Education Without Borders: Rethinking Nigeria’s Education System
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a sweeping effect across different sectors of the Nigerian economy. From the financial sector to entertainment and the education sector, the effect has been drastic. Stakeholders in every affected sector have been forced to restructure, rethink, relearn and retool their operations.
Nigerian educators and education experts from both the public and private sectors recently gathered at a virtual masterclass to discuss the effect of the pandemic on the sector, and to fashion out ways to operate a learning system that is without borders and boundaries.
The masterclass was part of MTN Nigeria’s The Revv Programme.
Speakers were made up of educators and education experts from the public and private sector, namely, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, Senior Special Assistant on Education Interventions to President Muhammadu Buhari; Sim Shagaya, CEO, ULesson Education; Orondaam Otto, Founder/ED, Slum2School Africa; Bolajoko Falore, Education Director, Mind Builders School; Olamidun Majekodunmi, Country Manager, Nexford University; and Babalola Oyeleye, General Manager, Transformation Office, MTN Nigeria.
Themed “Education without Borders and Boundaries”, The Revv Programme is an MTN initiative to help small businesses navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.
Speaking at the masterclass, Mr. Bank-Olemoh, said one key area Nigerians should expect more funding in the sector, was in the area of devices for digital learning.
The president’s education adviser said that the federal and state governments, in collaboration with some development partners, were working to make this a reality.
“How do we get affordable devices into the hands of school students?” Bank-Olemoh said. According to him, the pandemic has meant that stakeholders in the sector have been forced to rethink the workings of the system.
“The reality has changed how we do education whether at the state or federal level. Whether we like it or not, we have to provide devices for our children; this is because if something like this happens the second time, we can’t make the excuse of not planning for it,” he said.
Considering the challenges faced by the sector, this rethinking has become necessary.
In a June 2020 article on the effect of the pandemic on the resumption date for schools, Guardian stated that according to statistics from the Federal Ministry of Education, as at 2010, “there were 782 teachers and 18,296,202 pupils (a ratio of about 1:50) in 39,221 primary schools. For public secondary schools, students’ enrolment was 5,422,611 and 122,477 teachers (a ratio of 1:45).”
These figures are in stark contrast to the recommended number of one teacher to 30 students per classroom.
Shagaya of ULesson said the challenge of shortage of teachers that will make a subject teacher offer his expertise across multiple schools, presents an opportunity to education stakeholders in the education sector to digitise the learning process.
According to experts at the masterclass, the only way to bridge this widening gap was for stakeholders and policy makers to find ways to digitise learning.
With the new normal of maintaining social distance means that going forward, governments at all levels will be retooling the learning process to make education digital.