Minister moots online teaching with uncertainty of schools’ reopening

Adamu Adamu, Nigeria's Minister of Education

Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu is mooting the continuation of teaching and learning in higher educational institutions in the country through the internet.

Since last week, schools had been shut to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) based on the government’s directive.

Unsure of how soon the Coronavirus pandemic will end, Adamu on Thursday held a teleconference with 237 Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts on how to reopen using virtual learning.

The teleconference with the heads of tertiary institutions lasted four and half hours from his home in Abuja.

Those physically present with the minister were the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed; the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Dr Masa’udu Adamu Kazaure; the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi; and the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede, amongst others.

The minister directed all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to activate virtual learning environment to enable students to continue their studies through digital devices.

He said although the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was on strike, the government will do its best to resolve the labour crisis.

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Most Vice-Chancellors of private universities embraced the idea and expressed readiness to reopen because they claimed that they have “top grade virtual learning system”.

Adamu emphasised that the Federal Government could not afford to shut schools for a long time.

He said he called the meeting to find solutions to the challenges posed to the nation’s school calendar by Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Adamu, used the session to inform his audience that he had tested negative to COVID-19.

He added that, “We cannot be held down by COVID-19, we have to deploy all e-platforms to keep our universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other schools open.

“COVID-19 has changed everybody. I am pleading with you to device alternative ways make sure the education of our children will not stop. We have to create virtual learning environment.

“This is the second meeting I am having. All I want is that we should fully engage our students. We are already speaking with the World Bank and UNICEF on how to create platforms for virtual learning classrooms.

“We need to take advantage of technology like the case in other parts of the world. We cannot shut down all schools when we have other means to teach our students.”

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Responding to a question, the Minister said: “As for the strike action, we will try to resolve issues with ASUU to have synergy.

“But the private universities that are not on strike can start with virtual learning while we are finding solutions to issues between the Federal Government and ASUU.”

Although a Vice Chancellor of a second generation university said “the e-platforms cannot replace face-to-face contacts with students,” the Minister said: “This is a period we have to make use of the platforms available, we cannot keep students at home.”

He also asked the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to work out modalities on how primary school pupils and secondary students could learn by using radio and television stations.

“We will work out how we can involve state governments to use radio and television stations. understands that a few tertiary institutions still in session continued their academic activities online irrespective of the government directive on school closures.

Among such are the First Technical University, Ibadan and the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro.

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