As federal and state governments intensify their efforts to improve learning in public schools through e-learning platforms, the LEADERSHIP results have shown that the problems of poor infrastructure, slow internet access and intermittent electricity supply, among others, reduce the effectiveness of e- have impaired learning. learning in the country.
The outbreak of COVID-19 impacted the global education system, making technology an all-important tool in any teaching-learning environment. Global statistics show that over 1.2 million children are out of school as a result of the impact of COVID 19. This increased the need for e-learning platforms around the world where teaching/learning is now done remotely on digital platforms.
In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Education has launched a free e-learning website called inspire.education.gov.ng for all levels of education to facilitate access to learning. According to the ministry, the site could accommodate two million Nigerians at one time.
Last month, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) announced that it had approved N964 million for the deployment of satellite-based education system equipment in three primary schools in each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja to deepen e-learning in the country.
Recently, the Kaduna State Government launched an e-learning portal called Nigeria Learning Passport. Other states such as Lagos have also launched e-learning platforms for students in their states to further increase access to quality education. However, the LEADERSHIP Data Mining Department is investigating factors affecting the effectiveness of e-learning in Nigeria.
Research by LEADERSHIP Data Mining Department showed that e-learning does not have the required technology to succeed in Nigeria due to low ranking in infrastructure and internet accessibility. For many Nigerians, it seems that the government’s approach to solving the problem is falling short of expectations.
For example, some Nigerians have expressed skepticism about the N964 million earmarked for e-learning in the recent twilight of the Buhari government, saying it could end up as yet another abandoned project. They said that given the level of unstable and epileptic power supply in the country, it is not possible to run a seamless e-learning program effectively in elementary schools.
Irregular power supply is obviously one of the biggest setbacks for virtual learning in Nigeria. All devices used in the virtual learning process require a constant and stable power supply to function. This erratic power supply prevents students from properly using the already installed free wireless connection in their various schools.
Speaking at a webinar, the Chairman of the Governing Council National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and former Executive Secretary of the National University Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, said the poor state of infrastructure in the country, the poor willingness of the students and teachers, are influencing the use of technology to advance teaching and learning across the country.
LEADERSHIP results showed that the basis of e-learning is the development of technical infrastructure. Experts believe that given Nigeria’s poor infrastructural development, the prospect of e-learning remains a major hurdle for scaling. Many said that despite the fact that internet connectivity has come a long way around the world, sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria, still struggles with poor internet infrastructure that leads to high levels of internet poverty.
Digital infrastructure in Nigeria is still very poor and where it exists consumers are not enjoying high speed internet due to the proliferation of mobile broadband. Statistics have shown that mobile broadband penetration in the country is 40 percent below the global average of 56 percent
Information technology expert Felix Ojo said that despite the impressive development of information and communication technology (ICT) after market liberalization in 2000, the sector is under immense political and regulatory pressure. He said the downside remains the country’s inability to effectively adapt to the demands of the times, adversely affecting the deepening of e-learning and the benefits it brings.
This is another problem hampering e-learning in the country. Internet access costs in Nigeria are still very high. Nigeria has ranked 43rd among countries with exorbitant data charges worldwide.
Ranking: countries with the cheapest internet in the world 2022
The countries with the cheapest internet in the world were ranked for 2022.
This makes it difficult for students to afford the cost of data in Nigeria, which is not pocket-friendly compared to other countries. So often parents buy a data plan for their kids but can’t explain what it was used for before it’s done. This really affects students, especially when the virtual learning involves online moderation, online streaming, etc. as all of these consume a lot of data.
Many students live in villages and rural areas with little or no network coverage. In most villages they still use the 2G network. This poses an obstacle for the virtual learning system, which should require no less than a 3G network for greater efficiency.
Students who don’t have a smartphone to access the internet are content to use the various cyber cafes that are dotted around their area. More often than not, the experiences of such students are discouraging.
Why e-learning is a flop at Nigeria’s public universities
Advocacy groups and technology experts said e-learning in Nigeria’s public universities has failed because successive governments have failed to invest in technology and have supported infrastructure, quality network connectivity and inadequate training for faculty and non-academic staff.
They also identified other stumbling blocks such as epileptic power supplies, unpredictable internet networks, restricted access and internet penetration. They added that most universities are poorly equipped for online education and that most public university students cannot afford a laptop, smartphone or tablet, while public universities lack the infrastructure, funding, flexibility and staff to scale up Switch to online classes a quick note.
They found that private universities are more modern in terms of laboratories, ICT and other teaching devices and more flexible in terms of governance and administrative structures compared to their public counterparts.
IT experts and education stakeholders also said the government must invest in infrastructure while training and retraining faculty and teachers in new technology applications to make the switch possible. They said the recurring problem of underfunding would not make e-learning work at the nation’s public universities.
Prof Okebukola, who is also a professor of computer science education, said the poor state of infrastructure in the country, poor student and teacher readiness are hampering the use of technology to advance teaching and learning across the country. He further explained that in e-learning, Nigeria has only 60 percent e-readiness among students and 40 percent e-readiness among teachers to take on technology classes. However, he said the e-readiness status of secondary schools across the country is 30 percent.
He predicted that by 2027, 65 percent of secondary school classes would be technology-based to drive e-learning across the country, while 65 percent of university-level classrooms and workshops would also be technology-based to enhance e-learning in Nigerian universities. He added that higher education teachers, including secondary school teachers, need to be digitally literate and equipped to deliver digital skills and drive e-learning in any learning environment.
The stakeholders are demanding that the federal government find a way to lower data costs, which could come in the form of subsidies for students and academic staff. This, they said, will greatly encourage the adoption of e-learning systems. Education stakeholders too would like telcos alike to find a way to have the same spread of their network across the country. This is designed to enable students in both rural and urban areas to have uninterrupted and stable power at any time and in any location of their choice.
Above all, all Nigerians want the government to create a way for the whole country to enjoy 24/7 uninterrupted power supply. This is to keep all devices required for virtual learning running.
LEADERSHIP Data reports that the internet became available in Nigeria in 1996 with full internet access by 1998 and by 2001 there were over 150 ISPs licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).