COVID-19 Exposes Lack of ICT Policy in Nigeria’s Education System

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragile state of Nigeria’s education system. A system which the Guardian Nigeria describes as “messy,” one that “lacks information and communications technology (ICT) ingredients, leaving the system to churn out half-baked graduates.”

They write that with the continued closure of schools in an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic – children are now going to be severely disadvantaged, and their families will suffer because of the interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems, and consequent economic cost to families who could not work.

Today, the distinctive rise of e-learning had made education change drastically – teaching can be undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. But in Nigeria, only those in major cities, those of higher socioeconomic positions, and the intrepid can afford e-learning especially with epileptic public power supply and high cost of Internet connectivity. Most people in rural areas have never seen or touched a computer.

Now, Save The Children, an NGO organisation which invests in childhood urges governments and communities to act to ensure that millions of vulnerable children do not lose out on their education as schools close their gates. But Nigeria remains in a conundrum because of several years of neglect and lack of investment in the educational system.

For instance, the Guardian writes, despite repeated calls to raise a new generation of ICT-driven graduates, Nigerian leaders have paid no attention to the complete makeover of the school curriculum.

Most Nigerian graduates leave institutions of higher learning without even touching a computer, a highly disturbing fact in the current techno-crazed world, leaving them without requisite skills to integrate into the ICT-driven business environment.

Reasons for this include blights such as underfunding, population explosion, and the quantity and quality of available teaching staff. 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.

In teaching itself, most school teachers from primary till up to tertiary institutes also lack the necessary skills to utilize technology once implemented in the curriculum. The traditional chalk and duster approach still dominates in school dogma.

The Guardian wonders if the current COVID-19 crisis will serve as the impetus to jolt the educational sector awake. Putting ICT into education in any meaningful way will involve developing an effective curriculum that includes communications, numeracy, information technology, and social skills units, with specific, specialized teaching of each. As well as the attraction and retention of qualified and experienced ICT personnel.

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.

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