Technology in a time of pandemic and Nigeria’s placement

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – The most complicated part of our lives possibly lies in their continuous nature.

Despite the grief, fear, unrest, and discomfort suffered as side-effects from the ravages of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the fact of the matter is that daily life goes on. The masses must and will still struggle for a living, eat, associate with loved ones (even if from a distance) and find ways to entertain themselves.

An area where a total standstill may be unfavourable is in that of education. As a consecutive process which requires upkeep, it would be inadvisable for those in the system not to keep their knowledge updated until schools receive the go ahead to start up again.

This may be why, across the world, countries are making provisions for learning, especially for college and university students, to be fully integrated onto digital platforms. Amongst the top ranking Nigerian institutions with preexisting and accredited online programs are the National Open University of Nigeria, the University of Lagos and the University of Maiduguri.

In a well meaning attempt to extend this preparedness to its own students, and in response to Federal Government’s advice, the Rivers State University announced its intent to not only commence full-blown lectures, but also subsequent exams.

This announcement has stirred up much indignation from students, guardians and welfare organisations alike. In a bid not to focus on complaints against the university itself as far as a recent 80% tuition hike and issues with just its regular portal, it seems expedient to consider the likelihood of a nationwide e-learning experience.

E-learning refers to the digitization of a regular teaching module and may be remote. The advantages to such a method are undeniable, considering the fact that preventative methods to the virus like movement restrictions and social distancing pose a barrier to regular class activities (especially where rumours of overcrowding are constant). The problem is, how viable an option is this?

Disheartening factors seen in reality include: the lack of widespread internet availability in rural areas, unstable power supply and the ‘daily bread’ nature of the majority of the nation’s income sources, further hampered by the current state making the availability of hardware and data resources unsure.

However unprogressive opposition to the prospect may sound, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest a more empathetic approach might be to suspend all official activities and simply encourage revision and learning amongst students until institutions are cleared for resumption.

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