The administrator, St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, (SFCSS) Idimu, Lagos, Rev. Fr. Maduabuchi Leo Muoneme, S.J. has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has totally reformed teaching.
In a chat with Daily Sun, Muoneme said: “Online teaching is now an integral part of education. Our school would start running a summer online programme developed as the St. Francis Jesuit Summer Online School –Head Start. The technology would be used to prepare interested Nigerian students for the next academic year, consequently giving them a head start.”
He said that the practice would be a systematic preparation for WAEC and NECO examinations and for junior and secondary school students.
He said: “It is an improvement on last year’s summer online school, which would involve synchronous online assessments.”
Muoneme said with the challenges of physical distancing posed by the COVID-19, the school has to adapt to the innovative way of teaching and learning.
“I know it has not been perfect for us. We encountered teething problems, and we need to keep fine-tuning, mindful that when the coast is clear, the time-honoured style of education will not be the same again.”
The school administrator said his school cannot fold its arms and keep hoping for a return to normalcy. He said: “It is evident that we need to start planning for the post COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need for us to also synergize campus education and virtual education, and the probability of a second wave of COVID-19.
“In anticipation for that, SFCSS has a vision of strengthening the backbone of her online education and also creating a robust system of doing online teaching during the next academic year. With the support of parents and donors, we dream of providing standard educational tablets
“The plan, God willing, is to ensure that each tablet is loaded with e-books and educational software packages necessary to study, explore research, calculate, and write computer-based exams. We equally plan to safeguard the tablets with features that will protect the minors from plunderers and internet sites that are decadent.”
For the above vision to be realised, he appealed to parents to fully support this dream—morally and financially. “Besides physical notebooks, our fees for next academic year will include provision for customised digital tablets with educational and technological tools to enhance the holistic formation of the students and to prepare them for the 21st century. Things have changed; times have changed; and the era is changing.
“We will not leave the children behind. They need to be relevant for the future. If we re-imagine the future, we will see the future alumni of SFCSS working in different types of work environments—surroundings that are synergies or hybrids of physical work place and virtual workspaces. Teachers and parents are already living and working in this hybrid space. It will be much more sophisticated for children of this generation,” he observed.
He said that the school cannot stop the natural evolution towards the digital world. He noted that e-learning and e-assessment would also prepare students better for standardised tests like American College Tests, UTME (JAMB), e-enrichment programmes, as well as equip them with leadership tools, entrepreneurship tools, robotics, and relevant artificial intelligence (AI) for the 21st Century.
But Muoneme revealed that the school would need funding to build capacity for e-learning. He said: “Our e-learning platforms also need to be updated. We want to procure more devices and equipment to facilitate e-learning. Part of our vision is to build two e-learning studios with large touch screens that will boost the learning of the sciences on-line.
“These will be physical studios, but they will be linked to the clouds. Our sister college, Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja recently created such a lab. We need to be prepared for a second wave or even a third. Therefore, in the clouds, we also intend to design virtual Teachers’ Staff Rooms, virtual Administration Room, virtual Bursary Room, virtual Symphony Orchestra Room, virtual Psychological and Spiritual Support Rooms, virtual Personal Social Education (PSE), and virtual Physical Exercise Room.”
He said that the management of the school would secure internet connectivity for all teachers and students and design charging points in classrooms, laboratories, and staff rooms for students and teachers. He observed that education would definitely never be the same after COVID 19 pandemic.
On the two weeks given by the government for exiting students to sit for this year’s West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE), Muoneme opined that it was definitely too short. He noted, however, that conscientious students have not been sleeping.
His words: “Many took advantage of the lockdown to deepen their knowledge and expand their thoughts. The long wait however could have created a general sense of dormancy, so with the remaining days we have, we have no option but to activate the mental lives of the students and sharpen their thoughts in preparation for their final secondary school exams so that they all graduate with flying colours from this citadel of learning.
“One of our students Mr Akakabota Fejiro Simeon is among the best ten 2020 UTME candidates out of 1.9 million students in Nigeria. He scored 352. He has been honoured by the Nigerian Society of Engineers with a scholarship to study Mechanical Engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile Ife.
“Also in the 2020 Children’s Day Essay Competition organised by System Specs, Edem Akaniyene Shawn, in JS2 in our school, emerged in the top 10 Honour’s List – Junior Category. Both the senior and junior categories had about 2000 students from 500 schools across Nigeria. We need young people who dream of Nigeria where things work; people that can realise their full potential based on the optimal utilization of technology.”