Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki in March announced the total shut down of schools across the state as part of measures to curtain the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19), with parents not envisaging that their children would spend the last 4 months without leaving their homes for school.
The development affected academic calendar of schools, and then prompted the state government to provide an alternative source of learning especially for children of primary school age during the enforced holiday. It is tagged ‘EDOBEST at Home E-learning’, an extension of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) initiative.
It was introduced by governor Obaseki in 2018 to improve learning and transform the state public education system. But since the commencement of the e-learning, it has been a case of one in 20 children that attend this online classes to continue studies before their school resumption.
According to findings, most of these children do not have browsing gadgets and access to internet in their homes to enable them learn from resources that ought to have been downloaded from an online database. Many have ventured into non-academic activities that exposes them to exploitation, molestation and abuse as their seniors in post primary school classes.
The State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) have been offering daily lessons via its website (https://subeb.edostate.gov.ng) for parents to keep their children and wards occupied during the partial lockdown, but, it was observed, the students abandoned the homeschooling programme for menial jobs, apprenticeship, hawking, while others idle away at home.
Some parents whose children attend private schools had resort to employ the service of teachers who visit their homes to teach them.
In some places, parents make arrangements with private teachers in line with covid-19 precautionary measures, to meet with their children at a particular venue for the daily lessons at a fee.
“For the past 3-months, I’ve spent N20,000 each for my 4 children for their home classes. We have to keep them learning, and we are paying for it.
“If only their school will resume quick. But we can not change it”, A mechanical engineer, Akugbe Hycinth told newsmen in Benin city.
Hycinth acknowledged that, not every parents can afford “the luxury” to ensure their children continue to learn despite the coronavirus outbreak, adding its economic effect has forced most parents to “abandon their children education” amid the lockdown to fate.
“Two of my children are in secondary school already, and the other 2 would soon finish primary school. They’re all in a private school that we can afford”, he said
One senior secondary school student of Army Day in Ikpoba Okha local government area, Samuel Sule maintained they were not aware of the online homeschooling platform, as they were only asked by their class teacher to stay at home.
“it’s only army children school that they are using computer to teach”, Samuel added
However, a school teacher at Uwa primary school in Uhunmwode LGA who craved anonymity explained that SUBEB is to set up similar venues across the state where “not more than 20 persons with distancing” would seat to receive “4-hours lessons and go back home”.
The teacher noted that the lessons will be mainly for students and pupils that do not have access to the necessary facilities to partake in the online homeschooling platform.
According to him, the teachers would receive “extra N10,000 as allowance” for the extra classes.
He lamented that most parents could not provide gadgets for their children to take advantage of the online classes, hence the state government had to make provision to “cover lost ground” during the lockdown.
“when we call parents to ask why their children are not participating in the online class, they will tell you they don’t have time.
“Some will ask us, will Obaseki buy phone and data for our children?
Meanwhile, the state government said it has not authorized the reopening of schools, contrary to speculations.
It therefore threatened to impose sanctions on any school that flouts its earlier directive to shut down.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the state government has not authorized schools, whether public or private, even the certificate classes to reopen under the present circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Commissioner for Education, Barr. Jimoh Ijegbai said in a statement recently.