COVID-19 EXPOSES FRAILTY OF NIGERIA’S ICT POLICY ON EDUCATION
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has once again exposed the fragile state of Nigeria’s educational system. A messy system which lacks Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ingredients, leaving the system to churn out half-baked graduates
And with the continued closure of schools in an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic, severely disadvantaged children and their families are in anguish because of the interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems, and consequent economic cost to families who could not work.
Today, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. But only those in major cities, the rich, and intrepid can afford e-learning especially with epileptic public power supply and high cost of internet connectivity. Most people in rural areas have not even seen or touched a computer.
Save the Children, a non-governmental organization which invests in childhood urged governments and communities to act now to ensure that millions of vulnerable children do not lose out on their education as schools close their gates.
But Nigeria is in a conundrum because of several years of neglect and lack of investment in the educational system. For instance, despite repeated calls to raise a new generation of ICT driven graduates, Nigerian leaders have paid no attention to the complete makeover of the schools’ curriculum.
Particularly disturbing is the fact that most Nigerian graduates leave institutions of higher learning without even touching a computer, leaving them without requisite skills to integrate into the ICT driven business environment.
Under-funding, population explosion, quantity and quality of the teaching staff have been variously identified as some of the reasons why Nigeria is yet to strike the right chord. The high-cost price of computer hardware and software, apathy and lack of concerted investment in information technology training are some of the other reasons why most graduates leave school computer illiterates.
Most school teachers from primary to tertiary also lack the skills to fully utilise technology in curriculum implementation hence the traditional chalk and duster approach still dominates in school pedagogy.
Maybe, the current coronavirus-imposed school closures are the wakeup to rejig the educational sector. And will involve developing an effective curriculum that includes communications, numeracy, information technology, and social skills units, with specific, specialised teaching of each. It is also important to attract and retain qualified and experienced IT lecturers as well as build state-of-the-art laboratories.
A modern and vibrant education system entails wide-ranging activities that would ensure functional and qualitative education of the highest possible standards at basic, post-basic and tertiary levels.
The primary goals to achieve this include providing access to quality education at all levels, improved learning and teaching infrastructure, according to greater importance to science, information technology, technical, vocational education and training.