Sequel to the pandemic state of the world right now, we are evidently aware that almost everywhere is grounded, from the economic sector to the religious sector and most especially the education sector. Virtually, all Nigerians are negatively affected by this, from the primary school pupils who couldn’t go to their neigbourhing schools, to the final year secondary school students who couldn’t attend school tutorials due to the shutdown of their schools, the higher institution students ranging from the ones in colleges, polytechnics and universities are stuck at home that they might get affected or infected by the COVID-19 virus.
Thereupon, this shutoff of schools and education division is causing a great havoc to the growth of students and the education itself. Howbeit, Nigeria education system cannot conceivably use or rely on the alternative online education expedient. One would be shock that inspite of the constant innovative approaches adopted by education instructors in western world, traditional approaches to teaching and assessments in Nigeria tertiary institutions have constantly been practiced. Most institutions are not able to use it, not to talk of fully utilizing the online learning and getting it advantages. Hardly can we see a federal owned school who can vaunt of an established online system, except for few private institutions who uses them on rare occasions—consequently, it has become this Dunkirk concern for the stakeholders on the needs to addressing the footing of e-learning in our higher institutions before we are finally overwhelmed by the consequences.
It’s quite understandable that many scholars defines online learning dubbed as e-learning as the learning that occurs at the computer. The learning with the computer simply means online knowledge acquisition through the internet ooffline through CD-ROM, etc. The online requires the use of browsers such as Internet and other accomplices. It can come in form of Audio, Visual, and Audio/Visual. But in this paper, it means browsers-based technology.
The development of e-learning in Nigeria could be obviously traced back to the development of telecommunication which began in 1886 when e-cable connections was established by the colonial masters between Lagos and the colonial office in London to transmit information and receive feedback. By 1893, all government offices in Lagos were provided with telephone service for easy communication, feedback and easy access and later all other parts of the country were provided with telephone services.
Apparently, an lot of incessant changes have been witnessed in the telecommunication sector since 1886. It was believed that the dispensation of telecommunication services was originally monopolized by the Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) until sometimes in 90’s when the federal government of Nigeria commenced the liberalization policy of telecommunication industry. The growth spreads so wide from Mtel(NITEL), Econet (Airtel), MTN and Communication Investment Limited were initially licensed to provide General System for Mobile Services which was later given to Globacom (Glo) Nigeria, as they won the bid. Internet sector wasn’t left out. As more companies were licensed to offer internet services in various towns and cities in the country. While many were empowered to provide VSAT solution and other telecom value added services. Today, the country can boast of numerous Internet service providers and many got connected to the information super-highway, through broadband VSAT connection see.
According to a Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, it stated the commonest type of e-learning adopted is in form of lectures note on CD-ROM which can be played as at when the learners desires. The challenge of this method is that the numbers of students per computer in which these facilities are available are un-interactive as compared to when lectures are been received in the classroom. Some institutions of both federal, state and private adopted the use of intranet facilities, which is however not well maintained because of incessant power problem and high cost of running generating set institutions such as RECTAS, federal School of Surveying, Oyo, University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife and even National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) among others has the facilities for e-learning, albeit there other counterparts in Bowen, Babcock, and Covenant c University enjoy at least a taste of e-learning system.
Today, it’s quite evident that the Nigerian students are barely enjoying anything technological. Little did we know why the Academic Staff of University Union (ASUU), emphatically berates and challenged the directive of the minister of education, when he annouced that University should commence the e-learning programme. The Union then emphatically replied that “There is no Nigerian University today that is operating any form or model of E-learning because of poor internet access, high bandwidth costs and irregular pours apply.”
It’s thus glaring that the Nigerian students are denied the benefits of online learning such as significant reduction or elimination of costs associated with instructor fees and materials. Online learning helps in reduction of learning time and the amount of time students will spend in classes, it also enhances the an Increase retention by students and enhanced hands-on application to the work over traditional training methods. Short videos or hands-on exercises offer practice and assessment activities designed to confirm that a learner has mastered the performance objectives of the course or lessons and lot other benefits. Online learning can also cost less due to a variety of reasons. For instance, there is no cost for storage. Assorted costs that are related to transport, such as fuel, parking, car maintenance, and public transportation costs don’t affect students.
It also aids documentations, that all the information that the students will need will be safely stored in an online database. This includes things like live discussion documents, training materials and emails. This means that if there’s ever anything that needs to be clarified, the student will be able to access these documents fast, saving valuable time.
It’s infuriating that before the arrival of Covid-19, that there is no single University in Nigeria today that operates a mix-mode system; this is when students have the option to take courses online or face to face. To seek to transit therefore to online delivery will amount to taking a plunge. And also that we can only say we run a blended learning system through the distance learning programmes run by the NOUN, and few other dual mode,universities. It’s however provoking that even at this, the ratings are not high that it’s basically disguised as a part time programme.
The Nigeria education system encounters so much problem in utilising the e-learning system. Consequently, in the researches made the International Journal of Education Technology in higher institution, they looked at the problems and prospects of e-learning in curriculum development and implementation in secondary schools in Ondo State of Nigeria. Specifically, they examined the availability of e-learning tools for curriculum implementation, the extent to which it was applied by teachers, strategies and prospects of e-learning in secondary schools. The finding revealed that there were shortages of e-learning tools and the few ones used were not adequately used. Similarly, they extended their research and investigated the challenges and prospects of e-learning at the National Open University of Nigeria and while the study recognized that e-learning influences students’ ICT competence, it found that the major challenges included lack of enough computers, shortage of internet facilities, students’ lack of access to e-learning facilities and tools, high cost of software and erratic power.
Wherefore, the e-learning system cannot survive if there is inequality of access to the technology itself by all the Nigerian students students. It’s obvious that the cost of a Personal Computer (PC) and Laptop are still very high in Nigeria considering the income level of an average worker in the country. Many Nigerian students will not be able to afford to purchase one, as we have the larger number of the less privileged Nigerians in the public Universities. Another challenge that may affect the existence of e-learning also is the high cost of Internet connectivity, the cost of accessing internet is still very high in this part of our region, where will a student whose father cannot feed him the three course meal get the money to fund the data that is as high as $8/Kbps?
Other problems might also come from the software and license cost, It is very expensive to get some of the soft wares because they are not originally developed in Nigeria. The Maintenance and Technical problems also exists, as there are few technical staff to maintain the system, this make it very expensive for the school that has a PC to maintain when a technical problem is noticed. And also electricity which is a constant and perennial problem in Nigeria. The instability and incessant problems are overhunting.
One cannot exhaust the quagmire that will show face if there will be an established online learning system from the computer technology illiteracy among the students, to the cost of acquiring installing the gadget required for e-learning. Wherefore, it’s imperative for the federal government of Nigeria should increase the budget cut for education and also equally declare a state of emergency on Nigeria educational system, whereby proper attention can be given to it. Consequently, the accreditation team of the National University Commission (NUC) as well as the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) should revise the syllabus of the Nigerian University/polytechnics to include virtual courses that will be internet based. The Government should provide adequate info-tech facilities to the institutions such as a reliable library system that is the Online learning depends critically on an effective library system with online resources and seamless access.
In conclusion, the world is moving so swift. The contemporary 21st century comes with an highly rated and consequential tool of survival, which is technology. The Nigeria country must catch up with it, most especially it’s education sector. It’s thus the duty of the government, the parent and the student ensuring that we blend with e-learning, not only during this Covid-19 period, but beyond. The future belongs to the technologically oriented ones that will raise the banners and emblems of development.
Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun writes from University of Ibadan