International Day of Education 2021 - Students express fear and hope for what the future holds

In 2020, Nigerian schools were shut down for about seven months due to the pandemic. During that time, UNICEF and its partners worked hard to help ensure children could access radio and television learning.

Rita Abiodun, Communication Assistant, UNICEF Nigeria
Pius' Portrait of students learning on the computer
PiusDivine/2021
25 January 2021

“I am happy to be back in school, but our activities have really changed, and I wonder if things will ever return to the way they were before COVID-19 happened.”

These are the words of just one Nigerian student, Pius, as the country’s schools re-open amidst rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Pius, 15, and his friend Chukwuemeka, 14, have started drawing to express their worry and hope about education during the pandemic era.

“The state of education today inspired my drawing. From what I see in movies, read in books and hear in the news, it’s clear that we are already far behind, especially students like me who attend public schools,” said Pius.

A boy on a t-shirt
UNICEFNigeria/2021
Pius Divine

“Due to COVID-19 pandemic and the need to observe physical distancing, we now attend classes only two or three times in a week. If I can access the internet, I will be able to continue learning, especially on days that I don’t attend school.”

Pius

In 2020, Nigerian schools shut down for about seven months due to the pandemic. Some students who could access the internet continued to learn virtually. UNICEF and its partners worked hard to help ensure children could access radio and television learning, but many children in rural communities were left behind.

“School used to be a place of learning and fun but that has changed for me. Every day I go to school, I am afraid that I may get infected with the coronavirus and spread it to my family. The public school that I attend in Lagos State is doing its best to ensure that we stay physically distanced, but with the limited space, there is only so much we can do to stay distanced,” said Chukwuemeka.

A boy on a t-shirt
UNICEFNigeria/2021
Chukwuemeka Ndego

“My friend and I believe that access to computer and the internet should be a basic right for every child. We missed a lot during the lockdown and now that we can’t attend school daily due to the pandemic, I believe we should continue our classes online on days that we don’t attend classes. But that is just a wish, because many of us don’t have a computer in our family.” 

Chukwuemeka
Portrait of a boy on his phone
ChukwuemekaNdego/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has made access to the internet even more critical for children. It has revealed that despite restrictions on movement, a lot can be achieved online – both learning and working.

As we recover and revitalize education for the ‘COVID-19 generation’, we need to ramp up efforts to bridge the internet divide – especially for rural communities - and ensure that no child is left behind in accessing quality education.