DEAN Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has organised a virtual town hall meeting to examine the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Nigeria’s educational sector.

The meeting, held on Tuesday via Zoom, an online video service, featured several experts in the educational sector.

According to Semiye Michael, founder, DEAN Initiative, the meeting was essential to proffer alternative suggestions that would help the federal government better manage the effect of COVID-19 on students.

Michael also observed the country cannot afford to continue keeping children — particularly those in public schools —  who have been out of school for several weeks at home without meaningfully engaging them.

Busayo Morakinyo, one of panelists, said the outbreak of the virus has exposed the inherent “inequality ” and other inadequacies in the country’s educational sector.

According to him, while the federal government’s e-learning initiative has been commendable, the various challenges facing its workability shows the country must prepare its educational sector to meet global standard in the post-COVID-19 era.

On her part, Kemi Ogunsanya, another panelist, urged the federal government to empower teachers and students with digital literacy skills so as to enable skills-based driven learning in schools.

Also speaking, Gideon Olanrewaju, an educationist, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the digital divide between children in rural and urban areas in the country.

Suggesting the way forward, Olanrewaju called on the federal government to explore use of interactive radio programmes as well as community cluster schools to aid learning among students during the pandemic.

He also canvassed for a Public-Private Partnership (PPE), an alternate learning system and innovative means of generating funds, to address various issues that have stymied the growth of the nation’s educational sector.

Similarly, Joy Oballum, a technical consultant, World Bank Group, said there is need for synergy among critical stakeholders in the educational sector to chart a new course forward.

Oballum also stressed the need for government to put in place effective mechanisms that would help in monitoring proper implementation of several initiatives introduced in the educational sector.

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