Effect of Covid-19 on the Educational System
Late 2019 the covid-19 (coronavirus) began to spread and continued to spread across the globe. As at March 2020, the situation had become so tense even in Nigeria that the need arose for the government had to begin to enforce lockdowns across states in the country. Churches could no longer hold normal services, markets affected, schools were closed down and people everywhere began to be afraid. It seemed the virus could not be handled and at first, contracting it seemed like a death sentence.
People could not just travel anyhow or as usual because transportation was affected too. Inter-state travels were banned for some time, even the daily petty traders who made their earnings from daily sales could not as so much sell as usual. Many things were disrupted and it did not matter who you were, you had to just maintain care to avoid contracting the virus. Social distancing, hand-washing and use of nose-mask became the norm. The event of the virus which has lingered till now has come to affect the global system and our national system somewhat permanently in certain ways. Companies had to result to virtual meetings and workers working from home, church programmes became virtual and people had to stay indoors.
Impact on education
One of the aspects of our national life that this pandemic has affected seriously is the educational system. In a country like Nigeria where the educational system has not been previously up to expected or required standard, having another serious factor like the covid-19 pandemic coming into play has even caused more harm. Whereas the pandemic cannot be blamed directly on the government within the Nigerian system, the manner in which it is henceforth handled in terms of students returning to schools and things becoming normal again will be of major concern to the average citizen and common man.
How will the effect of covid-19 on the educational system in Nigeria be handled and normalised? While we wait to see the eventuality of the situation education-wise, what are some of the effects that the pandemic has impacted on education here in Nigeria. Of course it is a global issue and countries are yet to recover from it, but considering the importance of education, and the direct closeness of the impact on Nigerian educational system as a Nigerian, it is first appropriate to see what effects it has on the home country for every Nigerian citizen.
School calendar disruption
Talking of all educational levels in Nigeria: primary, secondary, tertiary institutions, the calendar has been disrupted significantly. Strike was even an issue for some tertary institutions before the pandemic came along. It might have been likely that the ASUU strike would have been called off if not for the lingering of this pandemic period. In a way, the ASUU strike has likely been treated as a secondary matter due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Usually the academic calendar of private and public primary and secondary schools are not too disparate, now some private schools have continued their academic calendar using virtual means to reach their students while the public schools are left at the mercy of the exit of the pandemic or the decision of the government, thereby causing a huge difference in the academic calendar for the private and public primary and secondary schools. How that will be properly addressed and normalised is something to look forward to when things get back to normal hopefully. Else it will mean that students in schools that have not adopted the virtual means will be behind their counterparts.
It is also noteworthy to consider the mental depreciation that has been induced in this period of the pandemic owing to the lockdown and closure of schools. Students have been out of school now for a good number of months, and while only a few have resumed recently due to examinations they have to write, the damage that has been done to the progressive development of the students may not be easy to evaluate until when teachers and students return to school. What do you expect of a child that has not entered the four walls of a classroom for about five months? It is very likely that many things that have been taught would have been forgotten, and while the normal thing might be for teachers to pick up from where they left, it will be practically difficult this time around as they will likely have to begin refreshing the memories of the pupils and students on previous knowledge. It is even likely that not only students are affected by this, that teachers are also somehow experiencing some mental depreciation as it concerns academic knowledge and know-how. This is another interesting consequence of this pandemic period to look out for when things get back to normal hopefully. It will take a lot of effort to recondition the students to the school routine and atmosphere and make them ready to learn and take in academic knowledge.
There seem to be a shift in the interest and concentration of youths. While children may be playing away their time except for those going through virtual classes, for which some virtual classes are not even effective. Except for those engaged by their schools, children may just keep playing away their time, for the youths in secondary and tertiary institution, the shift has probably been towards money-making, vocation, and the internet. While these are good things, it probably means that perhaps now many youths believe less in the importance or seriousness of formal education and to have the mind-set that skills, vocation, online know-how in business and the likes are of more importance. It may be difficult to immediately evaluate the impact of this shift, maybe in the days to come the positive and negative impacts of this will be more obviously seen.
Underpreparedness for examinations
Recently students in JSS 3 and SSS 3 have been told to resume school and examinations are being dished out to them. Well, while this may look like a good step forward, the time in which these examinations are administered may not be too encouraging. The question is how many weeks were these students given to be adequately prepared by their teachers for these examinations? Students who have been outside class for the better part of the year, now having to write examinations without proper preparation, the likelihood of mass failure is there except the examination bodies have a way of stepping down on some things to favour the students, else this is another thing that will be an obvious discovery soon. The likelihood of cheating for these examinations is there. In a country where some students on a normal day look for ‘orijo’ and ‘expo’, then cheating in this condition may not be too far-fetched.
Neediness and lack
While civil servants serving under the federal and state governments continue to get their monthly salaries, it is a different story for teachers and workers in private schools. The rate of lack and neediness for this category of workers has been heightened by this pandemic. Imagine the number of private school workers who will have to look elsewhere to make ends meet at these times. The remunerations some of these private school workers receive on a normal day is not even enough to take care of their needs, let alone when they have to grapple with the reality of no payment. How are they expected to cope?
While it is commendable and of cause expected of government to still continue to pay their workers even when they are at home, the government should also try to look into how they can make the teachers work from home, that is teach the students and pupils from home or quickly find a way that the schools can resume so that the students and pupils in public schools will not continue to loose out. This is important so that they can be able to match the payment of salaries with service from their workers.
While some of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic discussed in the article might have been somehow unavoidable, the implications of some of these effects may be quite significant and there will be need for proper attention and strategizing to nip the impacts in the buds.