DISRUPTION OF EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND PROPOSED RESPONSES
The Federal Ministry of Education on the 19th of March, 2020 ordered the immediate closure of tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools Nationwide effective from the 20th March, 2020. The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has observed with growing concern developments related to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The life-threatening nature and rapid transmission of this disease has been felt globally .
HOW NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES ARE RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The CVC is pleased to note the active participation of one of our Centres of Excellence; Having received samples for testing and research earlier from China, The Genomics of Infectious Disease (ACEGID) at Redeemer’s University, Ede, Nigeria is leading the way in fighting COVID-19 in high-end research towards finding a cure for this deadly virus. We solidly believe in them and believe that they will rise to this challenge just like the Ebola epidemic in 2016.
THE OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY COVID-19
The COVID-19 safety measures that have been announced by the Nigerian Government in relation to the closing educational institutions and banning gatherings have a negative impact on the continuation of teaching, learning and research activities of HEIs. Even though this appears to be a negative outcome, we see it as an opportunity in which Nigerian universities see the importance of technology in our Universities. Coincidentally, our 2020 Annual AVCNU conference coming up in August 2020, will focus on amongst other topics, the introduction of technology based platforms for teaching, learning and research. At this critical period with the government calling for social distancing and most experts unable to project the timeline for the total extinction of this pandemic, Universities would have migrated from the traditional classroom teaching to technology- supported teaching and learning, virtual/online classes and tests/assessments/examinations. This we believe has served as an eye opener for the Nigerian Higher education institutions ,we must therefore move decisively to Institutionalize technology based teaching and learning and eLearning management systems installed on our campuses..
PRECAUTIONS RECOMMENDED BY THE CVC
The CVC is adding its voice to the precautions already announced by the Federal Government of Nigeria. These steps are necessary to reduce the impact of COVID-19. The CVC therefore urges all Nigerian Universities to consider the following:
1. Abide by the public notices and advice issued by the Federal Government and other relevant authorities, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic such as avoiding large gatherings, avoid handshakes, providing hand sanitizers , the ban of all international travels e.t.c
2. Teach and learn about the COVID 19 virus. This includes engaging with communities (via non-physical means) to educate them on preventive measures and correct the growing misinformation about the pandemic; educate various stakeholders against COVID-19 related discrimination and provide support for students and faculty in isolation.
3. Ensure all electronic channels of communication are always activated and fully functional to facilitate ongoing engagements with the universities’ communities.
4. Encourage social distancing amongst students and surrounding communities – most especially the youths; most are not fully aware that the pandemic is real.
5. Limit movements as much as you can.
6. Follow daily updates regarding the situation of the COVID 19 virus in Nigeria online, through already set up platforms for updates. This can be found on Nigeria Center for Disease Control Website (NCDC) website, and Federal Ministry of Health Website .
7. Hourly updates on twitter; @FmohNigeria and @NCDC respectively.
Stay Safe Everyone.
Professor Yakubu A. Ochefu
1. Various resources are provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance)
2. National Centers for Diseases Control in African countries (e.g. Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is on Twitter via @NCDCgov)
3. The Commonwealth of Learning various Resources and Tools on the COVID-19 crisis: https://www.col.org/news/press-releases/keeping-doors-learning-open-covid-19
4. Free access to the scientific literature on COVID-19: https://pages.semanticscholar.org/coronavirus-research
5. EDUCAUSE Resource Web Page on COVID-19: https://library.educause.edu/topics/information-technology-management-and-leadership/covid19
6. The Chinese Experience in Maintaining Undisrupted Learning in COVID-19 Outbreak: https://iite.unesco.org/news/handbook-on-facilitating-flexible-learning-during-educational-disruption/
7. African Union Commission Briefings on COVID-19: https://au.int/en/videos/20200319/press-briefings-coronavirus-disease-outbreak