Comrade Fakolade Oluwaseun Oluwafemi JP is the current chairman of the Nigeria Union Of Teachers Ikorodu Branch. A blunt, precise and discipline vibrant leader. Applauded by his counterparts for his principles and dogged character in catering for the welfare of teachers across Ikorodu Division.
Ikorodu News Network (INN) met up with the chairman to discuss briefly about the Challenges and transformation of the Union in the era of Covid-19.
“Teaching for us is Life, And not business as usual. Even though we miss our students their health and safety is our priority” Comrade Fakolade
INN: What has been the impact of Covid-19 in the teaching sector here in Ikorodu?
Comrade Fakolade: The Pandemic started in December 2019 but did not surface in Nigeria until around March 2020 before the federal Government decided to shut down all Institutions in order to prevent the spread. The shutdown came in as we were preparing for our 2nd term examinations.
Since then we have not had a full resumption, what you see today is just a skeletal type of resumption as only SS3 have been permitted to resume in order for them to write their WAEC exams while JSS3 would be expected to resume in a few days.
It is obvious that Covid-19 has changed the narrative, it has changed the environment and uttered how we live, both on the positive and negative side of things.
When i say Positive I meant the advent of this virus has drawn our teachers into the world of digital measures of dishing out knowledge to the students. Alot of schools are now adopting virtual learning.
But the negative side is that we miss our children as Notting can be compared to the Physical learning Fashion, We are very use to Seeing them daily on a regular basis which has brought in an emotional attachment because Teacher are the second parents of the children.
But in all we are also Operating On a managerial position to understand that with situations like this, That deals with health and safety of the students, We are working only in their best interest and not ours.
As the statutory body that acts on behalf of teachers across the entire Division, We have also set up effective guidelines Inline with the Government’s health policies to help our schools not becoming a victim of the Pandemic.
INN: From the Educational Stand Point how can you evaluate the Performances of the government in combating this Pandemic?
Comrade Fakolade: It will be very unfair at this point looking at what is happening in other countries around the globe, Not to commend the efforts of our Incident Commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has really tried to curtail this Pandemic to its bearest minimal working closely with our health ministry.
Our schools were fumigated and even at some point our SS3 students writing exams Currently were given Facemasks. In all I can say that the government has done it’s bit to curb the spread, Siting on the leadership path, We must follow up with the process for purpose of due diligence.
INN: At some point prior to the government easing the second phase Lockdown there was pressures for the Government to open schools which you kicked against, Looking back now what can you say about the government decision back then?
Comrade Fakolade: Firstly you must note here that the pressures then was coming from the private sector and not the public educational sector.
Specifically the pressures came from those in the private sector whose means of livelihood is the business they run. For us here we don’t see Education as Business, We see Education as Service.
Even in that period if you noticed in other countries, there were times schools were open and later shut down again due to scare and uncertainties, It would have been unwise for the government to open schools at that point in time.
We also have colleagues across the globe and we ask questions on how they are responding to the Pandemic over there. Honestly we have missed our children but we should not be too emotional about it, We Must do the right things and make the right decisions at the right time.
At that time was it actually safe to reopen schools? Our answers was No, until we have every requirements needed to facilitate the reopening of our Institutions.
Even looking at how the resumption is effected now in a staggering manner shows the methodical pattern the government is applying in order for us not to withness any emergency health crisis that will blow out of proportion at a very short period.
It’s a good thing that the government followed their decision and stayed till this point for the safety of our students.
INN: With Covid-19 Pandemic, What enhancement steps has the Teachers taken to engage their students?
Comrade Fakolade: The advent of this pandemic has increased our passion and drive to enhance our mode of teaching engagements towards the students. Our online classes started as far back as April, while others started in May.
Teachers now give lectures via phones as parents have given their children access to the phones for the online classes.
At some point the Government also distributed Radios and phones to students to further encourage the online Engagement. It is all a pointer to the fact that we are now living in a world where everyone has to embrace technology.
INN: How can students be accessed in terms of their ability to learn online based on this Technological Applications and advancement?
Comrade Fakolade: Evaluation is the only way to access the Students’ learning abilities.
How do you evaluate? Through Test, Through the continuous assessment, through examinations and with Physical contacts where you can ask them questions about prior learnings and tutorials. That is why in a teacher’s lesson note you will see “Teacher asked students questions on the subject matter”.
Now in this online era we can only solicit the parents to ensure that their children key into the online studies because we would not be there to monitor them to know how they are responding. While we are playing our part, the parents must do likewise and together the children will learn and grow.
Whether we like it or not the online infusion of teaching has come to stay because it is now an integral part of our modes of study.
Even when schools Eventually resumes, Teachers would easily look at balancing their curriculums both with school periods and off school period online.
INN: Your Advice to all Ikorodu Division Teachers?
Comrade Fakolade: You are the best Teachers in the whole world, Continue to work effectively and ensure that no child is left behind!