In an effort to bridge the seeming inequities in the education sector for indigent primary and secondary school pupils in Nigeria, telecommunication operators in the country have been urged to provide free internet access to aid virtual learning amid the COVID-19 lockdown on schools.
Making the appeal in a statement issued yesterday, a leading Nigerian techpreneur, Mr. Joel Popoola, said this is the best period for telecoms operators to make learning easy for indigent pupils by providing free internet access on learning resources.
Popoola, who stated that the pandemic has forced schools globally to switch to online learning, lamented that millions of children in Nigeria have been left behind “because they have no access to remote-learning,” adding that telecoms operators should urgently bridge the digital-divide.
He added further that: “That is why we are pleading with the Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Patami, to compel both indigenous and non-indigenous telecommunication providers to play their part, support millions of helpless children and their parents, think creatively and ensure the digital-divide is breached at this unprecedented time.
Popoola, who is the creator of the leading Digital Democracy Project-Rate Your Leader app, said Nigeria’s already appalling position as the headquarters of the world’s out-of-school children may exacerbate during and after the school lockdown except the government and telecoms operators come to the aid of the disadvantaged young people.
According to him in the statement, “no doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected all aspects of humanity. But it is disheartening that the educational system in Nigeria has been worst hit and children from poor families are bearing the brunt of what can be largely fixed.
“The pandemic is widening educational gaps and indigent students are now being disadvantaged. Wealthier Nigerian families have access to the internet, and schools in affluent areas enjoy seamless right of entry to educational resources.
“On the contrary, we have millions of home which can’t receive home lessons, teaching and follow government’s learning portal because they don’t have means of purchasing data to access internet.”