned risk-control directives across the country. Ranging from international airport closures, nationwide closure of all schools to the shutdown of businesses and industries. The consequences such as the global economic crisis and decrease in oil prices are poised to be severe for the country [8]. This will create a sharp shock that will reshape the economy in the near term. For some sectors in the country especially the Education sector, the immediate ramifications are evident. The shutdown of schools has disrupted learning and access to vital school-provided services for a number of students in Nigeria. According to UNESCO, almost 40 million learners have been affected by the nationwide school closure [1,3, 8].

 READ ALSO https://funmbat.blogspot.com/2020/12/covid-19-nigeria-and-trust-tale-of.html 

The impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria Education include

a. Interruption of learning and delay in graduation. The shutdown of schools has affected approximately 25.6 million primary school students and 10.3 million secondary school students. This impact is felt more by the public school students (as a result of poor infrastructures such as lack of electricity, or poor/no internet connectivity, etc.) compared to private schools students from higher socio-economic backgrounds (who are willing and able to pay more to access the better resources such as E-learning) [3,4,8].

b. Increase in Educational Inequality and the number of school drop-outs.

c. Lack of funding which may lead to poor management of schools by school management or government on resumption.

d. Inflation and the inability of students to pay school fees on resumption.

To mitigate the learning crisis that may arise, the following strategies would be helpful.

a.       E-Learning and distance learning through Low-Cost Technology should be encouraged. The vulnerable population in Nigeria should be reached by adopting multiple learning delivery modalities ranging from television, radio, and SMS-based mobile platforms that are more easily available to the poor. With over 80 percent of the adult population having access to radios and phones, it would be possible to reach most children left behind with targeted instructions via these mediums. For tertiary schools, E-learning and video conferencing should be encouraged [8].

b.      Empowering and Supporting teachers and parents. Teachers should be trained on this learning system and the use of technological devices in teaching in order to transfer knowledge in the ways students will understand. Parents/guardians irrespective of their education level will be required to play a pivotal role to ensure learning is unencumbered. In order to ensure proper uptake of the available resources, the government will also need to ensure that parents are equipped to create a conducive learning environment, and support children in this new mode of learning. At this time, parents would be required to act as intermediaries between the school management/government and the children in learning delivery. Therefore, it is essential that the government supports them in understanding and executing their roles during this crucial time [1,8].

c.       Financing Education. Government should invest in the Education sector the same way they are investing in the healthcare sector. They should make communication devices available to students across the country. They should also partner with telecommunication companies to offer free or subsidize mobile data packages for students to make internet services accessible for E-learning [3].

d.      Tapping into Global Resources. The country should explore international loans and grants facilities for education as part of mitigation and recovery plans in weathering the COVID-19 crisis.

 Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has the probability of causing a lot of challenges to Nigerian Education, also creates an opportunity to reshape the country’s educational system. The crisis has pointed to a number of fundamental action steps: the imperative need to embed appropriate technology into learning; the urgency to bridge educational inequity that currently exists, and could further be exacerbated and; the need to increase the national budget on Education and the need to invest in research [1,8].

There is a need to embed more technology into the classroom. Technological solutions, like E-learning and distant technology, can ensure personalized learning with minimal teacher involvement and have the potential to deliver better learning experiences at low costs. The adoption of these technologies has been slow and uneven in Nigeria. The post-crisis period is an opportunity to invest in technology in both the private and public school systems. To achieve this system-wide, it will be important to encourage public-private educational partnerships [1,3,8]. The pandemic crisis is also an opportunity to addressing the out-of-school children issues since the shutdown of schools has sprung up various modalities in reaching children when out of school.

During this period of the pandemic, many countries are engaging in different kinds of research in order to find a cure for the virus. Nigeria has poor infrastructures and facilities to engage in research, even some of the country’s health colleges are also on lockdown. There is a need for the government to invest in research.

REFERENCES

[1] Yinka Dorcas lapido and Adebayo Adebori. Covid-19 is exacerbating the problem of Educational inequity in Nigeria. Op-Ed Contributors. [2020 April 18]. Available from: https://nairametrics.com

[2] WES Staff. Education in Nigeria. [2017 March 7]. Available from:https://wenr.wes.org

[3] Tiabat Aduragba Hussain. Education and Covid-19 in Nigeria: Tackling the Digital. World Literacy Foundation. [2020 April 28]. Available from: worldliteracyfoundation.org

[4] UNICEF. Education [2013]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org

[5] Isaac Adebayo Adeyemi. Nigeria’s Education System is Underfunded. Nigeria Academy of Science. [2016 April 26].

[6] Francesco Di Gennaro, Damiana Pizzol, Claudia Marotta, Mario Antunes, Vincenzo Racalbuto, Nicola Veronese and Lee Smith. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Current Status and Future Perspectives: A narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. [2020 April 14].

[7] World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Situation Report-94. [2020 April 23]

 [8] Thelma Obiakor and Adedeji Adeniran. Covid-19: Impending Situation threatens to deepen Nigeria’s Education Crisis. Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa [2020 April].

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