Reasons I’m Hopeful about the Future of Education
2020 was an unusual and challenging year for everyone, especially those in the education sector. It even became difficult to plan ahead, as uncertainty looms in the present day. While the abrupt shift to a remote environment forced schools to go online – an unfamiliar territory, it also opened up opportunities to improve and change the course of education. In a year that was filled with uncertainty and headaches, teachers still continued to teach their students in new innovative ways. We might have not been able to cover all the syllabus as we would in a normal year, but we were able to deliver a great deal of learning to the students.
According to our report in 2020, something became clear to us: COVID-19 has shown us ways to rethink and rebrand our current education system. As things go back to normal, thanks to the vaccine, we are now looking at the idea of blended learning. Therefore we must endeavor to change our old ways of learning pre-pandemic.
Here are reasons why I have hope for the future of Nigeria’s Education System;
Successful Learning can happen Online and in the Classroom
The pandemic has removed the normal idea that students can only learn in the four walls of the classroom. The lockdown has introduced us to a series of tools that allow students to learn fully while at home. Tools like Google Classroom, Zoom, and Telegram allowed students full participation in learning. One amazing feature of these tools is that it allows students to interact with their peers while the class is on – listening to the teacher alone can be boring and tiring.
It is interesting to see how teaching has evolved and we can learn online. We can also offer pre-recorded video of the class ahead of time, then the live class can serve as an interactive session and participation. Many thought that online learning will be the easy way out. While this has provided amazing benefits, we’ve also discovered that the need for in-person human interaction will never go away.
We are creating a generation of Independent, Self-sufficient Learners
Since we’re no longer in the classroom setting, students have no choice but to adapt and learn more independently than ever before. We often feel the need to help our students when we feel they are falling behind. However, it’s important to let students work through their challenges and be given the opportunity to hold themselves accountable.
The 2020/2021 WAEC result is one major indicator of how effective online learning is. We can see how many of our students excelled in their final exams even though more than half of their academic session was spent at home. In addition, many educators are considering what long-term changes we can make to the overall expectations.
Many view the five-day school week as outdated and inefficient. Instead, what if students were to spend part of the week in classrooms receiving direct instruction, and the rest of their time working independently at home, volunteering in their community, and taking part in internships at local businesses? After all, part of our goal as teachers is to encourage learners to take part in the world and gain real-life experiences both in and out of the classroom.
Parents are becoming Strong Advocates and Allies
The pandemic has proven time and again that no matter the situation, educators will rise to the occasion to meet the needs of their students. The same can be said of parents. Parents are no longer on the sidelines of education. Many of them are in the trenches with us day in and day out—providing ongoing support to their children, voicing their concerns, asking insightful questions, solving tech problems—even though they have their own work to complete.
While I know some sanity and normalcy will be restored to parents when we return to full-time in-person instruction, I’m hopeful that this level of investment will continue. Parental involvement benefits all children, especially those in low-income homes or those with different abilities. COVID-19 has demonstrated that involving parents should go beyond the parent-teacher conference. We should be engaging parents in discussions about the content and curricula we’re planning for the year and providing them with resources and strategies to support their child’s education.
Thanks to the pandemic, we have experienced firsthand the ups and downs of virtual learning. 2020 was a rough year, but looking into 2021, we see an opportunity. I’m hopeful that we will take and apply the lessons learned this year to build a brighter and stronger future for our children and our world.