Mrs) Ajoke Ogunsan and Professor Chukwumerije Okereke,

Perturbed by the litany of challenges militating against tertiary education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading institute for higher education in the country, Executive Trainers Limited, has charged stakeholders on effective online teaching.

At a convergence for higher education discourse themed: “Pauses, Pivots and Possibilities in Post-COVID-19 Higher Education”, held virtually, recently, both organisers and stakeholders agreed on boosting internet facilities in citadels of learning, if an effective higher education must be sustained.

In an opening address, the Chief Executive of the institute, Dr (Mrs) Ajoke Ogunsan, beseeched all stakeholders in the academia to do more for their institutions, regardless of the sufficing setbacks.

Ogunsan, however, read out a brief biography of the guest speaker, Professor Chukwumerije Okereke, who held the  podium for two hours and 40minutes.

Okereke began his delivery by drawing up an inference that every decision prompts one’s focus and response in tackling a problem.   He lamented the impact of the COVID-19 as he wondered if its impact on the global economy is either from the pandemic itself or from the efforts to contain the virus. The results of the impact of the COVID-19 were outlined as crash of the financial stock market, recession, temporary food shortage and price hike, disruption of travel; 400 million jobs lost as a result of high mortality rate.

“The fact that the COVID-19 spread is encouraged by a high concentration of people- a place where there is a hub of activities; points at the different institutions of learning which includes the universities.

“Both private and public universities can synergise as the strengths of one could be the weakness of the other and vice-versa,” he said.

Using the SWOT Analysis, he analysed the various decision making tools to effect a response which are: SWOT, scenarios, cause and effect, force field analysis, preto analysis and decision matrix.

“I can say that 80% profit is generated from 20% of activities. We need a contingent arrangement so as not to be caught unawares.

“Universities could engage in community service responsibilities to sell themselves and buy members of the community to register at the university. Universities should build relationships, research before delving into online teaching and determine the appropriate tuition fee that is levied so as not to scare potential students,” the university don added.

In his contribution, the Vice Chancellor of Mcpherson University, Prof. Adeniyi Agunbiade, expressed concerns about the decline in interest by potential students from visits to public schools due to inability to pay tuition fees.

In response to the submission of the VC,  Okereke suggested that an agreement can be signed whereby the proposed student or students either work for the institutions to enjoy the privilege to study at the universities or that some form of loaning system is established such that these group of students can study and can pay back their tuition over a period of time.

One of the attendees, Ibrahim Ahmed, raised a concern on unavailability of internet facilities in certain areas, especially considering the demography. He asked how to combat these challenge of reaching out to the students who do not have these internet facilities available.

In response, Okereke lashed certain quarters, who have backlashed some universities, for not migrating online “when in reality, there isn’t any empowerment on ground to make online teaching a reality”. He expressed that he could not give an answer to the question asked as he was incapacitated as Mr Ibrahim was. He, however, charged on the use of every available method of delivery of teaching until they can get internet facilities.

In a bid to seek clarification, another attendee, Dr. (Mrs) Adenike Jimoh, expressed the need to identify the balance point where there is no compromise on the quality of education after migrating courses online and also expressing confidence and innovation to improve on the new normal type of education which is the online education.

Prof. Okereke agreed with Dr Jimoh but however enjoined that universities should provide the online infrastructure to encourage online learning. He opined that there should be a blend of culture and innovation so as not to run beyond one’s capacity.

Okereke rapped up his presentation by expressing that — “don’t do nothing because you cannot do all”.

Okereke is a Professor of Environment and Development at the University of Reading where he also serves as the Co-Director of Climate and Justice Centre and the Leverhulme Climate Justice Doctoral Scholarship Programme.
Previously, he was a Senior Research Associate at Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, UK, and Head of Climate and Development Centre at the Smith School Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, respectively. He remains a visiting fellow at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

The programme was rounded off with an announcement that certificates of attendance will be issued to all participants.

Among the 23 dignitaries in attendance were the Vice Chancellor of Mcpherson University, Prof. Adeniyi Agunbiade; Registrar, Mcpherson University, Mrs. Tokunbo Alaba Kehinde; Bursar, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Helen Onuoha; and other bigwigs drawn from the academia.

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