At the launching of the portals — schoolgate.ng and mobileclassroom.com.ng. in Abuja — Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said that all students in Nigeria had been granted free-access to e-learning.
The platforms are subscription-free for Nigerian students in primary and secondary levels during the period of this lockdown as necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic.
Following this development, a cellular phone sellers at the GSM village, Abuja, Mr Saint Dozea, observed that sales of smart phones and other accessories have improved.
He said that as many schools, mostly primary schools in Nigerian, began pushing for online coaching, parents were encouraged to buy phones, laptops and other accessories to catch up with their learning.
Mrs Grace Aregbesola, a mother, told correspondent that since the lockdown, she had bought four cell phone tablets to ease her children’s learning.
She said that the prices were on the increase, noting that the first two fairly used tablets she bought at “N65, 000 is now selling for N80, 000 two weeks after.
“It’s crazy, my children will always take my tablet to press the buttons and disrupt my workings and I don’t have any choice than to look for money and buy their own”.
Aregbesola said that she had to buy at a high price due to the overriding importance of the wellbeing, health and safety of her children and for them to catch up with the standard of education.
She, however, expressed concerns that some students were living in homes that might not have access to Wi-Fi or limited access to internet and some parents could not afford the device to use for schoolwork.
Mr Geoffery Azuka, an engineer and also a parent, noted that during COVID-19, most parents had stopped their children from attending lesson classes and most children were now restricted to the use of mobile applications.
“I have six children, it has not been so easy but to make them comply; I have to make adequate provision for their needs and it is so unfortunate that most of the traders at the GSM village were exploiting every individual,’’ he said.
He said that in spite of spending so high on the purchase of learning equipment, schools were also charging high fees to provide alternative online learning to ensure continuity in teaching and learning.
“I bough four tablets at N70,000 as against N60,000 each that I bought one week ago, there is sudden increase because many parents are patronising GSM village.
“The patronage has made the traders to increase their price, for instance the TECNO phone Camon 11 that I bought for N80,000 two weeks ago is now N90,000, where do we go from here,” he said.
Azuka said that lack of reduction in data tariffs and offline options on learning platforms had also made it very difficult for some parents with more than two children to cope.
“I have to buy the tablets rather than share mine with them because my office period sometimes coincides with their learning period.
“The online teaching is very beneficial and should be encouraged during the holiday but government must look into the operations and make it less-expensive by ensuring adequate power supply and reduction in data tariffs,” he said.
However, in spite of the schools’ influence and apparent ability to deliver certain kinds of online learning, parents are alarmed by what they call the unrealistic cost of virtual education.
Mr Badmus Ogunwusi, a teacher in Abuja, said that the COVID-19 period had been a difficult time for schools, teachers, parents, young people and all those involved in education globally.
Ogunwusi said that he had hooked up to the online professional development courses and this had led him to buying tablets to cope with the training.
He said that many of the on line programme had made android mobile phones, laptops and palm tops to be more important now than ever and the prices’ were on the increase on a daily basis.
Also, Mr Alfred Akinoso, a mobile operator told reporters that most of the functionalities wouldn’t be possible without optimum data and it was also good money to mobile operators.
“The mobile communications business is showing profits increase during this COVID-19 outbreak compared to when there was no pandemic and the profit improvement is a result of the lockdown and the e-learning portals created by government for students,” he said.