pandemic will end, Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu has directed
vice-chancellors, rectors and provosts to reopen using virtual learning. But
experts have argued that the nation’s education sector is not prepared for
such, writes Head, Education Desk, IYABO LAWAL
closure of the nation’s higher educational institutions over the CoronaVirus
pandemic, minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu has directed school
administrators to switch to online learning. Unsure of how soon the COVID-19 will
end, Adamu has opened talks with vice-chancellors, rectors and provosts on how
to reopen using virtual learning.
universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to activate virtual
learning environment to enable students continue their studies through digital
devices. He said although the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on
strike, the government will do its best to resolve the labour crisis.
private universities embraced the idea and expressed readiness to reopen
because they claimed that they have top grade virtual learning system. Adamu,
who had a teleconference with the vice -chancellors and other heads of tertiary
institutions from his home in Abuja, said the Federal Government, cannot afford
to shut schools for a long time.
described the call as laudable, they however expressed mixed feelings on the
possibility of switching to virtual learning, particularly the conventional
failure to adequately fund the sector over the years will make online learning
impossible. A former chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan (UI) branch, Prof
Deji Omole who described our leaders as “millennium jesters”, said if
government had adequately fund the sector, switching to online learning would
not have been a problem.
all these while that they should make certain facilities available for teaching
and learning, and they have refused, this is one of the reasons why ASUU is on
strike, suddenly they now realised that we can no longer move forward without
those things, is that not self-indictment? Who is going to be responsible for
the e-learning? Is it the students or the lecturers if those facilities are not
serious investment and we learnt that some of them sent their children abroad
to study, they should be honest enough to ask them when they come back the
qualities, standard of equipment and infrastructures put in place there for
conducive learning. We are far away from the reality that was why I said they
are millennium jokers.
assume its Whatssap message? What is not on ground, how do you now deploy them
at this critical period? Besides the fact that the union is on strike, even if
the union is not on strike, how do you deploy that? You would know how much as
an individual you spend on internet every month, where will the students get
money? What is not on ground you cannot use it. Those are the things we were
must consciously release money for such facilities to be put on ground, in so
many institutions presently, academic staff use yahoo, gmail and others, infact
at a particular time of the day, you cannot even access your mail. It is a
serious matter. In some instances, you would see students, about 20 of them
clustering in one place because they said signal there is better, government
must be ready to fund education, there is no alternative to it.
chancellor, Caleb University, Imota, Prof Ayodeji Olukoju said there is no
Nigerian university that has the requisite infrastructure to quickly switch
over to online teaching. Olukoju, a distinguished professor at the University
of Lagos (UNILAG) said the average Nigerian university is structured to teach
on the conventional platform and distance learning is not as developed as we
would have loved.
National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), or the distance learning institute
at UNILAG or its counterpart at UI but unlike South Africa’s UNITA, which is
very efficient, we haven’t got to that level here because of the infrastructure
required-online facilities, human resource that is, the technical people that
can handle it and then the trained lecturers that can operate on that platform.
So to the extent that we don’t have such structures, the physical and the
pedagogical on ground, it becomes problematic, we cannot switch over
that government could work towards it, as a future plan as online learning is
not practicable at the moment. “For any university that wants to switch to
virtual learning, apart from the physical structure having a central location,
where those things can be coordinated on their campuses, we also need to be
sure that the students at the other end have power supply and laptop to connect
with their institutions.
in an immediate compliance with the directive of the minister because our
system is structured in such a way that online teaching is not integral to our
system of learning and instruction in Nigeria, its not going to be feasible in
the short run but it can be something to take away from this pandemic.
months, we can assemble experts from different sectors and deliberate on what
we can do should this kind of pandemic recall. What infrastructures must be in
place, how much should it cost, how do we train the technical people, our
lecturers who would handle the teaching, how then do we train our students to
key into the whole process? Those are the things we need to consider and all
stakeholders must be involved. Former vice-chancellor, Bells University of
Technology, Ota, Prof Adebayo Adeyemi however said online learning is
achievable when considered on short, medium and long term basis.
minister’s directive is coming at an awkward time when academic, technical and
administrative staffs are not on ground due to the present lockdown, which
would make it difficult to assemble and train the relevant staff.
said a fire brigade approach would definitely be counterproductive, as he stressed
the need for adequate training and preparation for the implementation of the
to start from somewhere. Who knows, this may be one of the long-term benefits
of the present Corona Virus pandemic inspite of its devastating consequences. I
believe we should look inward, not only within the education sector but in all
sectors and come up with strategies for the adaptation and application of
technology for improved service delivery. While the solid structure may
not be fully in place, Prof Adeyemi said the institutions can still fall back
on the structure in place, no matter how weak it may be.
forget the fact that most institutions, especially universities, are currently
running the open and distance learning (ODL) centre successfully in the
last couple of years, which partly relies on virtual learning. Furthermore,
some institutions in the last couple of years have been investing in the
procurement of some needed facilities in the operation of these centres. One of
the major challenges is fund availability for the procurement of the required
equipment and facilities on a much larger scale than for the ODL centre.
management of our various institutions should see the directive as a challenge
and should go to the drawing board and develop the strategic plan for
implementation including the cost implication and personnel training. To me the
latter, personnel training wouldn’t be a major challenge as some if not most of
our younger lecturers can be considered as ‘digital natives’ who could be
trained within a short period of time.
institutions may face in the switch to virtual learning, Prof Adeyemi said,
“Regular power supply is a major prerequisite for successful operation of
e-learning platforms, which private universities do invest in; Furthermore,
evidence of applications of technology, relatively comparable to practices in
institutions in developed countries, for service delivery are usually
points of attraction to students and their parents. Low student enrollment in
private institutions is a key point compared to public institutions with
significantly higher number and inadequate, poor and at times obsolete
facilities due to underfunding.”
vice-chancellor, the institution has been putting measures in place to ensure
that its students are no left behind. “The University of Ibadan has just
implemented the result management system (RMS) during the 2018/2019 session and
Senate has been duly informed that the next logical step is the learning
management system, which will require that we upgrade our IT infrastructure
through additional investment in human capacity development and physical
mode institution to the extent that we have 16 of our programmes approved for
distance learning under our highly regarded distance learning centre (DLC).
These will form the low hanging fruit for the implementation of e-learning for
the regular students in UI.
that the institution is participating in the pedagogical leadership for Africa
(PEDAL) project led by the partnership for African social governance research
(PASGR), Nairobi, Kenya with funding from the Department for International
Development (DFID), UK aimed at revolutionising the teaching narrative as a
major integral part of the project is technology-enhanced teaching and
management has held a number of virtual meetings with the agendum being the
deployment of the LMS. “The DLC study texts will be uploaded on the LMS as soon
as we receive them because content development and upgrading of same is
critical to the successful deployment of e-learning.
identify the crop of colleagues to train on the use of the LMS across faculties
as soon as normalcy returns. The students are digital natives and they are very
comfortable with digital learning skills and tools whether on their cell phones
or iPad or laptops. The cost of internet bandwidth may however still be a major
limitation for some of them.
and applications of technology in all the segments of the Nigeria’s education
system is sine qua non to achieve the desired goals of making our system
comparable to global practices.
for governments at all levels ( for public schools and institutions) and
proprietors of private schools and institutions to provide the required funds
to achieve the long term goals of qualitative education.