Following challenges of insecurity in Nigerian schools, especially public schools, the education community has expressed a strong desire for the adoption of digital alternatives which will allow students study from the comfort of their homes to improve learning outcomes with no one at any security risk.
Panelists at a webinar on “School Safety and Digital Alternatives in Nigeria” orgarnised by development Research Project Centre (dRPC) on Tuesday noted that considering schools’ closure due to COVID-19 in the past two years, digital alternatives were proving the best option.
While suggesting that digital education is a priority which every government must key into, they emphasised the need to bring everyone, the public, private sector and civil societies on board to promote digital education in the country.
One of the panelists, associate professor and deputy director of research and external relations at the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Adefunke Ekine, said digital education was the way forward as there was need to restrategise so that teachers could be trained on how to use technology impart knowledge.
Dr Ekine said, “We need to repackage our intervention so that teachers can teach and have access to their students. We need to look at the digital alternatives, as we cannot remain with the face-to-face method; it is no longer working.”
On his part, the executive Secretary of the Nigerian Educational Resource Development Centre (NERDC), Ismail Junaidu, said the issue of school safety was a serious one which the federal government had to take a big priority.
Mr Junaidu said the centre had been working on something around digital education, noting that because not everybody had access to the internet, they were proposing the blend of online and offline alternatives.
While revealing that an online safety curriculum has been developed to protect the students from being trapped by the wrong happenings on the internet, Junaidu said a committee had also been set up to work on open learning curriculum that would address the issue of digital learning, noting that the centre was open to any partnership that would assist in driving the course further.
The webinar, which was moderated by the executive director of dRPC, Dr Judith A. Walker, also had in attendance students of Leiden University, Netherlands, who shared the research they carried out in Nigeria and their plan to put out a programme on digital education that Nigerian students could access and learn from.
The students’ lead, Jasmin Alkenany, said the programme would be customised to tailor in the needs of Nigerian students with open access to a website, and that it would be done looking at how it was practiced elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the executive director of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiatives, Abideen Opeyemi, suggested that USSD and tablets without internet should be used and made solely for learning purposes without access to social media platforms, and that government needed to be intentional about monitoring and evaluation.