Home-based learning in the wake of COVID-19

While schools are closed due to the lockdown and stay home order, UNICEF continues to support state governments in managing and monitoring home-based learning for children in Nigeria

Awwal Nasir
Learning at home
UNICEF Nigeria
01 July 2020

Happy Ogunbusiyi and her siblings sit on a mat around a transistor radio, listening intently and taking notes while their mother watches. Just a few months ago, these children in the small community of Ido, in Ekiti State, Nigeria, would have been sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher. But due to the lockdown and stay-at-home directives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to adapt to remote learning.

With the infection rate still rising, it is not certain when schools will eventually open for these children to return their classrooms.

In Ekiti and other states in southwest Nigeria, Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB) and Ministries of Education Science and Technology are using digital teaching and learning programmes to make sure that learning is not interrupted for pupils while the lockdown continues.

Lessons covering primary years 1-6 air on radio and television stations, and some are uploaded on dedicated websites. Assignments are often given during classes and learners are expected to complete and submit them online.

One parent, Aina Tunde, said the educational radio programmes enable his children to stay engaged during the lockdown. "They spend the thirty minutes of the radio programme learning, and a portion of the day working on their assignments," he said.

To enhance the effectiveness of home-based learning programmes, UNICEF Nigeria is providing technical support and ensuring that UNICEF Edu-Volunteers are part of the monitoring effort supporting state officials and parents.

These efforts help states track the number of children learning via the platforms. Feedback is received from callers on radio, television, and the websites during monitoring sessions, and assignments submitted are used as a performance indicator to measure the impact of programmes.

Like Happy Ogunbisiyi and her siblings, many children across Nigeria are benefiting from the e-learning programmes. Adepitan Kayode, a primary school pupil, said they have provided him with the opportunity to learn despite the continued stay-at-home order.

While the programmes have run smoothly in some areas, others have faced challenges such as poor internet connectivity, teaching and learning resource limitations, level of parents’ literacy, poor electricity supply, distractions, and high levels of poverty.

Overall, reports show that many parents and guardians subscribe to the programme, and also make efforts to ensure their wards have the support needed to participate. Most agree that the platforms have been useful and have helped reduce the negative impact of the stay-at-home order, allowing children to continue to learn even in difficult times.