Published as it was written originally – April 10, 2020 by Ibrahim Abdullahi, Teach for Nigeria – Kaduna and Joy Ogbonna, Teach for Nigeria-Ogun.
Emmanuel reflects upon his work in LGEA Unguwan Dosa. His thoughts revolved around how the children coping with feeding and other basic necessities, their numeracy and literacy assignments and hygiene practices. His concerns are valid.
He has been relentless beyond his stellar works in the classroom to say the least, in engaging and conversing with parents and community leaders in the school’s community. He was already working with his Co-Fellows in LGEA Unguwan Dosa on a teacher training project for inclusive classrooms in the States public primary schools before the shutdown of schools and everything else due to the pandemic. These were serious concerns as the future remained uncertain.
INCLUSION AND COVID-19: CONSEQUENCES OF A MILLENNIAL ISSUE
According to World Meters, at the time of writing, 1,673,423 confirmed cases of Covid-19 cases have been recorded with 101,526 deaths. To say this is a global emergency would be an understatement. The pandemic has led to a decay in all specters of activities and functioning on a global scale. No vaccine and no cure.
The impact of Corona-viruses on education as a result of the unavoidable school closures cannot be overemphasized. According to the UNESCO report, over 80% of the world’s total student population are not attending school due to the pandemic. This infers that more than 1.3 billion students are out of school in over 138 countries due to the school closures.
The situation is even more alarming for students less developed nations such as Nigeria where information technology has not been successfully applied to ensure students learn without the box–the confines of classrooms and schools, and most parents especially in rural-low income communities such as Unguwan Dosa, where Teach For Nigeria Fellow, Emmanuel strives to ensure kids attain excellent education and communities are an integral part of education, its systems and its processes.
Even before the pandemic, according to the Department for International Development, over 10% of the worlds out of school children are said to exist in this beloved country of ours, most of which come from the households of the 100 million Nigerians that live below 1 Euro per day. For this population, current school closures will not only impact learning achievement and academic outcomes but will also aggravate the already compounded educational inequalities with disadvantaged children being left behind.
GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN: EFFORTS TO ENSURE SAFETY AND SUSTAIN EDUCATIONAL IMPACT AMIDST THE PANDEMIC.
Nene Ibezim, a Teach for Nigeria Fellow shares her experiences as she engages the households of the learners in her classroom and the immediate community and educating them on safe hygienic practices and preventive approaches to adhere to during this period and beyond it.
We see more fellows keeping up with parents and wards through phone calls and encouraging them to monitor and facilitate their kids learning activities during this period so they do not miss out as compared to their counterparts that have access to e-based learning resources.
Ngunan Gertrude and Abdullahi have long collected contact information of the parents of over 150 kids in their classroom and have initiated conversation with them to ensure the efforts they and have put into battling education inequality since they started the fellowship in 2018 is not reversed or loses sustainable impact momentum.
These are stories have in no way been near exhaustive of the measures Teach for Nigeria is taking to bridge the gap and ensure no one is left behind in achieving inclusive and equitable education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Some other practices activated by Fellows and Staff of Teach for Nigeria include;
- Design of picture animations to capture learner’s attention to practice good hygiene.
- Radio conversations about roles parents, communities and every other person can play.
- Translation of contents for mitigation and awareness.
- Design of graphic contents.
- Volunteering to track Covid-19 funds donation using accountability technologies.
- Partnering with international education development partners for speaker series.
- Continuation of E-Based Be-The-Change projects.
The onus lies upon leaders to devise more and better strategic approaches while continuing relentlessly on existing initiatives to better scale up inclusive education and bridge the gap for education inequality during and beyond the pandemic. As someone once said, “whatever the problem, education is the answer”. Organizations like Teach for Nigeria have not lost sight of the vision: “One day, every Nigerian child will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education”.