Education is one of the critical sectors that is still being affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria. However, many state governments have started exploring alternatives to physical classes.
Ogun State, for instance, is running a digital class on television and on its Ogundigiclass website for its students. The Lagos State Government followed that lead and is currently doing something similar for the education of its future leaders.
Yesterday, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, announced on his official Twitter page that the state would begin airing tutorials for SS3 students.
The tutorials are mainly to prepare the SS3 students for the West African Secondary School Certificate Exams (WASSCE), which would have been ongoing but for the current lockdown.
This was however met with mixed reactions on Twitter.
Kaduna state poverty and illiteracy profile
According to the State Bureau of Statistics, in 2015 Kaduna has a population of 8 million and 57% of that are below 19 years of age. It can be presumed that the targeted SSS 3 students fall within that age bracket.
Figures from the Nigeria Poverty Profile, 2010 estimates that 61.5% of Kaduna residents live in absolute poverty, while 73% live in relative poverty.
The relative poverty index was derived by considering the residents based on those who had improved living standards with access to amenities such as good water supply, improved sanitation, power supply, among others.
The above figures play a significant role in the pupils educational journey. According to the Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission in 2016, 33% of the students can not read a sentence at age 15 (official exit age for Junior Secondary School). A third can not perform subtraction.
This backdrop makes the radio and Television tutoring initiative by the Government very welcoming and quite appealing.
There are quite a number of odds stacked against the effectiveness of the initiative. If it wants to reach a larger percentage of its target audience and teach them successfully there are a number of hurdles that must be addressed.
Constant power supply, and access to Television and or Radio sets are the primary determinants of the success of the program, particularly in the rural regions.
Speaking with a resident of Mahuta in Kaduna State on what he considered the chances of the initiative to be, he said the chances were very slim. According to him, in the developed areas, children do not watch NTA Kaduna, much less listen to radio broadcasts.
“30 to 40% watch DSTV, GOTV and the likes, I can not remember what some of these local stations look like,” he said.
This implies that the number of SS3 students who are likely to watch this in developed areas may be less than expected, even though they can access it.
This led to his opinion that it might be more effective if parents can sit with their wards, or find a way of ensuring that they tune in to the proper channels at the right time.
However, this is the Government’s way of stepping in to make sure the lockdown does not lead to even worse outcomes academic-wise. Thus, whatever needs to be done to make the initiative a success has to be done.
However, considering that 57% of the students manage to complete primary schooling, and only 41% of those pupils manage to make it past the Junior Secondary School stage, students may require quite a huge effort to continue seeing the relevance of education, especially when they are away from the physical school environment.
This is a good initiative however, and shows that the government is not unaware of the educational needs of its citizens.
With relevant stakeholders, including the parents, students, power holding company, working together to get the best out of the broadcast tutorial sessions, it is an initiative that could be beneficial.
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