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Columnists

Rethinking Inclusive Education: COVID-19 realities, post implications on education

Prior to the pandemic, there have been efforts geared towards addressing educational inequity and ensuring that children everywhere are learning. One of such is the Inclusive education program.

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COVID-19, Education

Throughout history, we have seen that for every event that affects our lives, there are several unintended consequences. Over the past months, the world has grappled with the impact of COVID-19. Primarily a health-related issue, its impact is far-reaching and one area which has been significantly affected is education. All over the world, schools have been forced to close, and Nigeria is not left out.

The Realities We Find in Nigeria 

Prior to the pandemic, there have been efforts geared towards addressing educational inequity and ensuring that children everywhere are learning. One of such is the Inclusive education program.

Inclusive education, as identified by Inclusive education Canada, is about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a responsive way. It is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, and programs so that all students can learn and participate.

But can we estimate how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education? Are the estimated 46 million students forced to stay at home in Nigeria still learning? With the uncertainty regarding how long the shutdown will last, there have been several interventions to ensure that students are still learning.

In line with global trends, highbrow private schools in the country have adopted a virtual learning model. However, a significant number of students in the Nigerian educational system are found in public schools.

For this category of learners, what happens to them? Also, some state governments have introduced television and radio learning but one can observe that almost 70% of states in the country have done nothing to meet the learning needs of these students. Again, we see education take a back seat.

(READ MORE: Emefiele insists CBN will not sell forex for importation of items produced in Nigeria)

Furthermore, in a country like Nigeria with an epileptic power situation, another reality hits. Do all homes have access to electricity to view television programs and how many homes have access to a television? This is vital as approximately 44% of our population is living in extreme poverty, according to the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

As a teacher in a public primary school in Kaduna, Muktar is faced with this reality. Among the 154 students in his class, 40% of them lack access to either a television or radio while 55% lack access to a consistent power supply. This means that the chances of more than half of his students not accessing any of the educational programs is very high. How do they learn during this pandemic?

Whilst we agree that radio is a good fit for reaching a wide audience, the question is, how many subjects can be effectively taught over the radio? In responding to this, we need to remember the learning styles of students, the time it takes to understand what is being transmitted, and their different learning environments.

Would Sule in Minna have the same learning experience as Hajara in Osogbo? One thing we can be certain of is, as it stands, the educational inequity gap would be further widened post-COVID-19.

In attaining inclusive education, nutrition plays a crucial part. Fundamentally, the homegrown school feeding program was introduced to meet this need. However, with the absence of school meals, a lot of students nationwide, even with access to learning opportunities, may be learning with little or no food intake thereby impeding the learning process.

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It is also becoming clearer that we cannot completely tech our way out of the current situation. Although technology plays a huge role, we need to start addressing the fundamental issues in our society- one of which is the quality of teachers in the system. Can the existing teachers run a fully functional education technology system?

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Also, what infrastructure can be put in place to cater to all students in the system irrespective of location? As an offshoot of the above, another reality still remains that the rate of internet penetration is not evenly spread across the country and the cost of data is still relatively high.

(READ MORE: US supports Nigeria with $32.8 million for COVID-19, over $5billion on health in 20 years)

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Going Forward 

It has become obvious that going forward, there will be a call to re-evaluate our educational system to truly achieve inclusive education. In doing this, there is no one size fits all strategy. However, the first step in proffering any solution is to know the people for whom the solution is meant. It is high time we had real data about the diverse population in the country. We need to understand the different types of learners in the country, where they are, and their learning needs.

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Also, our learning methodology needs to be revisited. Our institutions and methodologies are being tested; it can no longer be business as usual. We need to act and the time to start acting is now. We need to start putting the right infrastructure and personnel in place in our educational system.

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In conclusion, these words from Bill Gates summarises all we have said; the disease is both a symptom and cause of inequity. Today, it is COVID-19; tomorrow, it could be another pandemic. But in all, they are all fuelling the inequity gap.


