‘Digital infrastructure, capacity training imperative for sector’s development’
Stakeholders in the education sector have harped on the need for more investment in capacity training for teachers, formulation of digital learning policy and provision of digital infrastructure to build a resilient educational system that could help mitigate learning losses occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic or any other disruptions.
This formed the thrust of the virtual roundtable for the June edition of Edtech Monday moderated by a social engineering practitioner, Joyce Daniel, which featured panellists such as the Chief Executive Officer, Solve Education, Oladimeji Ojo, Education Manager, UNICEF Nigeria, Rudra Sahoo and Human focused learning designer, Henry Ogundolire.
Sahoo, who spoke on the theme: ‘Harnessing the power of technology to create resilient education system,’ noted that the intervention of UNICEF in Nigeria’s education system through technology has contributed greatly to reducing learning losses caused by the COVID-19 hit.
He disclosed that the organisation had launched the Nigeria learning passport – a learning management system for school children in both primary and secondary schools to support Federal and State Governments at a time when many could not access learning due to school closure.
The UNICEF Education Officer, who specialises in monitoring the process of learning and psychometric analysis with a focus on improving children’s learning outcomes, said the agency had trained about 59,000 teachers with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capacity skills to enable them to integrate the best technology in the classroom.
Also speaking, Ojo noted that despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, his organisation encouraged learning by providing incentives for learners.
Beyond technology, Ojo said, motivation, proper mindset, capacity training and the right infrastructure are keys to building resilience in the sector, to prevent learning losses in the event of any COVID-19 disruption.
Ogundolire, on his part, said there are different roles technology can play in ensuring that learning losses are mitigated amid disruption, provided stakeholders understand what the focus of learning is all about.
There appears no end in sight to the strike by university teachers as the national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said they are yet to hear from the government after meeting with Prof. Nimi Briggs’s renegotiation committee.
The committee is expected to review the draft proposed 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement and renegotiate with all the striking unions.
Since April 2022, the Briggs renegotiation committee had been meeting with the unions to address the thorny issues in the 2009 agreement.
Osodeke in an interview said they are yet to hear from the Federal Government on the reports of the meeting had so far.
He said: “Since our meeting with the Briggs committee, the government has not called us for any feedback. All the committee told us was that they are waiting for their principal to respond, that once the Federal Government responds, they will get back to us.”
Osodeke said they had not gotten the invitation for another meeting and nothing is happening for now.
He however lamented that this was the situation since May 2021, the same way they told us they were waiting for the FG in May 2021 and yet no result.’
Similarly, the national president, of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Ibrahim Mohammed, said all they have done were appraisals and reviews, while the Briggs committee said its reports to the Federal Government for the next line of action.
While ASUU commenced strike on February 14, SSANU’s strike started with a warning strike of two weeks, which commenced on March 27.
Some of the demands of SSANU include the inconsistent issue of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), unpaid earned allowances, delay in the renegotiation of FGN, NASU, and SSANU agreements, and non-payment of minimum wage arrears.
Others include neglect and poor funding of state universities, non-payment of retirement benefits to outgoing members of the unions, and usurpation of the headship of non-teaching units in clear violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures, among others.
ASUU commenced its ongoing strike on February 14, 2022, after the Federal Government refused to meet some of its demands, including the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of Universities Transparency and Accountability System (UTAS) for payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.