POLICY MEMO (Stanford/MIT COVID-19 Policy Hackathon)
To: Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister of Education, Nigeria
From: Ebenezar Wikina, Chimdi Chukwukere, Comfort Onyaga, Kehinde Adebiyi, Oteheri Akinruntan [Team 91]
Re: Nigeria’s Public Education in a Post-COVID World: Strategies for Inclusive Learning in Tertiary Institutions
In Nigeria, the COVID-19 pandemic has further widened the digital divide between public and private tertiary institutions. To close this gap, key digital learning constraints like access to devices, lack of constant power supply, and high cost of reliable internet need to be addressed. There’s also a need to lobby for an increase in the national education budget and enact policies that mainstream education technologies in public institutions. With a youth unemployment and underemployment rate of over 55.4%, keeping young people at home without a definite engagement plan can only spell disaster for Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Education announced the temporary closure of all schools in Nigeria, effective March 23rd, in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (FME, 2020). The Learn from Home Program (LHP) designed by the Ministry in April 2020 was focused on a small percentage of public secondary students leaving millions of students in public tertiary institutions stranded for over 3 months.
Fig 1: Nigeria’s Education Budget, 2011-2020 (Source: Nigerian Bureau of Statistics)
Inadequate funding has been identified as one of the main hindrances to growth in Nigeria’s public education sector (Rowell & Money, 2018). In Figure 1, at face value, it may appear that the education budget has relatively increased over the years, however, Figure 2 puts it into perspective.
Despite UNESCO’s recommendation for developing countries to allocate 15% to 20% of their national budgets to education (UNESCO, 2015), Nigeria has not allocated more than 8% in the past ten years.
Using google forms, we leveraged Facebook, Telegram, and WhatsApp groups filled with Nigerian students and lecturers to run randomized anonymous surveys on the key constraints to virtual learning and instruction faced by both target groups. Within 18 hours (after the start of the hackathon) we received a total of 134 responses from the targeted sample – 106 responses from students and 28 responses from lecturers.
Fig 3: Nigerian Students responses on key constraints to online learning (Source: Team 91 Survey Findings)
Our study showed that the leading concerns for students’ access to virtual learning are data (79.2%) and Power supply (50.9%) thus underscoring the points earlier made about these constraints. Many students (48.1%) also attributed Lecturer’s teaching style as a hindrance which is understandable, knowing that for many lecturers in Nigeria, the COVID-19 lockdown was their first contact with virtual conferencing software thus they didn’t have the required digital literacy to deliver content through these platforms.
Similarly, 83.3% of lecturers affirmed that access to cheap and reliable internet data has been a challenge for them while 87.5% attributed poor electricity supply as a major impediment to virtual instruction.
Fig 4: Responses highlight the lack of students’ willingness to continue online academic work (Source: Team 91 Survey Findings)
Only 6.6% of students are very convenient with digital learning, with 93.4% fairly/not convenient with it. In addition to this, 63.2% of student respondents do not wish to continue academic work online while 36.8% were willing to continue. This doesn’t come as a surprise because the key constraints stacked up against them make it difficult to learn online successfully.
(See Annex for Implementation Workplan & timelines)
Being the World’s Poverty Capital (Brookings Institute, 2018) with more than half of its youth unemployed or underemployed (Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 2019), Nigeria cannot continue to let education take the backseat. The Honourable Minister must champion the digital revolution in Nigeria’s public education sector to avert the impending doom.
Download PDF version below to see Implementation Workplan, Theory of Change, References, and Annex