This article was written by Godwin Henry and Muktar Agbadi.

Godwin Henry  is an Alumnus (2017 Cohort) of Teach For Nigeria, and Muktar Agbadi is a 2018 Teach For Nigeria fellow currently serving in Kaduna State

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MATAIMAKI T. MAIYASHI

    May 22, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    The article has raised some of the most critical issues around inclusiveness in the delivery of education in our nation. No one will dispute the reality that our education delivery has been extremely poor, discriminatory,characterized by inadequacy in teacher provision, instructional materials,infrastructure and very poor an unaccountable governance. With the devastation of COVID 19, The complications can be imagined. Our planning capacity is weak, primitive politics has beclouded our sense of reasoning, and we have failed realise that overall implication of a poor education delivery system bears grave consequences in the building of democracy, human dignity, human happiness, and human development. WE will God knows for how long, stagnate in a deepening social and economic instability, generating disaffection, inequality, divisions and ultimate strangulation of the Nigerian nation.
    Going forward we need to immediately institute a competent team to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of where were prior to COVID 19, and new issues that the effect of COVID has generated. This is no tea party. A dispassionate analysis will certainly bring us face to face with the stark realities which we must own – up to!
    Only then shall we be able develop a strategic holistic plan on how to proceed going forward.
    Time is not our friend!

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Columnists

Central Bank of Nigeria; resuscitating an ailing economy

Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, the monetary authority has continued to introduce measures to support economic recovery.

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Banks' stakeholders express 4 main concerns bothering the sector right now, CBN, MARKET UPDATE: CBN’s historic agriculture lending; Is it yielding the desired results? 

Recently, the financial policy and regulation department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a circular announced the extension of the regulatory forbearance on its intervention facilities to Institutions impacted by the dampening economic effect of the lingering coronavirus pandemic for an additional year.

Though the country has exited recession according to the latest GDP report, the beneficiaries of these facilities still require regulatory support to completely get back to business before assuming the burden of servicing those facilities.

Earlier in 2020, the CBN had given the initial forbearance following the complete stall in economic activities brought about by the need to community transmission following the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic is nipped in the bud.

Consequently, the interest on the facilities was revised from 9.0% to 5.0%, with a one-year moratorium given on all principal repayments from 01 March 2020. Following the expiration of this forbearance, the CBN has announced the extension for another 12 months of the discounted interest rates for the CBN facilities. However, the rollover of the moratorium on these facilities will be considered on a case by case basis.

Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, the monetary authority has continued to introduce measures to support economic recovery. The Bank has continued to extend support to industries that were hit by the negative effect of the coronavirus through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) Commodity Association, Private/Prime Anchors, State Governments, Maize Aggregation Scheme (MAS), and the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), among others.

Yesterday, the CBN considering the impact of the economic frailties on the Nigerian poultries value chain and industries, released 50,000mtn of maize to cushion shortage of supply. Consequently, the price per metric tonne of maize has dropped to N180,000/metric tonne from N200,000/metric tonne, with an expectation that it would further plunge.

We acknowledge that farming activities have been significantly affected in 2020 due to covid-19 movement restrictions during the planting season as well as abnormal rainfall patterns which led to flooding of farmlands and the farmers/herders clashes which remain a significant threat to agricultural productivity.

These unfortunate events have led to a spike in food prices reflected in the food inflation rate of 20.57% in January 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Thus, we consider the provision of reliefs for farmers important to restore farming activities and output level back to pre-covid levels.

While we welcome these interventions given Nigeria’s current precarious economic situation, and how it has burdened businesses, we are of the view that the government needs to also keep an eye on resolving long-standing structural bottlenecks to truly maximise the full potential of Nigerian businesses.


CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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Columnists

Why NNPC should be commercialised

A commercialized NNPC with more committed employees would mean better accountability and transparency in its operations.

