A short online interview with Delta state commissioner for basic and secondary education, Patrick Ukah, on the e-learning taking place in the state.
How far reaching is the programme?
The first phase of the teleclass programme was targeted at JSS 3 and the SSS3 students preparing for external examinations like Basic Education School Examination (BESE) and West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) examinations. It was just revision classes for them. It was not designed for all the students in the state.
You will recall that second term had about two weeks to come to an end and students were to start the second term examinations when schools were closed down on 25th March 2020. The programme is therefore meant to bridge the gap between the lockdown period when schools are closed and when they will reopen.
In the first phase of the programme, we covered subjects like English Language, Mathematics and the science subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics), Prevocational and National Value Orientation studies. Now in the second phase which started on May 6, 2020, we have widened the scope of the programme by adding arts subjects such as Government and Economics. The teleclass will run until schools resume. The ministry is thinking of making the teleclass a permanent feature of our education service delivery in Delta State even after normal academic school activities have resumed.
What is the response from parents and the students?
Feedbacks from parents and the students have been positive and supportive. You know this is the first time this is done in Delta state. It is a novelty and has helped the parents manage their children and wards during this lockdown. Many parents send text messages to the Chief Inspectors of Education (CIEs) in the local government areas and even to the Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education hailing the programme.
Parents who could not organize or afford private tutorials for their children keyed into this programme. The students are also very enthusiast about the programme as they are very positive about it and have learnt a lot. Secondly, students who don’t have good teachers in the sciences and other key subjects because of shortage of teachers now had the opportunity of being taught by the best subject teachers in the state. Therefore, the gap between urban and rural schools was bridged by the teleclass programme.
What about the rural communities, is the programme reaching them?
We have covered Delta State adequately both urban, rural and riverine communities and all nooks and crannies of the state. We were very careful in selecting our media partners. We selected Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), Asaba and Warri radio and television, Bridge Radio FM, Asaba, and NTA, Asaba, to reinforce the coverage of Asaba capital territory and adjoining local government areas. We partnered with Quest radio and television stations, that covers rural communities in riverine areas in the Warri/Ughelli axis. We also selected Crown FM, Warri, and Rise FM, also in Warri. This programme is also available on the ministry’s social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) for the students to view at any time they want.
Do you think this is a good learning method for children in a less developed society?
The teleclass programme is not dependent on developed or undeveloped societies. It is suitable for all societies. E-learning should be adapted in any environment because from feedback so far, the parents are happy and the students benefited from it very well. Those families who have no tv set or power can rely on the radio which has wider coverage. Therefore, the programme is effective in causing student learning.
We understand that schools will be resuming tentatively on May 30th. How will social distancing be organised since children are very many in the public schools?
During his last broadcast to the people of the state, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, announced the closure of public and private schools till May 31, 2020. At the appropriate time, the Governor will make a broadcast again to announce the reopening of schools and the conditions under which schools will operate henceforth.
On our part, we are making preparations towards the reopening of the schools and all the stakeholders are being consulted to refine our plans for the eventual reopening of schools. Strategies and plans are in place to observe social distancing and all covid-19 sanitation rules as schools reopen. We will announce our plans at the appropriate time. We successfully managed the schools during the Ebola epidemic and the public is assured of the safety of the children on resumption