The Effects of Coronavirus on Education in Nigeria: The Negative and Positive

The Effects of Coronavirus on Education in Nigeria: The Negative and Positive

The Effects of Coronavirus on Education in Nigeria: The Negative and Positive
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had serious global impact on human life as we know it. Virtually nothing is the same as no sphere of society and human interaction has escaped the direct or ripple effect of the novel coronavirus; from healthcare to aviation to food production and security; from arts to sports to banking to manufacturing to event planning/management and on to education and whatnot. All sectors of life across countries have obviously been affected in one way or the other, and our nation Nigeria is not left out.

Here in Nigeria, one of the sectors which has suffered the most resounding impact of the dreaded virus is the educational sector. COVID-19 has unprecedentedly changed the face of education in Nigeria and of things returning to normal anytime soon, no one is even assured. Stakeholders in the sector (learners, tutors, care givers, parents/guardians, proprietors, researchers, investors as well as government) have had to deal squarely with the realities before their faces, and all hands have been on deck to achieve the safest way out for the sector. Let’s take a brief walk through as we examine the negative impact of this outbreak.

As unfortunate as it may sound to you, dear reader, what you are reading in this piece is nothing short of the truth. The pandemic has, without the least challenge, laid bare the ill-state of the Nigerian educational sector. Under the watch of successive state and federal governments, the sector has been poorly funded and lowly prioritized. The natural outcome of this is poor output.

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Within the last one month, here in Nigeria, learning has moved to the internet. As a result, learning has become a privilege, no longer a right for the average Nigerian. Learning has become the sole activity of the “financially comfortable” and of the rich in society. The average Nigerian child remains at home and has no access to formal learning. This is a major problem as majority of Nigerian families cannot afford the gadgets, data and other required accessories for their children/wards to engage in online learning. Power supply poses even a greater challenge for this process to be successful. A good number of learners also may be battling learning disabilities as they are accustomed to the classroom physical learning process and have not been trained on effective utilization of the tools and procedures for online learning. Truth be told, only about 20% of luxury private schools that can afford this online learning process are up and running. Government schools aren’t even a topic to be mentioned as regards online learning, including higher institutions. Though unpleasant, it is the Nigerian reality. Another serious challenge is the abrupt truncation of learning and of research being carried out by learners.

Not only has learning been disrupted but major examinations like the Common Entrance, WASSCE, NECO, GCE, including the examinations of higher institutions have been suspended indefinitely. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, this had never happened in the history of this nation.

We also cannot ignore the fact that millions of teachers have gone without salaries for months, being unable to fend for themselves and for their families during the period of lockdown and the stay-at-home order issued by the government. This is a very difficult time for the sector and may prove to be even worse if, at the end of this pandemic, experienced and dependable hands have left the system, having gone ahead to seek alternative means of survival.
Furthermore, while the educational sector lacks basic technological aids, decent infrastructure, funding for operations as well as research, it continues to choke under the weight of the economic downturn also caused by the pandemic. The revised national budget for the year 2020 records major cuts to the tune of N320 billion, bringing the budget to N10.27 trillion as against that of N10.59 trillion initially passed by the national assembly. The educational sector bore a large piece of the cut and, as is expected, this does not foretell a future any better than the available for education in Nigeria.

While some students are stuck in the educational window and cannot graduate, others are disillusioned as it concerns the future of education in Nigeria and the fulfillment of their dreams. When schools eventually reopen, a lot of costly adjustments and modifications would be a necessity for all stakeholders, a measure that comes across as unavoidable for all.

While COVID-19 ravages the world at large and, as well, takes its toll on the educational sector, the minds of the vast majority of the world’s population naturally tilts towards the negative impact the virus has wrought on our individual lives and collective modes of living, most prominent of which is our freedom of interaction and socialization in diverse contexts. While we all agree that a lot has changed (which we are not very comfortable with) and mourn the demise of our absolute freedom and smooth-sailing lives, can we all pause for a moment and look deeper to see the wheat in the midst of the chaff? In life, drawing from historical happenings in society, we’ve seen good come out of extreme unpleasant situations and we’ve seen great tribulation engender massive positive change. People have made a fortune over and over again from the ups and downs of life; ideas have been born and given expression and standards have shifted as established methods and systems said yes to new approaches and modifications, all in a bid to mitigate challenges or to even get problems permanently solved. It hasn’t been and wouldn’t be any different with this pandemic: the coronavirus disease 19. Although the damage may be indeed colossal, it will nonetheless engender the emergence of positive change.

