Lagos, Nigeria (CNB News) – Lagos State Education District III led by Dr. Yinka Ayandele recently launched an initiative called EDUGLOW to enhance remote learning and aid students in navigating and adjusting to the new normal being forced by the current pandemic. The initiative has as offerings teaching materials, counseling and guides. In this interview, Dr. Ayandele, the Tutor General and Permanent Secretary of the district covering the Lagos Island, Lekki and Epe, sheds light on why her administration took such a bold initiative.
Why EDUGLOW and what is its ultimate aim?
EDUGLOW is a child of necessity. The need to keep learning despite school closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought this idea. E-learning, as good as it is, is not in favour of students who do not have needed resources to benefit from it. EDUGLOW has come to bridge the gap and to serve as an essential aid for students. The ultimate aim is to inspire students to move up to the next level of achievements in life.
How critical is students’ engagement with learning during this unintended break?
Really, it is important to note that learning does not take place alone in the classroom. Students, teachers and parents must know that learning can take place in other places using technology. We have exposed our students in Lagos State to different platforms to ensure that learning continues. Radio, TV, different online platforms, even telephone is being used; that is what the toll-free lines are for. Students call in to ask questions concerning their subjects, future career, certain concepts they don’t understand, and there is always a teacher at the other end to answer the questions. For us in the district, we ensure we engage students in active learning by involving their parents and family. If a student is off the platform for some time, we call to find out why. We take and monitor attendance in order to do that. However, we are aware, as the attendance and follow-up show, that not all students can join us online or even on TV and radio because of electricity issues. That is why the worksheets have to be. We print all lessons taken online and distribute at specified locations so that no child is left behind.
Why the need to counsel students at this time?
Definitely, Covid 19’s impact is on everyone, economically, psychologically, health wise, and other aspects of life. The counseling is not only for students but for as many people that will need such at this time. It is important to have psychological stability and wellbeing. When one is not stable psychologically, he is not able to think straight and plan ahead. The post Covid new normal has come to stay, and only those who are able to upgrade themselves to navigate the new normal in order to reduce the effect to the minimal level will be able to thrive through this period. Our students are the leaders of tomorrow and we believe that tomorrow starts today. So, we are to ensure their wellbeing. Many of them are facing issues and psychological pains, and they just want to talk to someone. Now, we receive nothing less than 25 calls a day, and we just started. As more students get to know about the counseling offer, the number will increase. We do not limit the offer to students from the district but from other districts in the state and even students from other states. We do not only counsel, we also follow up. We have a working relationship with social workers from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Public Defender of Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Health because some of these students have challenges beyond learning, and they need to be counseled appropriately and accordingly. I want to use this opportunity to thank all these ministries and agencies for their support.
Is the EDUGLOW idea only for students within District III? Can other students in other districts or states benefit from it?
EDUGLOW is for all students in Lagos and beyond particularly those who are not able to afford necessary devices to access online platforms. Although the idea was birthed in Education District III and the hard copies are printed and distributed at designated points here, the soft copies are sent to all public and private schools through appropriate channels and we have some good responses on the usage.
How sustainable is the EDUGLOW idea and what is the big picture for it?
EDUGLOW is about adding value to society. This is something we intend to do free of charge as long as we have sponsors. For now, we have only two sponsors and we will intensify effort in seeking more sponsors. Government cannot handle the task of education alone so we don’t intend to ask for funding from government. We have started with English Language and Mathematics, but we are planning to extend to other subjects. One unique thing about the EDUGLOW worksheets is that they are instructive as well as interactive. They have a combined textbook and workbook format.
What other proactive ideas is your district working on to better the lot of students?
Whatever idea or initiative we take in the district is to first ensure safety and then growth so that our students can compete globally. We are preparing them using various platforms. We are also introducing public speaking, diction, and any other competence building-skills to ensure their potentials are developed optimally. Everything is based on the needs of the students. We join hands with stakeholders for necessary provision and give orientation to parents to support their children at home.
What unprecedented steps is the current administration in Lagos taking toward transforming education in the state despite all odds?
The current administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has taken a giant step to infuse education with technology. Initially, the usage had been at the minimal level, but now it is heartwarming to see our students developing applications, and no child wants to be left behind. Our students are winning laurels, those who are not winning are doing fairly well within their capacity and striving to be better. I want to appreciate Mr. Governor and also the current Commissioner of Education in Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, who is so energetically desirous of a total transformation in education in the state. I am privileged to work for and alongside these two great leaders. I am glad to be part of this administration.
What advice do you have for today’s students in the light of the new normal that has been forced upon us by the pandemic?
There is no student that does not have a potential. Average, above or below right now, no child should feel disadvantaged. I would love every student to see himself or herself as someone that has something to contribute positively to society. And we as policy implementers are here to assist in bringing out the best in every student.