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COVID-19, pupils and ICT learning

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THE recent outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has served as an eye-opener to schools on more effective ways of learning. The outbreak of the virus brought about an immediate lockdown of schools, churches and some other institutions in Nigeria and other parts of the world as a means to help control the spread of the virus. It therefore brought to a premature end, the activities of most schools in the country, of which most of them were still writing their second term examinations.

Unlike the expectations of many, the virus kept spreading, as the rate of death and confirmed cases kept increasing, thus, bringing about the repeated extension of the lockdown which is partly still on to date. This then made the Anambra State Government, as a result of its love and commitment towards the continuous enhancement of the states’ educational standard, to start an on-line teaching for students and pupils on ABS FM Radio.

Sequel to that, most schools especially the private ones, started to deploy more means for effective teaching, as the one done on the radio station, as good as it was, could not cover schemes of all students in the state, as their schemes differ due to their different levels in academics.

Therefore, some schools created WhatsApp groups for the students in their school, mostly according to their classes, while some other ones made audio-video discs containing series of lessons which the pupils could listen to, as a means to keep them busy during the lockdown. And with time, several government owned schools joined in the line, probably having observed the progress made by the privatised ones.

Even though the methods of teaching may not really be the best compared to the physical lectures the students received in their classes; where they could both,see their teachers, possibly touch them and ask them questions where they had problems in understanding; yet, it could be counted as a step forward to their dreams while growing up as kids; when they lived in the world of fantasy, when they felt that things could be just the way they wanted it.

 As a student, i still recall those days when we wished we would be at home with a Laptop/Computer set, receive our lessons, copy our notes, do and submit our assignments on-line. Although the dreams then were majorly characterised by our childishness and unwillingness to go to school , it is important to note that there are other institutions both within and outside the state, where modern technologies are used for academic purposes.

But the question is this: Are our schools actually up to the standards of using these technologies alone as a means of teaching, especially for these young ones knowing there level of maturity? For example, because of the trying times we are in, a lot of parents who are not used to giving out their phones to their kids, are compelled to do so and some of these lads get to use the phone for other purposes, such as playing games and other things without the knowledge of their parents, which is what they might have been avoiding.

It is also obvious that not all these students are able to follow this processes of learning due to one reason or the other; as some do not have the devices required to follow these teaching on-line. Even the ones who follow the teaching with their parents’ phones(for the ones using WhatsApp), may not always have their parents around for them to partake in the teaching on-line regularly, as the parents would most times, take their phones to work, hence, they would need  phones of their own in order to follow the e-learning process.

And unfortunately, not all parents have the financial ability to buy these devices required for their children to follow the teaching on net, as you would not expect a parent who finds it difficult on a normal ground to feed his/her family and get to perform other responsibilities, to go to the market to purchase a smart phone for their children at such a period as this where the least of the smart phones in stock is nothing less than N30,000; an amount possibly three or four times their earning in a month, if not more.

And already, some of these schools are currently writing their 3rd term examinations.  One wouldn’t know what they expect those who are unable to follow both their teachings and examinations to do. Are they going to promote those who were fortunate enough to follow the teachings and examinations and make the unfortunate ones repeat classes? Or is it a case of “Shall us because of the one, forfeit the many?”

Speaking on the the situation, a student of Igwebuike Grammar school, Awka, Chukwubuikem Francis, who has been following their schools on-line teaching on WhatsApp, commended the system of learning, saying that it has been good that they receive their lessons almost every day of the week, which comprises both the notes and the explanation of it in form of audio. He further expressed his regret that they are unable to ask questions in the group, as only the ‘admins’ of the WhatsApp group are able to post in the group, which makes it look didactic.

 Another student, also from Igwebuike Grammar School, Chinwuba Augustine said he was contented with the way the group is being run, saying that “if the students were given the opportunity to send messages in the group, they will abuse it or go contrary to the purpose of creating the group.”

But the truth is this; regardless of all efforts, kids will still be kids, but those who know the value of education and what they are doing would certainly be helped by the new methods of learning, which have helped a lot of students who may not have the privilege of attending extra-moral lessons or have other means of learning as a means of increasing their knowledge beyond what they already know during this period of the lockdown. It is strongly believed that education being the bedrock of the society should be given a paramount concern, as from there comes the future of our society and so any idea geared towards greater improvement of the education sector should be embraced by all. There should be provision for improvement where the need arises.

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