The Covid-19 pandemic has put 1.2 million children out of school globally. According to UNESCO, kids from vulnerable and marginalized groups are the most impacted by school closures.
The UN organization says that compensating for the loss of learning will require the safe return of kids to school where possible and the provision of quality learning resources for those learning out of school.
In Nigeria, to make up for school disruptions caused by covid, especially in their public schools, the country invested in e-learning platforms where teaching and learning can continue out of school or remotely as long as students can access the internet.
Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education launched a free e-learning website, inspire.education.gov.ng, for all levels of education and to facilitate teaching and learning remotely on digital platforms. The ministry says that the website could accommodate two million e-learners at once.
The government also invested N954 million or around USD 2.5 million for satellite-based education system equipment in primary schools across the country to support children’s e-learning.
But despite the government’s investment in an e-learning platform, barriers exist for both students – to make the most of remote or digital learning and for teachers to effectively use the new technology.
The article “Poor Infrastructure, Electricity, Others Hampering Effectiveness Of e-Learning” says that despite significant investments in e-learning, “the unstable and epileptic power supply in the country” will not make it feasible to have a “seamless” e-learning program to run effectively in primary schools.
Computer devices used in virtual learning will require a constant and steady power supply to be adequate. The article says that “irregular power supply denies students from properly utilizing the already free installed wireless connection in their various schools.”
Aside from the country’s erratic power supply, the inadequate infrastructure and the ill-readiness of the students and teachers in using digital technology can hinder teaching and learning.
Despite expanding internet connectivity worldwide, sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria, still struggles with poor internet infrastructure and coverage, which is crucial for e-learning to succeed. At 40%, the county’s mobile broadband installation lags behind the global average rate of 56%. At the same time, the country has the highest cost of the internet worldwide, ranking at 43.
Unstable power, poor internet infrastructure, lack of training and skills of teachers to utilize digital technology, high internet cost, lack of internet access in remote places, with low-income families not being able to provide digital devices to their kids – are factors that serve as stumbling blocks for e-learning to succeed in Nigeria, particularly in public schools and universities.
The country’s IT experts and education stakeholders would like to see the government address these issues to encourage the widespread adoption and effectiveness of e-learning systems in the country.
The investment of the Nigeria Government in e-learning needs to be acknowledged, but like so much in the field of infrastructure investment, more investment and implementation are required.