A leading organisation specialised in training, Executive Trainers, has charged tertiary institutions in the country on the need to equip themselves with the necessary know-how for higher education sustainability, amidst the pandemic.
The second edition of the event which was held virtually, yesterday, was themed, “Higher Education Innovation and Leadership After COVID-19”.
The event was kicked off by the host, the Chief Executive of Executive Trainers, Mrs Ajoke Ogunsan, who later introduced the guest speaker.
Speaking on the subjects of discussion, the guest speaker, Professor Olusola Akinrinade, discussed primarily on the fallouts from the pandemic and the elements considered as part of the tertiary institutions’ system response to COVID-19.
He added that all citadels of learning can take advantage of the pandemic, moving forward.
He highlighted the patent lack of knowledge of the populace and the peculiarity of the issues the pandemic has created. Akinrinade enjoined the authorities to guide and sensitise the populace on shunning laxity in adherence to the laid down COVID-19 guidelines.
He lamented that the 2020/21 academic year of all European and North American institutions have moved online, after realising the enormity of the pandemic challenge. He encouraged that the academic system should change the space in which they function and operate.
He emphasized that, although Nigeria has done brilliantly well in curbing the spread of other pandemic in the past, “We have never experienced any pandemic in the magnitude of COVID-19, especially with regards to education.
He downplayed closure of the higher education institutions to mitigate fallouts from the pandemic. Instead of outright closure, he advised that the appropriate response by the HE system should be to provide access to technology and e-learning materials.
According to him, “without a provision of the above mentioned, poorer students and those students at geographically dispersed regions stand a greater risk of being left out of an unconventional learning system.
“Besides the obstacles to effective response to COVID-19, the missing key problem which remains unreported is attitude.
“The right attitude would help create the solutions to the problems created by the pandemic.
“I advise all institutions to begin to focus more on how to continue learning than on how to reopen. Institutions must embrace online conduct of all their activities spanning from learning to administration, for academic life to continue. Institutions should not wait for the government as they can by themselves begin to look for a solution to enhance their infrastructures, provide access to appropriate ICT devices, improve connectivity and provide a conducive learning environment to accommodate for vulnerable students to learn.
“The method of teaching and research will be remodified as a result of the new normal situation. All activities should be moved online and should become more virtual.”
He further charged the leadership of institutions to up their standards to meet this new challenge. He believes that not only chief executives are leaders but everyone who has followership is a leader as well.
“There must be a deployment of digital solutions to combat the overcrowding of classrooms. Innovation for growth, development and institutional transformation can be classified into two — The innovation that is birthed from a new product as a result of a breakthrough. The second is an innovation birthed from the upgrade of an existing product or existing realities.
“Hinging on these two forms of innovation, where stages of transformation will ensue, firstly, central learning will continue while students will bear the cost of digital access. The second phase will be to liase with telecommunication providers to provide cheap and easy access to data. Lastly, the transformation to digital using ICT devices including electronic boards, etc.
“In conclusion, I believe that COVID-19 is a wake up call that Nigerian higher education institutions were clearly heading in the wrong direction in the context of teaching and learning.
“There is a need for communication between the government and Institutions; between teachers and parents as COVID-19 provides an opportunity for institutions to integrate technology into education so as to evolve our educational system to fit and meet up with 21st century institutions in the globe.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the event was the reaction from the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Osun State University, Mr Kolade Adegoke, who was invited to share how his institution is currently running her new university learning management system.
Kolade explained how they, as a university, were able to acquire an online system within six weeks which is currently working for the university. He advised that institutions should install fibre optics on their campuses.
Another discussant, Professor Francis Anyasi, lamented on the problem of connectivity affecting his institution, while Dr Jumoke Soyemi confirmed the use of Kusera – a teaching platform for communicating with students online. She encouraged other institutions to take a cue.