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Niger Delta school children in COVID-19 era

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BY JOEL BENALAYEFA FESINGHA, ETHEL EMUESIRI OGHENECHOJA, FAVOUR ESINONE AND JOSHUA WILLIAMS

The CORONA VIRUS (COVID 19) has emerged as one of the deadliest virus to have struck the world. This virus has placed the whole world including the world superpowers on standstill as it affected virtually all the sectors ranging from the very vital ones like the health sector, educational sector and the economic sector to the less burdensome sectors like the waste management sector. It is an obvious fact that our very own country, Nigeria has also been severely affected by the virus. However, this article will be focusing on the effects of the virus on the Niger-Delta school children not just on their education but also on their family lives and day to day activities during this pandemic.

Niger-Delta is the south- south region of Nigeria, comprising of the nine oil producing states which are; Ondo, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Rivers and Imo states respectively. Worthy of note is the fact that these states account for nearly 80% of the country’s economy since Nigeria’s major revenue comes from crude oil. The educational sector however has been one which has been at the forefront of the success of many nations as more and more nations are beginning to embrace the idea of being “educated” in a school system. However , it is no news that that the covid 19 has also dealt a huge blow to the educational sector and so this article aims to show how the Niger-Delta child’s schooling has been affected by the virus.

Speaking to some sources who begged to be anonymous, we were able to garner some information as observed by these sources. Surprisingly, some of them were able to pin-point positive effects of the corona virus world pandemic.

According to these observations, one very notable negative impact of the pandemic is the rise in crime rate which involve majorly children between the ages of 15 to 25 years. Prior to this time, most of these students who were not engaged in skill acquisition were engaged educationally but with the emergence of the virus, these students were forced to leave school and with no other engagement to fall back to, they readily delved into crime.

Another negative impact as observed by another source is the inequivalence in educational knowledge among students both nationally and internationally. An example is the case of the West African Examinations which is normally written May/June yearly by all West African countries. There has been an ongoing debate on whether it should be written this year or not with most of the African countries agreeing that it should be written while the government in conjunction with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control strongly disagreeing as they argue that allowing the Nigerian students to sit for the exams would be a suicide attempt as it would expose them to the deadly virus. However, reports show that the South-west state governments are making plans for their students to sit for the exam though while considering the guidelines of the NCDC whereas as the Niger-Delta states are yet to agree to this. This would automatically create a gap in knowledge between the students who eventually sit for the exams and the students who do not, assuming the Niger-delta states still remain adamant.

Interestingly as earlier stated, some of the informants gave positive effects of the corona virus pandemic. One of the positive effects noted was that owing to the emergence and long term tenure of the virus, Parents now have more time to spend with their children and therefore bond with them as most of these parents were either too busy or not present at all because of the nature of their jobs. It was observed also that the children spent most of the time which should be used to bond with their parents in school and when they eventually got back from school, they would have assignments to do or their mates to play with. Another very important positive effect observed by a source is the increased closeness to digitalization that has been achieved also owing to the emergence of the virus. Nigeria witnessed many schools conducting online exams and classes for the first time which is an era of digitalization that should have been achieved since according to the source. Also, many students were made to go for skill acquisition programs or at least apprenticeship and thereby giving them more ways to be more equipped for their future.