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How to move Nigerian education forward amidst COVID-19 – VC



Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, the Vice-Chancellor, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo, says Nigerian education must reflect on and open to revolutionary e-learning system, if the sector is to move forward amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Onimawo stated this on Thursday in Benin as a Guest Lecturer at the first anniversary memorial lecture organised by the University of Benin in honour of the late former Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Emmanuel Emovon.

It was reported that the topic of the lecture is “COVID-19 in a Leap Year: Educational and Economic Matters Arising”.

The vice-chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Igene Fredrick, noted that necessities, sometimes, is the mother of modern invention.

According to him, it is hoped that the new collaboration between the Federal Government and UNICEF will provide the much needed goods to Nigerian education during COVID-19 pandemic through a dynamic online and offline educational and vocational video platform designed especially for the country.

This collaboration, he said, was an excellent opportunity for Nigeria to ensure children continue to learn both during and beyond the pandemic.

“The learning package ensures children can access online bip of purposeful resources organised by their levels.

“It also equips teachers to be collaborators and facilitators of learning rather than just remote instructors,” he said.

The learning tool, he noted, would not only ensure Nigerian students do not miss out their education now, but would also create a system for life-long quality learning for years to come.

He said that the outbreak of the pandemic did not only impact negatively on the education and economic sectors, but exposed education inequality in the country.

“In an attempt to carry out government directive, some schools and teachers alike especially those living in the rural and some urban areas and without power supply as well as the needed technology, are unable to comply with the government directive.

“This challenge affected their adherence to the international accepted standard and measure of impacting knowledge to students in this global pandemic era.”

The don, however, noted that notwithstanding the challenge, Nigerian education would eventually come out stronger because the tertiary institutions were already adjusting to the new realities.

On the economic impact, he said it could be better discussed with a glance at the food security and nutrition situation in the face of COVID-19.

“During the lockdown, businesses were shut; farmers could not sell their produce and those with food reserve suddenly discovered all the food stuffs were exhausted.

“The poor urban dwellers became severely malnourished and those that lived on their daily sales became totally snouted and joined the ultra poor in the society.

“Hunger and malnutrition became another scourge and people were to choose either to die of COVID-19 or hunger,” he said.

He explained that the pandemic, however, offered opportunity for economic discoveries because the crisis accelerated decisions on number of national issues that have impeded Nigeria over the last three years.

He noted that Federal Government policies have the potentials to yield much more investments and inclusive economic growth.

Difference sectors, he added, were made to source for local materials for local production to meet local needs.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Benin, Prof. Lilian Salami, said that the late Emovon was being honoured because of the successes recorded during his tenures in the university and the University of Jos, where he served as a Vice-Chancellor.

Salami regretted that COVID-19 truncated the elaborate plans of the university to bid the late professor, who died on Feb. 18, 2020, a befitting farewell.

She, however, said that the lecture was particularly significant because as a scholar, Emovon illuminated the paths of many science students seeking knowledge through his well researched publications in reputable local and international journals.

According to her, University of Benin always prides itself as a citadel that brings the best out of the people and spares no efforts to reward hard work as well as celebrate models.

Appreciating the organiser of the memorial lecture, Ms Osarumwense Emovon, who spoke on behalf of the family, commended the university for finding her father worthy of honour and remembrance.

She also announced a N100,000 award for best graduating student in Chemistry in the university for 10 years in honour of the late patriarch of Emovon family, beginning from the 2019/2020 academic session.

Usman Aliyu

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