There is no better time than now to reemphasize the importance of Education. With the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic that overwhelmed the world’s systems and institutions, it has become necessary to strategize ways to improve policies or structures that would align with the ‘new normal’. This is to ensure no one is left behind.
According to reports by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), the lives of 1.6 billion students were affected in over 190 countries due to the closure of schools brought about by the pandemic. Governments everywhere moved swiftly to offer alternative solutions, but at least one third of the world’s students were not able to access remote learning, while it is estimated that those in low-and lower-middle-income countries have lost nearly four months of schooling compared to six weeks in high-income ones.
In Nigeria, this disruption is still evident. Students in government owned higher institutions were left to themselves for almost 9 months due to the industrial strike action embarked on by the lecturers. University of Ibadan in Nigeria published a press release stating that the 2019/2020 academic session ceases to exist in its calendar. Students are at the receiving end of the accumulated negligence towards Education by government.
It is high time governments and relevant stakeholders worked towards recovering and revitalizing Education. Without doubts, education is the bedrock for global development and a decline in any region would definitely affect the common goal of realizing a world where access to quality education is normalized.
As we adjust to this new way of living, it is important to drive conversations around investing significantly in Education. There is no education without finance. It is no longer acceptable to present Education as a privilege. No meaningful progress can be achieved if nothing is done to change this narrative as soon as possible.
To revitalize Education, there has to be a compulsory integration of technology across all levels. The pandemic has caused a lot of strain on physical meetings hence, the importance of making ICT available for students everywhere. Teachers have been at the frontlines, committing their time, expertise and utilizing the limited resources in recovering lost moments. They ought to be fully incorporated in the support scheme. Education budgets should be increased and monitored for due implementation. Also, the government needs to partner with relevant institutions to bridge the wide gaps of inequalities and inequities that already exist in our world especially in the Education Sector.
As we celebrate this year’s International Day of Education, we must make it our civic responsibility to hold the government accountable, to meet our demands for a society where Quality Education is available, accessible and affordable regardless of race, religion, culture and/or gender.