With COVID-19 altering education process and delivery globally, educators and learners must learn to accept and live by the new normal to enable development.
This was the resolve of experts at a webinar organised by Lagos State Agency for Mass Education, as part of activities to commemorate year 2020 occasion of International Literacy Day.
Experts at the occasion also stressed the need for facilitators and learners, particularly in the adult learning set-up to update their digital skills to be able to cope with present time realities.
In her address themed, ” The Impact of COVID-19 on Youths& Adult Literacy Education, Lessons Learnt & Way Forward “, Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos, Dr. Blessing Anyikwa,observed that the event of COVID-19 has widened social and digital divide among learners.
She worried that the situation will further aggravate learning disparities amongst adult learners.
Anyikwa urged government to equip learning centres with technology infrastructure to assist both teaching and learning process, that will make education accessible to all.
She also invited private investors to partner with state government in the area of technology to support the drive for mass literacy.
She said, “In the past, adult learning/ teaching could be done in a class but with the new normal, it could take place as an activity in the home setting.
“The present situation has underscored the need for increased investment in adult and youth literacy education. There is urgent need to integrate digital formats of learning into the curriculum for adult teaching and learning. Moreso, access to digital services should be made affordable such that will include all in the process.”
“We must take advantage of this crisis to pause, analyse and then re-think adult/ youth literacy education that we have known until now. This means that a lot more needs to be done in sensitisation and training of stakeholders to help eradicate illiteracy as much as possible. This actually is the essence of International Literacy Day celebration.”
Also speaking, Chief Lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Dr. Adejoke Ajayi pointed out that there is need to embrace alternative strategies to continue and sustain the gains of adult education in Lagos state .
In her discourse on “Bridging the Gap between Policy and Reality in Adult Teaching and Learning in COVID-19 Crisis”, Ajayi identified the alternative strategies that can be adopted to make learning continue unhindered inspite of the pandemic.
She said, “there are options of ‘distance learning through radio and television’ ; ‘small group learning’, this prescribes five learners per shift in an open space; ‘self family learning’ where educated family members can teach non-literates at home.
“There is also the strategy of ‘each one teach one’ where a literate member of the society teaches a non literate to read and write as well as the option of ‘learning with a facilitator on the phone’ where a facilitator calls the learner on phone to teach”.
Ajayi also prescribed motivation strategies for facilitators and learners by way of quiz competition and rewards, amongst others, to spur desired results.
Ajayi recognised that Lagos state has been exemplary in the area of adult and youth education with impressive achievements to show for it.
She advised on the need to explore alternative learning strategies highlighted earlier to be able to bridge the gap between government policy and the reality of COVID-19.
Earlier, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab enlightened on why the International Literacy Day is observed globally.
He said, “the day is observed every September 8 to raise awareness and remind people of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights”.
With this year’s theme as, “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond,” Wahab said that this year’s event sought to explore literacy from the perspective of global disruption.
The Director,Lagos State Agency for Mass Education Mrs Oluwakemi Kalesanwo, restated the state’s commitment to mass literacy.
She implored learners to catch up with the state’s literacy by radio programme (mooko mooka) which comes up every Wednesday and Saturday on Eko FM 107.5.