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NNPC reports explosion at OML 40 facility

The Nigerian government is seeking efficient ways of positioning the country on its path to recovery and the petroleum industry which contributes about 90% of its exchange earnings would undoubtedly be critical on this journey.

The long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which seeks to regulate the entire Nigerian Petroleum Industry and repeal a host of existing legislation is paramount in transforming the industry and introducing more efficiency particularly in its government-owned parastatals. The PIB has gained more traction in the current administration and is now awaiting deliberations by legislators.

A key highlight of the PIB is commercializing the State-run behemoth, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). This move would see the NNPC incorporated as a Limited Liability Company and be known as NNPC Limited. This company would conduct its affairs on a commercial basis without resorting to using government funds.

While this might seem like a bold move by the government, it still should not come off as a surprise…

Owing to the fall in crude oil prices from over $100/barrel to below $50/barrel levels in 2020, Nigeria’s exciting story with crude oil slowed down but has picked up in recent months. The country’s heavy dependence on the volatile crude oil market and its ineptitude in diversifying during its “oil-rich” days have now thrown its growth story in jeopardy. The once 3rd-fastest growing economy with foreign reserves in excess of $40bn now wallows in rising inflation complemented and a weakened currency.

Why do we need to commercialize NNPC?

A core theme with a number of government-owned parastatals is the plague of inefficiency and obscurity in the way they are run. To give an idea of the NNPC’s lack of transparency, the corporation only published the group’s audited financial statements for the first time in its 43 years of operation in 2020. It’ll be right to commend this administration is pushing for transparency but you can go on to imagine what went on during those opaque years of operation.

As expected, the results were not impressive. The corporation reported a recurring loss, albeit 70% lower in 2019. The significant reduction in losses may prove the government’s will in improving the operations of the NNPC, however, comments on the report noted that “material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the Group and Corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Moving down to the State-owned refineries with a combined capacity of 445,000 bpd, capacity utilization well below 20%, and recurring annual losses in excess of ₦150bn, we can agree that the condition of these refineries is utterly worrisome. Despite the government’s annual budget for Turn Around Maintenance of these refineries, they have now been shut down with plans to undergo a Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) model.

Chief among the NNPC’s problems is corruption. A number of investigative reports have explained how subsidy payments, domestic crude allocation, revenue retention practices, and oil-for-product swap agreements are smeared with corruption. The Senate has initiated countless probes and new management seeking transparency has been introduced by the President, however, it just seems like the rot has eaten too deep into the system.

What does commercializing NNPC mean for the country?

The government-managed NNPC has proved to be inefficient and riddled with corruption. A commercialized NNPC with more committed employees would mean better accountability and transparency in its operations. The possible introduction of more shareholders would strengthen the amount of funding available to the NNPC and further shift the burden of being the sole-financier away from the government.

Exploring an NNPC IPO

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) would see the NNPC’s shares traded on Stock Exchanges and position the corporation to raise much more funding, build trust and endear to the international community. While this might seem like a daunting task, Nigeria can perhaps take a cue from Saudi Arabia whose National Oil corporation; Saudi Aramco began raising capital for its IPO in December 2019.

The Saudi Crown Prince; Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) announced a valuation of $2trn enticing the world’s largest investment banks, appointed a new set of leaders on the board of the corporation, and executed a highly engaging local marketing strategy. Although the valuation figure was brought down to $1.5 – $1.7 trillion by financial advisors, Saudi Aramco successfully achieved its IPO raising nearly $26 billion for 1.5% of Aramco’s value.

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NNPC’s fundamentals might not support an IPO currently as investors might be wary of the high level of risks involved but we can’t deny the immense opportunities an IPO would present not just for NNPC’s transparency and performance but Nigeria’s economic reform.

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In Conclusion

The recurring performance of the corporation with several corruption allegations, inefficiency, and unclarity is indeed worrisome. It is time to have the NNPC turn over a new leaf and operate on a commercial basis. This would afford the government the ability to deploy funds into other segments of the economy and have the NNPC focus on being a commercially viable entity.

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