Lagos State Commissiiner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, took part in a symposium organised via Zoom by the Association of Nursery and Primary Education instructors in Nigeria, ANPEIN, under the leadership of Mr. Sunday Fowowe. Among the participants was the Special Adviser to the Governor of Ogun State on Primary, Secondary and Technical Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo.The commissioner spoke on the theme “Choose your government, schools and home right in this dispensation to learn and live well.” Excerpts
By Elizabeth Osayande
ON school resumption for all pupils and students
Lagos State is approaching school resumption from three points of view. The first is safety. People need to feel safe and not just physically safe but emotionally safe when they come to school. This is something that we in the state must continue working on because it is not likely that this pandemic is going out anytime soon. So we must not plan for its end, we must plan for how to live with it. You have seen the safety guidelines, these are what I have insisted on that whatever standard we hold private schools by, we must hold our own schools by them.Therefore, we as public schools will keep to the safety standards. We in Lagos State are looking at the possibility of staggered resumption. That is children do not all come in at 8.00 a.m since they are going to be in schools for shorter periods owing to a terrible learning slide over shutdown. Therefore, we may probably lose third term. And beginning a new session, we have to start to think about how to teach the children via staggered resumption, children won’t have to come to school the same time. We are looking at time table for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for a set and Tuesdays, Thursday for another set. They will not spend up to four hours. Again, when we talk about physical safety, we are also going to look at a situation where we have to look at other stakeholders because of this COVID-19, you have to protect adults, the teachers, the administrators, and the parents as well.
Government provision towards providing safety at schools: In terms of physical safety, in which case we have to provide the schools with a lot of guidelines among others. Don’t forget during this period, a lot of things would have happened to the children. Some of them may have lost their loved ones. Some have been traumatised and sexually abuse.
So one of the things we are doing is that we have got all our districts together, there are free phone lines so that children can phone in and talk about their problems. As we must also take care of their emotional safety. And that is where all schools have to prepare for the guidance counsellors to be more active and more involved. And to really support the children emotionally and academically.
Learning and the curriculum: The second point we are to discuss is learning. The learning slide that occur during the pandemic must have severely affected a lot of things. For some, it is mild, to some it is major. And so, how do we address learning to ensure that the children are able to make up and able to continue with their studies? In Lagos State, we have talked about many things. But one thing is clear, because of the staggered resumption and staggered school days, we are going to have to think outside the box. We talked about developing a whole ecosystem. So, we know that at a point that there is will be physical school where the children will meet their teachers, do their works and submit their assignments among other things.
And secondly, we talked about the fact that we now supplement these on the days that they are off. And on the days they close early with additional learning. So that learning goes on and that children start to understand the 360 degree kind of learning situation. Because for me as a teacher, I believe every moment is a teachable moment. We have beef up online classes, we have already started giving devices to students; and we have started populating our pages with online contents. We are also looking at other novel solutions like Cloud based solution for children who are in areas with bad network among others. It is going to be ecosystem around teaching and learning.
The curriculum: Another thing we have to look at is our curriculum and there has been curriculum review We have agreed that we make the curriculum more nimbus and we are going to integrate learning methodology into our curriculum so that our teachers have understanding on how to integrate technology into their teaching and learning.
Resumption and assessment: The third factor. Remember I said safety, learning and assessment. Now, we cannot have children learning without assessing them. One of the things we are doing in this 360 degree ecosystem that we have drawn up is to use multiple system of assessments. So assessment will not only be a summative test at the end of the period, but will also be formative. Again, it is a culture change, a way of shifting paradigm. It is a way of making our teachers think differently. Summative test cannot tell you everything about a child’s learning. And that you should be willing to use multiple choice of learning for children in the school.
I am excited that the children will move into another mode of 100 percent learning. It is not easy and I am not glossing over the fact that I am finding this an extremely tough thing to do. But it is doable. And if we are trying to do all these in public schools, I can imagine what private schools will do. It is clear that it will not be the same. And when people say it is a new normal, I totally agree.
We are trying to invest in a serious culture change to lead to a new normal. It is going to be at both primary and secondary schools. I am glad we are working towards that. And I am particularly glad that we are going to be incorporating many schools as possible apart from our own public schools. So that in Lagos State, we are able to have a true 360 degree learning method.