Covid-19 brought a huge challenge to education and literacy, First Bank of Nigeria Limited responded with a Rosetta stone of innovative e-learning initiatives that have far-reaching effects
Since 1967 that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been celebrating International Literacy Day to promote the importance of literacy and education, every September 8 had witnessed book gifting, book reading and related activities are undertaken by the UN body and its coalition of partners.
But this year is a departure as such enshrined activities are suspended and replaced with virtual meetings, a gesture that reflects the sign of the precarious situation of the world is as it is grappling with the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
Education has been in a state of limbo since schools––primary, secondary and tertiary institutions––and research institutes across the world were abruptly shut down as countries enforced lockdown to contain the ravages of the novel Covid-19. The disruption, a setback for education globally, inevitably fostered a lull in the effort to enhance literacy. And in the meantime, the world shifted to an alternative learning method which, by and large, is narrowed down to digital learning.
These challenges provided the backdrop for the theme of this year’s International Literacy Day: “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond,” which threw open discourse on how innovative and effective education and teaching methodologies are to be adopted or adapted in youth and adult literacy programmes during the period of the pandemic and beyond. In line with this thematic direction, countries are reviewing how they have fared in the new normal, and evaluation of various initiatives by individuals, corporate bodies and governments are being undertaken to ascertain how they align with the reality and what gaps needed to be filled.
For Nigeria, the stake is higher. Burdened with a high rate of illiteracy, inadequate digital infrastructure and an economy in dire straits, Nigeria has on its hand a challenging learning situation in the of the new order. The possibility of the country being further left behind in the race to literacy was writ large, an uncomfortable fact that raised several legitimate concerns bordering on how to ensure that students have access to learning resources, how they can be fully engaged to make them competitive internationally with their peers and how such engagement can help close the gap created by the closure of all educational institutions nationwide. While a cocktail of initiatives surfaced in the past few months to address these concerns and challenges, there was none as suitable, comprehensive and far-reaching as the e-learning initiatives of the First Bank of Nigeria Limited.