It is crucial that the education sector, which is a key sector of the economy, be responsible for training and equipping the future workforce no matter what the prevailing circumstances are, writes Taiwo Adetiloye .
Adetiloye (@TAdetiloye) in an open letter to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, opined that the total shutdown (of schools) has led to more societal ills as agile youths who should be in school are now spending their energies on rather vicious undertakings.
The letter as sent to TechEconomy.ng:
The Honourable Minister,
Ministry of Education,
Federal Secretariat Phase III,
FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
Zip Code: 900242
Attention: Mr Adamu Adamu
cc: Office of the Federal Ministry of Education
I am writing to you to acknowledge some of your efforts in ensuring the educational system in Nigeria remains functional in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. I would also like to recommend possible solutions that can help the education sector resume gradually in the face of the current challenges.
It is heartwarming that the terminal secondary school classes in Nigeria have been allowed to return to school to write their examinations. In addition to this, please kindly let postgraduate and medical students (nurses, pharmacists, etc.) resume academic activities in earnest.
We desperately need doctors, nurses and other health workers in the nearest future to contribute to the health sector that is currently badly hit by a shortage of professionals.
For postgraduate students, they can use Zoom or any other internet teleconferencing platform for their seminars and project/thesis defence.
These students need to be in school because some of them will have to replace retiring faculty staff and possibly work in different government agencies and parastatals pretty soon.
The use of online platforms will, no doubt, require huge investments in electricity, internet, hardware and software. I believe it is long overdue for our universities to be self-sustaining in electricity generation. The relevant stakeholders should spare nothing to get our ivory towers up and running.Primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions can instruct courses via the internet and laboratory sessions can be simulated online. Private universities should be encouraged to resume immediately as long as they comply with government regulations.
The Nigerian government does not need to create the platforms since there are platforms already in place such as Coursera, Udacity, etc.
Government and private universities just need to partner with the proprietors of those training and learning platforms. For instance, Edx was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for distance learning, research and collaboration among universities across the globe. This has helped to promote remote learning a great deal.
Furthermore, students should be encouraged to remotely take some course credit units from accredited institutions all over the world.
After completing the courses, the students should be encouraged to transfer their credit units to complete their studies in their home universities in Nigeria.
Shutting down the entire educational system, from all indications, is not the best approach to deal with the worldwide impact of COVID-19.
We need to take a cue from universities in places like Asia, Europe and North America which managed to remain open in spite of the pandemic.
Many students in foreign universities shared their convocation ceremony stories on Linkedln during the raging pandemic, for instance. If universities and other tertiary institutions can do this,
I am convinced that Nigeria and other African countries can rise up to the challenges of the new normal education-wise.
I do understand that the Ministry of Education has given some guidelines on policies that should be put in place for universities to resume. However, federal and state universities may have financial constraints in meeting the requirements.
Hence, it is imperative that higher institutions be allowed to open gradually and not suddenly. Besides, the ASUU strike is still a cogent issue to be resolved.
It is crucial that the education sector, which is a key sector of the economy, be responsible for training and equipping the future workforce no matter what the prevailing circumstances are. A complete shutdown has led to more societal ills as agile youths who should be in school are now spending their energies on rather vicious undertakings.
We remain resolute and hopeful that the pandemic will give way for normalcy, as soon as possible.
Taiwo T. Adetiloye writes from Canada. He is on Twitter as: @TAdetiloye