ASUU faults proposed virtual learning in nation’s tertiary institutions
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared that the nation’s tertiary institutions are not prepared for virtual learning, saying poor infrastructure, inadequate funding and lack of requisite skills make it impossible. ASUU reminded the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, that e-learning was different from computer vending and supplies. During a meeting with vice-chancellors, rectors and provosts, Adamu had urged them to deploy all e-platforms to keep tertiary institutions and other schools open. He said the ministry was already discussing with the World Bank and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on how to create platforms for virtual learning classrooms.
But ASUU in a document titled, “The Directive by the Minister of Education That Tertiary Institutions Should Resume the Session Through Online Teaching,” issued by the University of Ibadan (UI) Publicity Committee, insisted that virtual learning was impossible in Nigeria’s institutions. “E-learning is not as simple as computerisation, supplying computers and accessories or simply connecting institutions to the Internet. It is important to break what e-learning involves down to its constituent parts.
“This is necessary to avoid leaving anyone in doubt that the minister is either engaged in a political gimmick or that he is not well informed about the situation in the sector over which he presides,” it said. Faulting Adamu, ASUU further noted, “It cannot be established by the mere ministerial directive and bureaucratic fiat, but through careful and detailed planning, funding and training by those involved. None of these have been done in Nigeria.
“There is no Nigerian university that operates any form or model of e-learning because of poor Internet access, high bandwidth costs and irregular power supply. On what infrastructure does the minister expect the online delivery to run?” In a document released by the UI chapter and made available to The Guardian, ASUU alleged that over the years, governments, in collaboration with some corrupt vice-chancellors had rejected smartboards on universities, which are now largely used as markerboards because they are not Internet-enabled and have no electricity to power them.
It added that the facilities in universities have become generator farms with attendant noise pollution in an attempt to maintain some degree of services. “What does the minister expect to happen to change the entrenched degenerative situation?” ASUU queried. The union stressed that online learning depended on an effective library system, with online resources and seamless access from across the globe insisting, “No Nigerian library, including the national library, has a semblance of a kindergarten library in serious countries.”