COVID-19: Youth Education in the Pandemic Period

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Since Nigeria’s index case was reported on the 27th of February, 2020 (sequel to the arrival of the man from Italy through Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos), things have not been the same. Series of events have been set in motion changing, in the process, the way things are done: a deeper understanding of our society and a more poignant perception of human relations in the world we live in.

It is true that Nigerian authorities knew of the Novel Corona Virus which had been ravaging China, Europe and America and many more since December 2019 long before the index case. Though Nigerians had offical information that sufficient preemptive measures had been taken at the nation’s entry points— notably airport, seaport and land borders, their confidence in extant protection against the monster was not from governmental assurance. Rather, it was from the shared belief (as at that time) that the tropical sun was a divine invincible armour against the dreaded enemy. Today, with a daily announcement of new COVID-19 cases across most states of the Federation, a monumental mockery of governmental early preemptive actions have been established. So also is a demystification of 100% protection from tropical climate.

As we write this piece, schools from nursery to tertiary level have been closed down in Nigeria. Places of worship (especially churches and mosques), markets, banks and government offices are all in a state of either partial or full inertia. Finding individuals or corporate organisations completely untouched by the pandemic is, indeed, very rare. What with everyone being enjoined to obey COVID-19 rules: Maintain social distancing; wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly; use face masks especially in public places; use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth etc. Now, erstwhile friends,relations and neighbours are suspicious of one another since some cases have been declared asymptomatic from testing-positive stage to quarantine-stage, through management of opportunistic diseases to discharge from quarantine after testing negative.

In all the foregoing, the concern of this writer is the effect on youths, the value for time, the likely emergence of a new behavioural trend in interpersonal relationship and limiting losses that might be significantly irretrievable.

Good parenting injunctions demand that parents monitor their wards constantly to mould their personality/conduct. Busy parents now have rare opportunity to put their children under close monitoring—– being forced to stay together for unusually longer period as they are. Does s/he spend time positively by reading/studying, doing household chores, gardening, taking care of livestock, training younger ones, discussing issues or assisting others? Or does s/he prefer spending this seemingly ‘free’ period staying longer in bed, watching television/home videos, fiddling with mobile telephone sets all the time or arguing extensively about inconsquential matters with others? The disparity between the first set of examples and the second scarcely need elucidating for good parents who know that the minutest indicator of negative tendencies must not be ignored. In fact, it is patently an abdication of responsibilty to assume — even for an adolescent— that erratic negatively inclined behaviour is just a passing phase. As the African saying goes: A child is never too old before his/her parents.

This COVID-19 pandemic period has, more than ever before, highlighted the the imperative of online learning and benefits of the digital age. But it has also served to highlight the huge inequality of youths to access e-learning. As the government instructs Vice-Chancellors of universities, rectors of polytechnics and other tertiary institutions to commence presentation of lectures through e-learning portals to their students, not a few Nigerians wondered what percentage of over 1.5 million students in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions have the financial wherewithal to access such lectures from the confine of their individual homes where the major domestic concern is feeding and hopeless expectation of governmental palliative.

Policy makers must come clean when making recommendations or attempting provision of solutions to current challenges. Solutions must be based on empirical evidence of what is feasible. Doing otherwise is acting like the proverbial ostrich that hides its head in the sand with the whole body exposed. It is not too late to carry out a baseline survey of the challenges of provision of e-learning or any other challenge for that matter. Necessary facility can then be put in place or enhanced. This should then be followed up with a massive awareness creation among prospective beneficiaries and/stakeholders. Finally, an effective monitoring and evaluation plan must be put in place to ensure the success of such a programme. By so doing, no policy maker will be inadvertently adjudged by history of creating a society of youths polarised by access to unequal opportunities.

4 comments on “COVID-19: Youth Education in the Pandemic Period

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    • May 30, 2020 at 8:28 am

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    • September 27, 2021 at 5:34 pm

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    • October 12, 2021 at 10:45 am

    Thanks so much.

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    • March 4, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    Great article thanks!

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