Would have been if not Nigerian varsities!

What does it profit human to often place the cart before the horse or find solace in abnormality?

About a year ago, I and my opposing counsel appeared in this court of words over a similar issue as we’re presenting today. But then, it was for “our own TASUED E-services; on how remarkable the development was”. While my opposing counsel gave his well structured – but ill considered – arguments, I, like a prophetess who foresaw the negative outcome of such development was seen as being technologically apathetic. But then, it didn’t take long before we got complaints on how dysfunctional the platform was becoming – at least, two of the comments received testified to how malfunctional the platform was. And here we are today, deliberating if it would, in a time like this, be the best option for Nigerian varsities to switch to virtual learning.

My Lord, with utmost sincerity and love for humanity, I appeal that this court fall not victim of my opposing counsel’s “all in the name of technology” jinx once more. It’s high time the truth got told!

It is very much obvious – as my opposing counsel had perceived – that the Minister of Education, AdamuAdamu, desires that in a trying period as this, technology should be embraced – to ensure Nigerian students can continue their studies from home – as other parts of the world are doing presently. But, first thing first, who are the lecturers to handle or see to the affairs of the E- learning; is it the ones FGN has refused to heed to their cries – those on strike or which ones? In my view, the Minister should have considered fast tracking the move of the FG to attend to the needs of those lecturers because if this virtual learning is to be successful, the lecturers cannot be done without.

As well, in the teleconference held on April 2nd 2020, those who embraced the idea and expressed readiness to reopen were majorly the private owned schools because they claimed they had top grade virtual learning system to aid its operation. Yeah! That’s a plus for them. But what about the students of Federal and State owned varsities, what should be their fate?

If this court is yet to be convinced, how about we consider the fact that not all of these students have access to technological gadgets? Let’s even imagine they do, in a time as this, what people are looking for – with all the “social distancing”, “stay home”, “self isolation”, and “quarantine” stuff – is money to feed and not for subscription or  haven’t my opposing counsel considered the aspect of data consumption – which on a normal day is a luxury some students can’t afford.

My Lord, praying that no one, not even Adamu Adamu, sees ìdàmú (problem) in a time like this when survival is key, when ASUU strike is yet to be resolved, all schools yet to acquire the necessary infrastructure needed for virtual learning and Federal Government striving to combat COVID-19 pandemic, would we still find sense in mobilising very scarce resources for another white elephant project? I rest my case!

If not now, then when?

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and over think and hesitate

Steven Pressfield

There couldn’t have been a time like this when a single virus threatened the existence of our world, brought the comity of world nations to their knees, humbled the self acclaimed super powers and shattered the false illusion of ‘first class citizens’  into smithereens.

Milord, there couldn’t have been a time like this when proactive measures must be taken to ensure that the period of lockdown doesn’t lock down our thinking faculty. Our education should not be halted just because the nation is under lock. In 1984, Babatunde Fafunwa offered a widely accepted definition of education. He defined education as “the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or young adult develop the abilities, attitudes and other form of behaviors which are of positive values to the society in which he lives”. Milord, the key element here is the ‘aggregate of all the processes’. Notably, these processes are not limited to physical learning but cut across virtual learning as well. Also worthy of mention is the fact that virtual learning, according to reports from Research Institute of America, has been known to increase students’ retention rate by a staggering 35%.

Milord, few days ago, the famous anonymous messages reemerged on social media and the content of these anonymous messages shows how the leaders of tomorrow have been dragged down from the pinnacle of nobility to the pit of immorality. If these students could have access to technological gadgets just to display incongruity all in the name of being idle, why won’t they have access to gadgets when we all know that an average Nigerian parent would support the idea wholeheartedly? Hence, milord, we need to declare my opposing counsel’s verdicts vague and in validum.

In continuation, almost all Nigerian universities have Information and Communication Technology centers. Without wasting more resources, this could be channel towards the creation of virtual learning centers in institution where there is absence of one.  Also, leveraging on the power of technology, institution can subscribe to digital learning platforms such as Google Digital Classroom, Edmodo among others. Through this, lecturers could work from home thereby fostering the socio-economic transformation of our dear nation.

We should note, however, that this fight is not an individual one. It is a collective one. The fight is not for this generation but the unborn generation. If we must progress collectively as a nation and if we must extract the poisonous substance the virus has deposited on our nation, then, all hands must be on deck. Thus, there isn’t a better time for Nigerian universities to switch to virtual learning better than this. I rest my case!