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This is a call on the Nigerian people to look into the educational sector, a precious opportunity for reforms and for various streams of pedagogical diversification to be made. While the ills of the system have been exposed, it is not just for the viewing. It is for the doing. Action must be taken in all facets of the sector to put it where it ought to be in this time and age. If the government and indeed all stakeholders deliberately move to do the needful at this time, Nigeria would succeed in refurbishing and handing herself a national treasure that will be celebrated for many years ahead; one we will be grateful to have left for the intellectual benefit of our children.

COVID-19 is here to push the educational sector higher into technological advancement where primary school pupils can be exposed to/and actually use the computer at an early age, prepared for higher fields of endeavour and amazing careers. It is here to make virtual learning work. Honestly, not all lectures in higher institutions must hold in a building. The world is far gone past that point, and it is high time we also moved here in Nigeria. The virus is here to decongest our lecture halls and conference rooms that aren’t even large enough to comfortably host the conferences for which they were originally intended. It is here to change the face of General Studies (GST or GNS) courses in Nigerian universities and to put an end to classes being comparable to the typical congested Nigerian maximum security prisons.

A vast majority of Nigerian parents/guardians who earlier did not subscribe to virtual learning or any Information Technology (IT) related solution for learning have been made to accept I.T. as the way out. People are becoming more aware of the opportunities for better education which the internet offers us. More people have been exposed to the truth that people can stay at home almost all through student-time and actually finish courses and be certified without any/or much physical meetings.

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The hygiene level in schools is another shameful topic. School accommodation has become halls of shame. Typically seen as general property, students tend to only their own spaces. General areas like common rooms, toilets and bathrooms are usually not places to visit. Likewise, rooms are usually full above capacity with additional occupants squatting. If we all must stay healthy, all of this would have to change now that life has taken a different turn. The virus has increased consciousness of personal and environmental hygiene, and as time passes, we hope to see changes made as we move to adjust to living safe with the virus around.

While we make necessary moves to improve the educational sector, we can only hope that with the discovery of a vaccine (which is still not certain), caution is not thrown to the wind and we don’t return to business as usual, as is typical of the vast majority of groups in this part of the world.
Annoying Facts about Studying English in School

Annoying Facts about Studying English in School

Annoying Facts about Studying English in School
Is studying English in school fun? You on the other side of the intellectual/professional divide, have you ever paused to ask yourself this question? Have you? Well, let’s see some annoying facts about studying English, and you’d answer that for yourself.

Contrary to popular opinion, English studies is a really taxing discipline to delve into. The journey comes with a lot of literary texts, academic papers and other inexhaustible materials to read. The tight corner is the limited time available for students within a semester to digest all of these materials. Can you imagine being obligated to study up to 20 or 35 literary texts for only one course? As if that is not enough, the last straw that usually breaks the camel’s back is the tying of these texts together in examination questions. This always spells doom for students who may not have read all recommended texts for the course. The workload is usually massive.

Another annoying fact is that one can work very hard and still fail. One can write so well in examinations and still not succeed. English Studies is not for hard workers. It’s for smart workers. The quality of one’s study technique would determine how each semester goes.

Deriving meaning from poems that seem meaningless to you is another really annoying experience that English students face. The poem analysis process and methods aren’t the favourite part of the work for many students. Overtime, it has been observed that a larger percentage of students wish they could do away with this third genre of literature. The ability to accurately identify and deal with lots of symbols and images hidden in literary works that many people can’t see is a requirement. As a student of English, a closed mind would drown you. There are really no formulae here so one has to be open-minded and thorough. Sometimes, it feels like being trapped in the bramble, trying to find one’s way out. This is the lowest point for most English students.

