News Analysis

Fast Tracking Virtual Education To Cope With The Challenges Of COVID-19

Over the years in Nigeria, as in many other countries worldwide, the four wall of classrooms played significant role in teaching learning.

Even the emergence of internet learning did not take the shine off the typical school setting at all levels of education, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.

However, there is growing rethink about changing the dynamics of the traditional setting, and keying more into the opportunities afforded by the internet.

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic informed, more than anything informed the priority being given to learning via the internet.

The developed countries took the lead extensively in going significantly virtual in education, which was in practice before the outbreak of coronavirus.

Developing Nations including Nigeria have also seen the advantage of this, going by the enforced long break in teaching learning between December 2019 and august 2020.

This has become more imperative with the second wave of covid-19, and the emergence of a deadlier variant recorded in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

It is obvious that the foregoing circumstances informed the recent reservation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities about returning to classes and called for alternative learning.

ASUU’S concerns is rooted in the safety of its members and the society at large

Well, it is not an unfounded concern going by the increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths involving prominent citizens including members of the academia.

Notwithstanding the apprehension, ASUU has not objected to the directive by the National University Commission, NUC,that universities should resume after the nine months spell at home.

Though, Presidential Task Force, PTF, has stressed that Covid-19 protocols should be observed, ensuring full compliance might not be easy going by students population and shortfall in facilities.

Some universities engaged in some measure of virtual learning during the first wave of Covid-19 last year.

While this is a appreciable sign of improvement in the direction of education in the country, much still needs to be done.

This is because the outbreak of second wave of coronavirus is an indication that the virus might likely be around for some time.

The challenge is that utilizing virtual learning effectively in the country, especially in Nigerian schools, require a lot of input.

For effective virtual learning, it is critical that students have the tools and the experience.

The former is a function of financial capacity, and by statistics, the poverty level in Nigeria, is high, so the likelihood of all students possessing internet enable devices, is not very probable.

There is also the problem of stable internet, as the country often contends with ruptured data from service provider.

The E-learning techniques mostly adopted by most of the Nigeria institutions are in form of prepared lectures on a CD-ROM that can be played as at when the need arises but most of this facilities are not adequate or interactive enough.

Aside this, the intranet facilities adopted in most institutions are not well maintained because of its high cost of running and lack of adequate power supply and competent manpower.

Though, most of the institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have started building their centres, but the focus is mainly to put up an internet facility alone without considering other components that made up E-learning centre.

Universities need to consider cost effective and efficient methods of operation if they are to survive and make progress in virtual learning.

Technology alone might not be the answer to all the learning problems, but it certainly can play a key role in learning as COVID-19 affecting globally.  

The more frequently students miss lectures, the worse their performance.

So student must be diligent in their studies as the virtual learning devoted times and seriousness.

Parent should as a matter of fact provides tools and internet subscriptions to enable their children cope with learning systems.

As COVID-19 is still seriously affecting globally, developed countries should see virtual education as being critically needed to compliment traditional method.

For example, to address the absence of academic activities last year, University of Ibadan cancelled the 2019/2020 academic

Hence Federal Government should see virtual learning as a thing to stay and make provision for its existence.

For virtual learning sustainability, there must be stable power supply as it requires energy to power tools

Federal and State Universities should borrow leave from the private institutions who have continued with virtual learning in order for the completion of their academics year despite covid-19 pandemic.

Universities lecturers should develop themselves in information technology communications as most of them see virtual learning as a problem.

Federal government should make Information Communication Technology, ICT, a compulsory subject and add it to school curriculum from the lower classes in order to make teaching and learning easy for both the students and lecturers.

Federal Government should make provision for infrastructure that could delay students and discourage them.

It is pertinent for network provider to reduce their tariff as it may add adverse effects on virtual learning if the cost is not affordable.

Nigeria institutions should strategies to make virtual learning effective and efficient as a way to follow Covid-19 protocol.  

Olukemi Akintunde 

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