Pupils study with the Teach For Nigeria Remote Learning Program’s radio school, launched in the pandemic
When Nigeria closed its classrooms last year as coronavirus spread across the country, Folawe Omikunle mobilised her fellow teachers to keep children learning. She hopes their innovations can be adapted and extended as pupils now return to school.
Staff made home visits to offer tuition, developed worksheets and online quizzes to make learning more fun and interactive, and broadcast their lessons on local radio stations to isolated communities that lacked digital connections.
“The pandemic created an opportunity to engage with a challenge that existed before Covid-19, in providing alternative ways for kids to learn — to close the gaps and reach as many as possible,” Omikunle says. Like her counterparts around the world, she is turning her attention to assessing the emotional and learning setbacks caused by months out of school.
They hope to help students catch up and to “build back better” or — in the latest mantra adopted by educationalists — to “build forward better” for the coming generations. The task is significant. “There is a major crisis as we start to see the full impact of closures,” says Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, who gathered ministers from around the world at the end of March to take stock of the fallout from coronavirus.
“It affects everyone.” One concern is that so many children remain out of the education system. Unesco estimates that schools in just 107 countries have fully reopened, with those in a further 30 fully closed and those in another 70 only partially open. Almost 1bn learners are still studying remotely, with a “digital divide” further discriminating between richer and poorer students within and between nations.