By Chinwendu Nnamani & Njideka Eze
The Coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the world for months without any visible hope to an end. With thousands dead and a lot more infected, countries had to adopt different measures to curb the spread in their territory. From restrictions to international travels and guests through closure of borders, to closure of interstate borders within countries, to lockdowns which involved total closure including places of worship, entertainment and education.
With the closure of schools and indeed, other places of public gatherings, the government intended to reduce the risk of person to person infection while ensuring maximum social distancing and use of protective equipment (face masks, sanitizers etc.) where necessary.
With these at play, places of work were also shut down and more sectors of the economy followed. As such, parents have now more time to spend with their children, groom and bond with them. This has been quite productive as well as challenging for the parents.
While parents have taken over the job of tutoring the children with the help of the online tutorial from schools, some parents could not meet up with their own demands as they now have to stay home because of the kids. This is true, especially for parents with little kids and no adult help.
The Federal Government of Nigeria launched free e-learning portals for all Pupils in primary and Students in secondary schools while State governments followed suite with the introduction of online learning platforms which commenced learning via different channels that are available in their states, mostly local TV and radio. Private schools have also started recording and posting lessons on whatsapp groups where pupils and studentslearn.
Considering the level of digitalization existing in Nigeria, it will not be false to say that the percentage of people that will really benefit from the online learning will be a very small portion of the populace. Access to the internet is another limiting factor as cost of data from any of the Telecommunication Company in Nigeria is not encouraging. With a good number of people struggling with scarcity and high cost of food supply, would data purchase for online study still be a priority? Availability of smartphone or computer is another limiting factor. These are just some of the setbacks to consider.
Some parents who reacted on their experiences with handling the kids and keeping them busy since the school closure have these to say:
“I have two kids; one is 3 years old and in Nursery 2 while the other one is just a year and 7 months old. I guide the elderly one to recite his Alphabets and Numbers every day for sometimes, as much as I could get him to sit his playful self down. The younger one has barely started getting use to school before the pandemic so he doesn’t really get the whole studying at home thing, he just join his brother to sing some poems and recite the alphabets and numbers. The kids are still young, so getting them to concentrate is a big issue. I also allow them to watch educative cartoons whenever they get really tired with studying and we also play a lot. Since I am a stay-at-home mum who has a small business just in front of my compound, I still get to take care of the kids while attending to my business but the attention is now divided.”
“My kids and I have developed a routine since the lockdown, we wake up late due to the fact that they sleep late since the pandemic, when we wake up and finish the morning chores like sweeping and tidying up the house, we have breakfast and take our bath just in time to join the online class organized by their school. Getting them to sit and join the class is always a difficult task but when they do, they are able to enjoy what the teacher is teaching. My younger child is not always interested in all the teachings as he gets to pick the ones he prefers and I will have to force him through the others. It is quite easier to get the elder one in nursery three to join the online class. So far, I think they are learning from the online classes. After the class, they get to play and also watch their favorite cartoon on the television. The implication of this is that I no longer go out for my business as I can’t afford to carry them around jumping public transport and I do not have a capable help.”
My kids are in secondary school but they are in public school. There are no online classes being organized by their school so I have drafted out a reading routine for them to keep them busy while waiting for school resumption. They make use of their text books in reading through subjects, revising what they were taught in the last term and introducing themselves to new topics. They get to ask me questions in any area they don’t understand. I also bought lots of novels for them which they get to read and give me a summary just to make sure they are really reading it. It has been an engaging holiday for them.
It has been very difficult getting my kid to concentrate with reading as he is easily distracted with play but nevertheless I still try. I got a DVD of Rhymes, educative plays that involve alphabets and numbers, phonics etc as he likes watching TV. I also bought books of alphabets and numbers to keep him busy and his memory refreshed even while at home. I am really praying that the government will make a plan that will make the kids return to school as one academic term is nearly over and the kids are really getting carried away with play while at home.
“As someone who is always on the go, the lockdown initially was welcomed. It afforded me the opportunity to unwind and bond with my children and husband. As time went by, working from home and keeping my teenage sons entertained and meaningfully engaged became a burden. I suddenly realized that the next few weeks or even months won’t be easy for any of us. Two of my three children, like me, are pathologically extraverted, staying at home with routinesfor long period sounds like torture. But even for the biggest introverts among us, my eldest child, having him home for several weeks with no contact with the outside world, was no joke. That was the point I decided that we all need to become creative.”
“Our fun learning activities focused on the kids but over time my husband and I realized that we may enjoy some of the ideas too. To cope with movement restrictions and keep safe from COVID-19, we play in-house board games like scrabble, Chess and checkers. One of my kids that love drawing was encouraged to make a comic book for teenagers. He is now on part of the first edition. Every week, we take turns to research on topics or things of interest and make a weekly 30 minute stage presentation during what we call ‘ Family Talk show’. Each Talk show presents opportunity for my eldest child who is very quiet, shy and reserved to learn how to overcome stage freight and even to take the center stage.”
“My kids have been on e-learning all these while. My elder daughter has been learning graphics and web design online. Now, she tutors people via WhatsApp groups for a fee. So far, she has made over 50,000.
At their leisure time, they ride bicycles and we play some card games as a family. It’s been productive all the way.”
“The children had come home with little homework from school so we ensured that they attended to them accordingly. Thereafter, we started giving them daily home work to ensure that they are engaged in reading and writing. It was observed that whenever we skipped days without the homework it affected their performance, so it was better to remain consistent. The school initially created Whatsapp group through which they gave the children home work. This was more helpful as the children got more serious knowing that the homework would be submitted and marked upon resumption, unlike our homemade homework. It was later that the school introduced the online classes which were first shared on YouTube but later directly on their website.
“This has not been wonderful for us as it requires steady and strong internet connectivity. On the other hand, the children don’t seem to be enjoying it. They see it as boring and tiring.We downloaded lots of educational kiddies’ cartoons on the phone to help with reading readiness. The children watch from time to time and prefer it than the e-classes. We allowed them access to laptop to learn how to operate computer including how to Type and Draw. They are allowed to play computer games. In fact, it was during this period that they discovered all the games in the laptop which we did not remember either existed nor know how to play them. For the pre-school child, although he learns by participating with the older ones, he is also taught according to his levels. We bought new set of writing materials including whiteboard markers for them to use board.”
With the very limited success of the of the online learning in Nigeria due to all constraints that has been listed above, one can see that concluding term of 2019/2020 academic session is under serious threat by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to recover from what is lost academically, the Government and the students will have to really put in extra effort to recover from the lost time experienced due to the pandemic.
“Initially, we enrolled them at their school’s online classes but, had to drop out because of the excessive consumption of internet data, poor power supply etc. We bought some age appreciate books for them, which they study with during the week and have a break during weekends. Proper engagement in artistic drawing, cutting and coloring of shapes of objects on paper were ensured by us. They also have a make believe play which they present to us as their audience. Cheering for them after every presentation of their art work or play encourages them to do more and you could see the enthusiasm in them as they anticipate for a new performance. Allocating a time for T.V age appropriate programs is also one of the ways they are engaged them at this period. The studies, art work presentation and the participation in a play, the T.V programs and teaching of good moral to uplift them spiritually also comes with lots of rest in the afternoons. They are looking forward to the end of the pandemic or “Corona holidays” according to them. We hope and pray for the end of COVID-19 pandemic and to return to our normal lives free from this virus and lockdowns.”