COVID-19: Introduce national policy on online education, Reps tell FG

The House of Representatives on Tuesday underscored the need for relevant authorities in charge of education in Nigeria to urgently develop a National Policy and Framework for online education for schools at various levels.

The lawmakers said the policy should be developed with the view to salvaging the fate of 1.2 million Nigerian students who are currently out of schools as a result of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

Tribune Online reports that the resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Aniekan Umanah who expressed concern over the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s educational system.

In his lead debate, Hon. Umanah stated that the effect of COVID-19 on the educational sector of the world cannot be overemphasized and Nigeria needs to also adapt to ensure the school children are kept updated educationally.

According to him, there seems to be unpreparedness and lack of depth in the content being provided on-line, on radio and television. He called for an upgrade in the content as Nigerian children are lagging in comparison to their counterparts worldwide.

“The House notes that the outbreak of the coronavirus has altered the educational calendar globally. According to UNESCO, most governments around the world have temporarily closed schools in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus; these nationwide closures are impacting over 72% of the world student population.

“This has brought a significant setback to academic endeavours with far-reaching impacts on more vulnerable and disadvantaged countries developing world such as Nigeria.

“The House further notes that the COVID-19 induced schools closure has kept over 1.2 billion children out classrooms and as a result, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive increase in the use of e-Iearning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms.

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“This sudden event has caused a shift from the classrooms in our nation’s schools, teachers and students have been forced to adjust and adapt to this unplanned and rapid move to online teaching and learning with no structure, training and equipment tools and are faced with inadequate preparations.

“The e-learning approach takes time and a gradual system of learning. Schools and colleges would have to develop a modular structure, database and learning pattern supported with efficient communication and internet backbone.

“The House is aware that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education announced a free e-learning portal intended to create access to online education across the nation, as well as radio and television classrooms.

“But this has remained intentions as reports indicate that this is not working and therefore not serving the desired need of closing the educational gaps, due to lack of instructional design and implementation, lack of cognitive psychology tools to support e-Iearning.

“The House is worried that Nigeria’s low rural internet penetration, lack of preparedness, lack of online educational curricula and un-affordability of necessary learning gadgets, as well as low knowledge and skill, sets present a huge challenge, which may cause a major setback for the educational system and students whom at this time ought to be preparing for various examinations. Faced with the present situation, Nigeria’s educational system is lagging behind by not being functionally awake to the present reality of online education.

“Research shows that the level of online learning and preparedness in Nigeria is about only 10% or less. Hence the urgent need to salvage our already battered educational system that has been further humbled and bruised by the COVlD-19 pandemic,” he lamented.

To this end, the House mandated its Committees on Basic and Tertiary education to ensure compliance.

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