COVID-19 exposes imbalance in access to education – former minister

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By Usman Aliyu

Ilorin, Sept. 29, 2020 Former Minister of Sports, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, has said that the inability of public schools to key into virtual teaching has exposed the imbalance in access to quality education in the country.

Abdullahi stated this on Tuesday while speaking with journalists on the sideline of the final ceremony of the maiden Spelling Competition he sponsored for students of public secondary schools in Kwara.

He said the competition, organised by the Saving Dreams Foundation, was to help improve the learning ability of public school students.

Abdullahi explained that one of the proofs of the imbalance was how the children attending private schools were still having access to education in spite of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that their counterparts in the public schools could not get access to education during the lockdown.

“There are different categories of imbalance. The first category is what you see in the country where some people are having private education while others are in public schools.

“If we have learnt one lesson from COVID-19, then we need to address the issues of inequality to Information and Communication Technology and the internet in terms of education,” Abdullahi said.

The former Commissioner for Education in the state also said that the pandemic had shown that internet technology was no longer a luxury, but a necessity for advancement in the education system.

“It has now become the basic tools for learning. We have to work very hard to expand the penetration of the internet to the rural areas.

“This is because it makes the difference on whether a child would have opportunity to learn or not as we have seen in the last seven to eight months.

“So that is one level of inequality and imbalance that we must address,” Abdullahi said.

He urged policy makers to create equal opportunities that would ensure every child got quality education regardless of the economic status of parents.

“The biggest challenge is how we create equal opportunities to ensure a child gets education regardless of whether the parents have money or no.

“Because what is happening now is that the opportunities or the chances that a child will get education depend on the economic status of the parents who can afford to pay for private schools.

“So, you know, it should not be so because at the end of the day, we are building a society and no society can survive on that kind of imbalance,” Abdullahi said.

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