The president, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, has said a major challenge of e-learning in Nigeria is unaffordability.
This was in reaction to the virtual learning which most tertiary institutions across the country have adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ogunyemi who spoke with The PUNCH in an interview, explained that since students were not on campus, they had to fund their data and power supply saying, there could be problem if they didnot have computers or android phones.
He said, “Students will face the challenge of cost of data when they are not on campus. The access to WiFi provided by the government can assist them to have seamless e-learning. But when it comes to students staying away from campus and they have to fund their data and power supply, where they don’t have computer or android phone, you know there could be problem. Some students are already complaining in some of the universities where they are doing the virtual learning.
“This online teaching/learning that we have been talking about, the major problem here is affordability issue. This issue could come up on the part of students where they don’t have the tools, where they can’t afford the data access and where they don’t have the supporting environment. Imagine an undergraduate that lives in a one-room apartment with two to four children and their parents,;I mean you have that kind of scenario in some places. Maybe at best, they have a room and parlor. They may have issue of a conducive environment, continuous data supply. So, affordability would come into picture at individual level and even the university in some cases. Because even where they provide WiFi and others, they need to continue to pay the service providers and so on.”
He emphasised that the online school was a good decision, adding that it was important the main goal was not defeated due to the aforementioned challenges.
“In all of these, it is a good thing that we are going beyond the physical teaching and learning which people now call the new normal. But we need to actually plan for it, it is not something we just dabble into and somewhere along the line we see frustration on the part of students, staff and even the administration. It has to be subsidised for it to be affordable that is the point I’m trying to make.
“You cannot just tell staff that you are going digital without providing data for them. This is because after sometime, they will complain about the extra expenses accrued due to data and others. Likewise, students can begin to avoid the online classes and at the end of the day the goal we want to achieve with e-learning, will not be achieved.
“When you talk of e-learning there are issues surrounding it that need to be well understood and addressed to make it seamless and achieve its goals,” he said.