By Adebayo Obajemu

The raging Coronavirus pandemic has continued to have negative, devastating toll on education. A sizable number of school- attending children have been out of school since March due to the pandemic. According to experts, the education would suffer more than any other sector after health.

Prof. Aderemi Adewale, an education psychologist at Kogi State University said the pandemic has had a massive impact on education and the future of the young.

“In my personal survey in six local governments in the state, about 55 percent of school-age children have not been to school since March as a result of COVID-19. The impact is due to closure of schools, but more importantly because of poverty as the pandemic has hit hard on the income of artisans and low-income earners, making it difficult for them to send their children back to school.”

This position is affirmed by another expert, Prof. Nurudeen Ahmed of the Education Department of Brigham University, who in a chat with this medium said there is a urgent need for government to take steps to change the situation.

“Unless the federal and state government intervened, the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt, as we may continue to witness down spiral in educational enrolment and a diminish in attendance as a result of pandemic-induced poverty.”

In a recent survey conducted by The World Bank, 45% of school-aged household members have not engaged in any learning activities since mid-March.

The survey has shown that 45% of school-aged household members (aged 5-18 years) have not been to school or engaged in any education or learning activities since mid-March. This effort is subsumed in a series of survey by World Bank global effort to support countries in their efforts to monitor the impacts of COVID-19.

The Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (COVID-19 NLPS) 2020 has revealed that 45% of school-aged household members have not engaged in any education or learning activities since mid-March.

Dr. David Anjorin of the Ahmadu Bello University told BH that “Unless federal and state government intervene by way of education palliatives, many children may not be able to return to school due to lack of money to send them back to school; as some parents’ incomes have been badly affected by the pandemic.”

The 6th round of a planned 12 rounds of the COVID-19 NLPS of households in Nigeria was implemented by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) between October 9 and 24, 2020 and had two key innovations.

The first innovation, and relevant in this context, was to collect specific information on education for up to six school-aged household members (5-18 years). This allows for more detailed individual-level analysis of school-aged household members, making it possible to: “Verify the trends from previous rounds that were reported for all children collectively (rather than individually).

Efforts were made to examine differences in school attendance and engagement in learning activities across key individual characteristics such as sex and age. The second innovation was to ask households directly about their perceptions of and willingness to engage in testing and vaccinations for COVID-19.

Key highlights

School attendance in October 2020 was substantially lower than in January/February 2019. Among household members aged 5-18 years, 59% were attending school in October 2020 compared to 74% in January/February 2019.

The main reason that school-aged household members did not attend school in October 2020 –reported for 57% of those who were not attending school – was that schools were still closed due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Among household members who were of school-aged in both January/February 2019 and October 2020, about 50% were attending school both in January/February 2019 and in October 2020, while around 9% reported attending school only in January/February 2019 but not in October 2020.

The share of male school-aged household members who attended school was almost 17 percentage points lower in October 2020 than in January/February 2019. The share of female school-aged household members who attended school was around 14 percentage points lower.

The drop in attendance was larger in urban areas (25 percentage points lower) than in rural areas (12 percentage points lower).

The main reason that school-aged members did not attend school in October 2020 – reported for 57% of those who were not attending school – was that schools were still closed due to the coronavirus restrictions.

But those who were not attending for this reason, almost all (99.9%) are planning to attend school after their schools reopen.

Additionally, around 27% of those school-aged household members in the oldest age group (15-18 years old) who were not attending school reported that the main reason for non-attendance was that they were awaiting admission.

Implication

The fact that 45% of school-aged household members have not engaged in leaning activities since mid-March emphasizes the importance of helping children catch-up for the time they missed at school.

Thus, it is imperative that schools resume as soon as possible in order to ensure that students in general, especially those not currently learning from home catch-up quickly.

Dr. Olufemi Omoyele of the Department of Management, Redeemers University said that “We should know that notwithstanding that school closure is the main reason why school-aged household members were not attending school across all consumption quintiles, lack of money remains an important reason among individuals from the poorest households (16% of those not attending).”

Recall that in April 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with support from the World Bank, launched the COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS) – a monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,950 households, to monitor the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks.

World Bank teams from the Development Data Group and the Poverty and Equity Global Practice provided technical support in conducting the survey. The first round (baseline) of the survey was conducted in April/May 2020, during which a federally mandated lockdown was in full effect.

The survey is part of a World Bank global effort to support countries in their data collection efforts to monitor the impacts. Many are of the view that governments at all levels need to launch education palliative in January to stem the tide of growing number of dropouts due to the impact of COVID.