George Ola Odunoye is a pastor, teacher, administrator and executive director of St Gorge Schools, Ifo, Ogun State.
In this interview with Emmanuel Udom, editor, special investigations, George spoke on the short and long term effects of the covid-19 outbreak on the education and other sectors in Nigeria and why President Muhammed Buhari should seek the face of God on how best to tackle the virus.
Private and public schools hurriedly closed down in second term when the coronavirus hit town. What effects has this on the education and other sectors in the country?
I beg to disagree with you here. Private and public schools nationwide did not close down in a hurry. We completed our timetable and conducted examinations before closing for the term.
Okay. How about the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the education and other sectors in the country?
Yes. Let me thank the federal and state governments for tackling the virus, which began in China October last year, headlong.
But, let me be frank with you. There are positive and negative effects to the outbreak. Economies of individuals, states, corporate bodies, nations, etc, have collapsed and people are lying low. This is the negative side of the outbreak.
Also, take it, leave it, some teachers, and school owners, are fast losing interests in education. It is now runs for survival-hustling to make ends meet. Some have made money the fraudulent ways and some genuine ways this time.
Parents on the other hand are looking for money for food, not to save for school fees. Some economically weak schools, especially private schools could close shops as the owners are chasing daily streams of income.
But, government has introduced virtual learning?
Yes, this virtual learning project is fantastic and noble. But, how realistic? .How many parents, students, especially in nursery, primary and even secondary schools have phones, understands internet and know how to browse?
In my school, we are using the whatsapp platform. But, how do teachers, parents, and school authorities monitor the students, who are hawking or playing 24-7?
So, what is your advice to government at various levels in Nigeria at this point in time?
Government at various levels should have a re-think on lockdown and palliatives. In a country of over 200million people, 80% of these figure are living below the poverty line.
Therefore, there is hunger, anger and frustrations in our land. Yes, lockdown is the universally accepted mantra this time. But, an hungry man is an angry man, so the hustling spirit is in all of us.
Palliatives are selective, and I was compelled to buy some food items and distribute them to my teachers and those who worship in my church when they complained that the palliatives are not getting to them.
Buhari should pray hard and seek the face of God, Allah and how best to sort uff. We are all praying for him as well.