While the stay-home order lasts in Nigeria, there is evidence of attempted distance education in less than 18% of the geographical coverage of the country. What this implies is that there is no evidence of performance in this regard in the North excepting the emerging arrangement for students living in some of the Boko Haram terrorized territories of the Northeast where there are significant interventions by UNICEF, Save the Children and others working on Education in Emergencies, as well as some occasional instructional radio broadcasts facilitated by Kwara State Government in the North-Central geographical zone. As regards the Southeastern zone, Aside in Abia and Enugu States, there is little evidence of instructional broadcasts. In the South-South however, students in Delta State have received some instructional attention through distance learning.
In the Southwest, Lagos State only keyed into an existing TV/Radio broadcast arrangements on Wazobia Radio/TV and Naija FM through the South Saharan Social Development Organization. Ogun State made some diligent effort through its Broadcast Corporartion and Osun State too made some attempt. Oyo State seems outstanding having offered distance education at different times on four channels namely Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Oke Ogun FM, Oluyole FM, and Ajilete FM. Among the unique features of the Oyo State model are perceived political wander-lust and the characterization of the distance learning arrangement as ‘Education in Emergency and E-Learning Solution’ delivered through the State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, in collaboration with Education Advancement Center. These State Governments deserve plaudits for their distance learning initiatives, as all but two of them on several occasions failed to broadcast the programmes at the stipulated time and rather did so outside the publicized schedule.
The broadcasts in question were regular instructional recordings whereas COVID-19 is an emergency that requires a departure from the traditional Bloom’s taxonomy which is characteristically embraced by curriculum developers and classroom teachers in pursuing the attainment of educational objectives under normal circumstances. David Edwards recently argues that during pandemics, Maslow’s hierarchy is accorded a consideration before Bloom’s taxonomy. Accordingly, the Nigerian models cited above are oblivious of the pedagogical implication of “Maslow before Bloom” which is an evidence-based direction for decisions in designing a curriculum-pedagogy for COVID-19 in Nigeria. Considerations to address include issues of food, protection, social isolation, amount of support, access to technology, parents’/caregiver’s presence, substance issues, economic impact, and mental health.
The main question at present concerns what matters most for any learning to take place. This includes ensuring that children especially the most vulnerable ones are well fed the way they are fed in school before the COVID. What this implies is that palliatives would be provided for parents to take good care of the school children. Such palliatives as will be provided will also cover some basic needs of the family especially the most vulnerable. Keeping parents safe and secure is a way of preparing students for learning. Who do we think is watching those TV or listening to those Radio teaching or lessons?
What the State Governments should do is to keep alive an instructional communication channel with students through the Ministry of Education or Education Management Boards. The Education authorities are to partner with parents in facilitating their children’s learning. Consequently, parents are guided while their children are instructed and whenever Instructional Radio or Pedagogical Television will be involved, parents, their children and the education authorities will be involved in decision-making.
It is imperative for the governments to increase funding on education. The need for swift action to meet unprecedented needs of a pandemic of this nature requires a high technical capacity in various sectors especially education. For instance, the challenge of peculiarity-based emergency in such a crisis situation requires technical capacity building in teacher education and curriculum development for specific purposes. Donor agencies and development partners have a significant role to play in this regard through bilateral and multilateral channels. Also, there is need for a careful review of teacher education curriculum in Nigerian universities especially for the postgraduate level where the curriculum and pedagogy sub-components require enrichment. Only teachers with excellent training can be promptly retrained to act swiftly in an unprecedented emergency like COVID-19. The governments should not expect a miracle from an underfunded system, ill-equipped teacher or academically bankrupt university lecturer.
Frameworks consistent with Education in Emergencies as implemented in countries where wars, refugee crises, natural disasters or epidemics had disrupted learning should be developed. In this regard, I embrace the cynic’s perspective offered by Allison Anderson, that the Coronavirus is surely not going to be the last pandemic that will threaten school continuity. Accordingly, I offer the propositions in the foregoing as part of emergency preparedness plans for not only school-based prevention of pandemics but also swift response with technical interventions potentially preventive of disruptions during emergencies. A good government should not be caught unprepared!
Saheed Ahmad Rufai (Ph.D Curriculum & Pedagogy), immediate past Dean of Education, Sokoto State University, currently works on Development Education & Peculiarities-Based Curriculum-Pedagogy