It is also a very annoying fact that rapt payment of attention to details, smartness, proactiveness and the likes are requirements. Non-negotiable. These are attributes that many people build consciously under hard weather but English students have just little or even no time to build. The need for these attributes becomes clear to students immediately they take up the course and if they are not able to settle in on time, they start on a faulty foundation.

Furthermore, studying certain strange and overwhelming courses can also be truly frustrating. Few of these generally dreaded courses include: Chaucer to Milton, Neo-classical to Present, Advanced English Syntax, Advanced Phonology, etc. The syntax tree diagram and Noam Chomsky’s TGG are a matter for another day.

The oral English/transcription dilemma is another huge and annoying one for students of English. While this is an integral part of the study, many students are usually frustrated by it. Meanwhile, learning oral English or transcribing does not necessarily guaranty a change of accent. That demands even more serious personal work on the part of the student.

Another angle is that as an English scholar, conversations with some persons become irritating as you tend to pay more attention to their errors. This interrupts the flow of information and it’s usually involuntary.

As an English scholar, you suddenly possess some form of linguistic super powers. People expect you to automatically know every word and its meaning, synonyms, antonyms and all. High demand is placed on you, especially in a setting like ours where English is a second language and a lot of persons are only trying to get along with peripheral knowledge of the language and its rules, in a bid to communicate across language barrier points. Errors from English scholars become forbidden; a taboo.

Last but not the least, no one really rejoices in English department until results are actually out. This is one part that cuts across all levels and cadres of students in the department. English can shock you. So, everyone keeps calm until they are sure of where they stand at every point in time. This is another annoying fact about studying English. Although not much is said about it in linguistic scholarly circles, every English scholar goes through this.
5 Reasons Why Most English Undergraduates Graduate with Low Grades Despite Studying Hard

5 Reasons Why Most English Undergraduates Graduate with Low Grades Despite Studying Hard

It is always shocking to see English students graduate with poor grades despite working indefatigably to earn good grades. As regards this issue, it's never a good idea to blame their lecturers because the fault is entirely that of the students.

Studying English in any Nigerian university requires smartness. The slogan is WORK SMART, not work hard. Unlike the smart ones, those who worked hard made the following errors:

1. They were busy trying to read all literary texts given to them.

What makes you think you can read over 60 literary texts given to you by your lecturers in 12 or 13 weeks without having problems in your language courses? Time will definitely fail you!

If you must succeed in English department, you must know what text to read. Read some, and get detailed summaries (online) for others. Summaries do us a lot of good.

2. They fail to present their essays properly

In English department, proper presentation of materials when answering a question is necessary for passing. You may get the correct answer to a question, but if your answer is not articulated, you may not get full marks.

In other words, you must be a good writer to earn good grades in English department. This is one thing you must learn to do effortlessly.

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3. They didn't study with open minds

Many English students study with closed minds. An open mind is needed to succeed in the department. The course needs one's mind to be open, flexible and creative.

Don't be too comfortable with your own knowledge or with what your lecturer has taught you in class. Get novel ideas from people, go beyond classroom lectures to know more, and creatively merge these ideas to form unique contents.

4. They failed to pay attention to details

70% of English lecturers indirectly tell their students in lecture rooms the type of questions they should expect in their exams and how to answer them. It takes only a smart student to understand such implicit message and prepare ahead of time.

If you are not smart enough to understand this message, you should be wise enough to ask your senior colleagues about how your lecturers operate their likes and dislikes with regard to exams.

5. They studied without past questions

Many English students prepare for a course without making reference its past questions. Take it or leave it, past questions are beautiful guides. They prepare your mind on what to expect in a particular course, especially when that course is being taught by the same lecturer.

After reading for a particular course, try to answer the past questions of that course until you are satisfied. You will be happy to see your pen move with ease on your paper should any of these past questions appear in an exam.

One of the annoying facts of studying English in school is making a poor grade in a course you feel you have written well.

Don't you think one of the aforementioned reasons is the cause? I graduated with a CGPA of 4.08 from the Department of English and Literary Studies, Niger Delta University. I won't say I worked hard; I worked smart instead.

I urge you to work smart too. Understand the English department, and you shall prosper!

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