The coronavirus pandemic has indeed taken the world by storm while disrupting the activities of institutions globally; the educational sector inclusive. As a result, educational institutions around the world have been forced into total lockdown. The last time this happened was during World War II (1939-1945). Inasmuch as this present predicament may not re-occur frequently, it is expedient that we quickly learn the lessons the COVID-19 era has taught us, while proffering innovative solutions to the challenges this season brings especially in the educational sector.
The pandemic accelerated the process of digitization across all sectors. The Nigerian educational sector is currently faced with this harsh reality; we are ill-prepared! Schools around the world have so far been able to easily transition into online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the technological flaws and gaps in our educational system in Nigeria.
Firstly, very few schools in Nigeria were able to adopt the e-learning process; a whole lot of others were left clueless on how to productively engage pupils and students who were forced to be at home. Additionally, we have had to swallow the hard truth concerning the poor technological know-how of our teachers and lecturers. Educators who could not keep up with the use of SMART boards, video conferencing, as well as other required Edu-tech skills had to be dropped.
The challenges posed by the pandemic are indeed too numerous to mention. But it is not all gloom and doom. As a matter of fact, this present scenario can serve as a blessing in disguise. The pandemic has served as an eye-opener to what needs to be done in order to be at par with our foreign counterparts. The pressing need for personal development on the part of our educators especially in ICT has been brought to light. The need for massive investment in ICT infrastructure across all tiers of the educational system has been made obvious for all stakeholders to see.
Therefore, the multi-million naira question is: What will be the future of education Post-Covid?
Digital education may topple traditional classroom education
In the pre-covid era, digital learning was viewed as a back-up plan or as second best to traditional classroom education. But with successful transitions from brick and mortar organizations to virtual organizations in the business sector, can we still view e-learning as an alternative? Project Echo’s Dr. Sanjeev Arora has proven that healthcare workers who got their education via telemedicine can now achieve the same health outcomes as specialist hospitals. We can no longer continue to be hinged on the assumption that traditional classroom education is the best education.
Redefinition of the role of the educator
To achieve the effective education in the 21st century, we can no longer see the educator as the epitome of knowledge who imparts wisdom in young lives. We live in an era where our pupils and students can gain access to information on any topic with just a few clicks on their smart-phones and computers. They can even go as far as learning some technical skills via the internet. Does this mean the educators become irrelevant? Of course not! This simply means the role of the educator may need to bend towards encouraging the development of our young ones as contributing members of society.
How ready is our future generation?
In a report by the World Economic Forum, it has been predicted that 65% of primary school children today will be working in job types that do not exist yet. The world is dynamic; young people will require emotional intelligence, creativity, adaptability and other essential skills to navigate what lies ahead. How ready are they? Are educators properly equipped to guide them into these unforeseen roles? The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed opened our eyes to this truth; our education needs to change in order to better equip our young scholars for what the future might hold.
While predicting the future of education Post-Covid 19 may not be so straight-forward, one important fact stands. Education encompasses the totality of man and if our future generation must remain relevant, we must ensure that via the right application of innovative Edu-tech tools, the learning process at home and school remains efficient, effective and seamless.