Pushing Through A Pandemic

Nothing is normal and everything changes everyday

Communities in Northern Nigeria lament pertaining the effect of the pandemic on their already critical living standards and the education of their children. A critical issue to Goal4 of the SDGs

Nowhere on earth are students studying under the same conditions as four months ago. Institutions are shutdown physically and education is undergoing a compulsory reform-structured and unstructured. These worldwide closures are impacting almost 70% of the world’s (UNESCO) student population. Several other countries besides Nigeria have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners. Kaduna State is a strict case.

Since the pandemic hit Nigeria, as we strategically re-activated our Teaching Without The Box Project virtually, we have been advocating for parents to take charge in ensuring continued learning and also providing assistance to educators and institutions that went “E”. However we also understand how grossly imperfect the practice was at the initial stages. Perhaps to the disappointment of some, children have not generally been sent home to play as Vortex stated. The idea, as we hope, plan and act for, is that they continue their education at home, in the hope of not missing out too much as education cannot wait. Besides Teaching Without The Box, there is another interesting discourse.

Bjorklund and Salvanes (2011) stated that “Families are central to education and are widely agreed to provide major inputs into a child’s learning. The current global-scale expansion in home schooling might at first thought be seen quite positively, as likely to be effective”. But typically, this role is seen as a complement to the input from school.

Parents supplement a child’s math learning by practicing counting or highlighting simple math problems in everyday life; or they illuminate history lessons with trips to important monuments or museums. Being the prime driver of learning, even in conjunction with online materials, is a different question; and while many parents round the world do successfully school their children at home, this seems unlikely to generalize over the whole population. 

Key differences according to Oreopoulos et al. (2006) include the amount of time available to devote to teaching, the non-cognitive skills of the parents, resources (for example, not everyone will have the kit to access the best online material), and also the amount of knowledge – it’s hard to help your child learn something that you may not understand yourself.

Going Against The Grain

We keep up communications as global home schooling surely produces some inspirational moments, some angry moments, some fun moments and some frustrated moments, it seems very unlikely that it will on average replace the learning lost from school. But the bigger point is this: there will likely be substantial disparities between families in the extent to which they can help their children learn.

Before the pandemic, the physical teacher trainings we embarked upon took a whole lot of energy even for educators but was successful nonetheless. The educators had no prior knowledge about the strategies for inclusion much less strategies for addressing resultant issues. We made use of some of their classrooms and they related easily afterwards making them perform better!

Donations.

The door to door donations of palliatives to families of much lower class families of undeserved kids further strengthened their commitment to ensuring their children study at home and do some assignments as we collaborated with the community leaders who took it upon themselves to further ensure that parents in the communities check up on the continuation of their kids learning. More so, it further reaffirmed our conviction as we keep up training and we are set to hit our mark of training not less than 2500 educators by mid July. No one left behind!

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