For some months now, schools have been on lockdown as a result of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic and in a bid to keep the academic calender running without any disruption, some schools opted for online teaching.
It was excitement galore for some pupils and students when their schools introduced e-learning after the closure of schools in March nationwide.
For some of them, online teaching is their first experience. For others in elitist schools, it was not their first experience, so it was easy to operate the tools.
In some public schools, pupils take their online teaching via the radio and television provided free by the state government while parents in private schools pay for the service by purchasing data and in some cases new phones or laptops.
Reports nationwide indicate mixed feelings about the e-learning. Some schools have mastered it while others are still struggling to deliver to meet up as a result of the poor handling by teachers who lack knowledge about how to deliver online teaching.
Another major constraint is the poor network situation that has made it difficult for several pupils and students to join the e-learning and parents’ inability to provide data as well as Android phones for their wards.
In some of the elitist schools, the pupils and students were provided two options, one by the school management and the other by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). While parents who had two or three kids involved are accounting costs of buying new Android phones, data, and in some instance new laptops for virtual contact with teachers.
Many school kids were excited, but acknowledged missing the face-to-face contact with their teachers and colleagues. Parents were not comfortable with the demand for payment of fees for the third term by some school owners.
Six-year-old pupil of Starfield Early Years, Fagba, Lagos, Aduragbemi Sanyaolu, said it has been interesting and frustrating:
“Interesting because it is interactive and frustrating because I don’t get to see my classmates physically. She preferred face-to-face interaction with her teachers “because explanations are clearer.”
She said the network provided by her father was working perfectly but complained about data usage because two of her sisters are also involved in online learning.
Thirteen-year-old Lateef Agunbiade, a student of Fountain Secondary School, Ipaja, Lagos, said the online teaching was his first experience including the school.
He some teachers at the onset found it difficult to deliver their subjects either because of network issues or phones had problems. He also observed that some could not do voice recordings to explain a concept or paste the timetable or topic for the subject:
“Even some of my colleagues had to borrow their brothers’ or sisters’ Android phones to participate in online teaching. At the onset, we encountered network issue and the video sent by our teachers.
It is a good exercise because it will make students and teachers know much about online teaching. I missed the one-on-one contact with my teachers, it cannot be substituted for classroom teaching.’’
A teacher in one f the Federal Government schools in Lagos said in his college, the students are confused about which online platform to hook on because the management, PTA and Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja had issues:
“Our students are not new to online teaching and are used to ICT. The major issue is some of our students from certain areas are not part of it because of the lack of network and Android phones. Our students are responding well but some parents complained about the lack of contact with teachers in the classroom.’’
Helen Ofor, a JSS 111 student of Top Brain Academy, Ogba, Lagos, said she as well as her colleagues were excited when the school management came up with the online option:
”The only challenge is network problem, which slowed down the exchange between the teachers and students. Some of our teachers who are new to online also had some difficulties, so they took the time to deliver their online classes. Copying of notes and listening to video recordings of our teachers is making the exercise cumbersome.
“From the timetable, it seems the school has jumped to the third term when we are yet to finish our second term. Our teachers don’t have answers to the issue of the third term and when we will start our second term exam. I also notice that not all our colleagues are participating in online teaching.’’
Anyanwu Ekpereamaka, SS2 student of Federal Government College, Nise, Anambra State, described the experience of online learning as wonderful and exciting:
“My experience with the network I am using is a wonderful one. It teaches online and you do all you need to do, your lessons and assignments. The experience has been nice throughout.
“It is good and it is helpful to students. It is helpful to us as students because it teaches us in a slow mood, unlike the way teachers rush lessons in class because of time. You can just watch it within 12 minutes, nine minutes, and understand, you can even pulse and do everything you want to do in a specific time and they also give exercises that help us to understand and learn more about that particular topic of the day.
“It also helps us in knowing how to use or operate our computer or even our Android phone and helps also in ICT. The programme also teaches ICT, help us to manipulate many things on the computer, so it is a wonderful experience.
“Online is sweet because it has a way it teaches, face-to-face is also okay. But the problem we have with face-to-face is that there is no enough time for teachers to explain and take questions from students.
