The Federal Government has clarified that the online learning programme introduced for schools in response to COVID-19 pandemic is based on the approved curriculum by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who made the clarification in Abuja while responding to questions at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 also urged parents to help by ensuring that their children benefit from the learning opportunities provided by the initiative.
The closure of schools nationwide by the Federal Government as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has put over 41 million children in basic education level in Nigeria at learning risk.
This necessitated the adoption of the online learning by the Federal Ministry of Education, being coordinated by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in conjunction with the States Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) to deliver lessons to primary and secondary school children at the comfort of their homes.
The Minister of State for Education explained that while timetable for online classes in all the states of the federation has been developed, the ministry will also upload on its webpage content-appropriate strategies and content for continuous learning that will allow pupils, teachers and schools to utilize flexible and remote or home-based learning, including homework/assignments, reading material, radio, TV, online content and internet-based learning.
Just as some stakeholders have raised concerns about reaching the pupils in rural areas, Nwajiuba admitted that this was a major challenge in adopting virtual learning in Nigeria, saying, however, that the ministry is exploring the use of the Nigerian Television Authority and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria to bridge the gap.
He further explained that the online learning could be real time or the resources could be downloaded and kept to learn at one’s pace.
Nwajiuba said: “All parents should please, help us. At the point where we are now, we are asking that students can learn online. We have made a lot of provisions for that. At the Ministry of Education, the Directorate of ICT has opened a portal and in conjunction with UBEC, as a coordinating agency.
“Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, the Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono, and the operators in the ministry agreed that UBEC will anchor an alliance with all the SUBEBs in all the states that we fund, to buy into a programming.
“What is happening now is that about 14 states have already commenced learning via different channels that are available in their states, mostly radio and local TV.
“What they are running is an approved NERDC curriculum. This is ongoing at the moment. Not all the states have started the programme, but Anambra, Lagos, among others with programming time.
“We believe that those who are in private primary, secondary schools are already doing something like that. We are also available to them to key into the things that we have. All our platforms are available to them. From the national here, every resource we have is available to everybody.
“We are also looking at what is required at the level of tertiary education. Most private universities already have something of online platforms with which they learn. We are also making resources available to assist them.”
He commended all those who have contributed in one way or the other, from content providers to online networking agencies, platform providers – MTN, Glo, 9-Mobile and Airtel.
He said, “Everybody is throwing whatever they have at us and we are willing to absorb all of that to make them available to address any form of limitation anyone is having.”