“This is a problem because many students want to ask different questions but in a subject, you may just have one period, two periods which is not enough for the students to learn what they supposed to learn for a specific time. But with the online platform which is given to students now, it is helping because you can download or copy the lesson, listen to it, understand it and do the assignments.’
“But in all, face-to-face is still the best, you are looking at your teacher and he or she is looking at you, you learn some good habits from them and they correct you in your character not only in academics. I also think it will be nice if the two are combined especially in federal schools, it will help students go through the topics gently and thoroughly so that they will understand them and is faster.
“My Dad, however, complains so much about data because data is so expensive and you know this COVID-19 period is very difficult and there is no money. In fact, he almost beat me last week as he wanted to work with his laptop only to find out that the data he recharged the previous night has been exhausted in one day by me.”
Okechukwu Udodi of Federal Government College, Enugu, SS2, said he has only been two days in the programme:
“It is easy to learn online than somebody teaching you because you can fast forward it and backward it. I prefer class teaching because I can ask my teacher questions and my teacher can ask me questions back.
“The online network is not working well, all these network issues and buying data, data in Nigeria is very expensive.”
He said the parents are complaining of data:
“Yes to buy data like a gig is one thousand plus and you know it is not easy for our parents especially at this period of COVID-19.”
Defending the demand for school fees, proprietor of Top Brain Academy, Ogba, Lagos, Mrs. Grace Olayemi, said many schools are through with the second term and are asking for payment to pay teachers who are handling the online teaching:
“We are not demanding extra or new fees but the old rate because we have started the third term even if it is via the online, it is the same curriculum. Many parents are complaining about the demand for fees because of the COVID-19 and its attendant economic hardship facing the country. But we must pay our teachers and other staff.’’
He explained that since online teaching started five weeks ago, it has been an added experience for the students, teachers, and the school management that also monitor each class session to ensure full compliance. She said the noticeable problems are parents complain of data usage by their wards and
Students of Federal Government Girls’ College, Oyo, are waiting for the school management to commence the online teaching four weeks after their colleagues in other unity schools had started the third term teaching online.
It was gathered that the school management last week sent out text messages to parents ahead of the take-off of the e-teaching but did not state the cost implication. Some parents logged on but the school has not uploaded anything.
A JSS1 student of Kings College, Lagos, Johnson Moyosore Maxwell, said the e-learning is an interesting experience:
“Watching how my teachers teach the various topic is exciting because it provides continuous educational opportunities and practices for me. This makes me busy and active with my studies.
“E-learning is good, but it cannot replace face-to-face with my teachers. E-learning is a good alternative when students are away from school environments either as a result of being on holiday or other reasons like the COVID-19 pandemic that has made every school to shutdown.
Face to face with teachers in the classroom is more advantageous because it is interactive; the teacher can ask questions and students can also ask questions while the class lasts.”
Some students in Rivers State expressed delight in online teaching. An SS2 student, Jensen Adjugah, said:
‘’The online teaching is nice. I enjoy it. But, where I am finding it difficult in the learning exercise are the subjects that have to do with calculation. Apart from them, others are okay.”
He said he preferred face-to-face teaching with teachers to e-learning because the students understand more when guided by the teachers than when they learn independently. He advised government and school authorities to pay much attention to the subjects that have calculation because the students need the attention of teachers for proper guidance.
The pupil also suggested that the government should provide a zoom application for visual learning. He said his parents have never complained about wasting their data, saying that he has not missed any class as contained in the e-learning timetable of his school.
Similarly, Granville Temebo, a JSS 2 student, enjoys the online teaching. He said that the online class runs from Monday to Friday, and each subject lasts for 45 minutes:
“Face-to-face learning in the classroom is better, because the students would have the opportunity to ask questions for clarification.
“Online teaching should be included in the school curriculum to equip us for unforeseen circumstances. My parents have not complained of their data being wasted because electronic learning is part of academic development.
“Government should help students by providing packages, like audio and video recordings that would improve students’ learning process and assimilation, as well as effective connection with the teachers.”
Meanwhile, over a month after the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu directed tertiary institutions to commence online teaching for students investigations revealed that only few adhered to his directive. In fact, some of the heads of the institutions claimed ignorance of his directive when their views were sought.