How Effective Is Online Teaching Now?: My Experience, By Olabisi Deji-Folutile

I was privileged to attend two virtual lectures this week on the invitation of the distinguished professor of Science and Computer Education, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Peter Okebukola. The World Bank support project is powered by the African Centre of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative Stem Education (ACEITSE) and aimed at offering qualitative and transformative training for African postgraduate students.

For the benefit of those who probably do not know Professor Okebukola, he is the chairman of Council, Crawford University; chairman, Board of Trustees, Caleb University; president, Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI-Africa); a former acting vice chancellor, LASU; and a former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC). He championed the inclusion of entrepreneurial studies in Nigeria’s universities’ educational curriculum and also worked assiduously towards the delivery of a digital library project, when at NUC. I think it won’t be out of place for me to also add that Professor Okebukola is one of Nigeria’s credible voices at global forums on education.

I had approached him for an exclusive interview on the lingering challenges around the delivery of online lectures by Nigeria’s higher institutions, especially at a time when ordinary primary and secondary schools in the country are not only doing this effortlessly, but also seamlessly. I guess he wanted to prove to me that online teaching wasn’t a big deal in Nigeria after all, hence the invitation to join some of his classes for the week. From all indications, academic activities had continued at the centre in spite of the disruptions to education occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. LASU was selected as a World Bank’s African Centre for Excellence in November 2018.

I was invited for the lectures scheduled for Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. each day, but I couldn’t attend the Monday classes for ‘some’ reason. I was probably intimidated by the lectures’ topics. The first one was on “Non Parametric Statistics – Theoretical Considerations”, and the second, “Non Parametric Statistics – Practical Considerations.” The truth is, I am not your typical fan of statistics and mathematics. In fact, that is one of the major reasons why I couldn’t fulfil my dad’s dream of me becoming a pharmacist. He had wanted me to study Pharmacy. He already had a doctor, a nurse and probably wanted to complete the circle by adding a pharmacist, being a chief nursing officer himself. But, I cleverly registered for a subject combination that I knew would give me comparative advantage in my Advanced Level. So far, I have enjoyed being a journalist and miss nothing about not being a pharmacist!

Anyway, despite missing or should I say ‘dodging’ the Monday classes, I still had access to the lectures, as I got the PPT files and links to videos of both lectures delivered by Dr. Rasheed Sanni. One thing I could glean from those videos was that the lectures seemed detailed. I might not be able to make much of sense out of them, but I guess, it must have been a rewarding experience for the students.

However, Tuesday’s lectures were a whole different ball game. The experience was wonderful. To start with, the topics were familiar. The first lecture was on “Basic Concepts in Entrepreneurship: Developing a Feasibility Study and Business Plan,” by Professor Hakeem Ajonbadi, who spoke from the United Kingdom. The second lecture was on “Entrepreneurship: Beyond Theory”, delivered by Professor Martins Anetekhai from the United States. The fact that I love learning about wealth creation further fuelled my interest in these lectures. So, I was in class on time to assimilate everything possible in the lectures.
People in class that Tuesday included a few vice chancellors, some former vice chancellors, and students from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo. True to expectation, the lectures enriched my life. I learnt from Professor Ajonbadi that, “Anything you do but do not make money from is pure hobby.” That was contrary to common knowledge out there. Before then, I used to hear people say that when you “follow your passion well enough, it will give you money.” But, here was Professor Ajonbadi saying that being passionate about a thing does not guarantee making money from it, except one has an entrepreneurship mindset. He also said you might not know jack about a thing but still end up making good money from it with the right entrepreneurship skills.

In the same vein, Professor Anetekhai emphasised the need for everyone to possess entrepreneurial skills. To him, all stakeholders in government, from politicians to civil servants, must be entrepreneurs. That really made sense to me too. Imagine if all Nigerian leaders had truly been entrepreneurs, would they have kept on exporting crude oil and importing petroleum products at exorbitant prices. Wouldn’t that be illogical? You produce a thing, export it, and then pay more to import it back to your country when you can easily process this product for local consumption at a far lower cost. Similarly, had Nigerian leaders been entrepreneurs, they wouldn’t have continued to waste billions of naira on the turn around maintenance of dead refineries when they could easily sell them off and get investors to build new ones. The same way a country, so rich in land mass and good soil, shouldn’t be having any problem feeding its people. These are just some of the few things that Nigeria could have enjoyed if it had entrepreneurs in the saddle.

By the way, Professor Antekhai is the director of the Entrepreneurial Centre, LASU. It is expected that LASU will also do more in terms of its internally generated revenue, going forward, just like the Tai Solarin University of Education, whose vice chancellor, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu told the class, generates over N200 million monthly. According to the VC, the university is into many businesses, including block making and bag production. While Ogun State gives the university N30 million subvention per month, it runs a monthly wage bill of N210 million and does not owe any worker.

In all, my online classes were pleasurable experiences. Yes, there were little hitches here and there primarily due to poor network connectivity, but my Internet Mi-Fi came to my rescue and did more than an average job. Besides, the videos of the lectures are on YouTube and one can always go back to see them. The seventh Discussion Forum was opened on Wednesday and would remain live till Thursday for students to provide answers to questions from the topics discussed. This is part of their assessment, as marks are attached to each question.

If my experience in those classes is anything to go by, I don’t see the reason why higher institutions in Nigeria should still struggle to deliver enriching virtual lectures to their students. What are the vice chancellors, rectors and provosts of various public higher institutions in our country doing to provide this much-talked about online learning? Honestly, this thing is not rocket science. The minimum technology to kick it off is already available. All that is required is for lecturers to prepare the slides for their lectures and for universities to make data available for lecturers and students. Both the universities and the federal government can work with telecoms companies to offer discounted data for both students and lecturers. What stops the federal government from providing a token as data allowance for students in its universities? After all, Nigeria has been generous enough to provide tuition free university education for its citizens all these years.

If migrating online is still a challenge for higher institutions in Nigeria, in spite of all the possibilities out there, I am suspecting that there are other things beyond the ordinary that may be holding our institutions back. Beyond the lecturers, it is probably time to start looking at the role of institutional authorities in driving the delivery of online education. Are these heads really fully committed to doing this?


Re: How the north can truly end the Almajiri system

Vintage Bisi,

Classy, correct and complete. I am 95 per cent in agreement with your submission.

On the remaining 5% reservation, though I personally share the same sentiment on the need for family planning, especially having one wife and not having more than four children, I will not begrudge any man, who is capable and emotionally mature enough to have two and up to four wives, if he so wishes.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have always been very passionate about population control and I am an advocate of good family life. I have experience that shaped my attitude and actions on this stand to share.

I was born and raised in Isalegangan, Lagos Island, where polygamy was prevalent and population density was very high. I witnessed the evil of unplanned procreations and the acrimonies, bitter feud, depravation and calamities associated with polygamy. But, I also know that many that ventured into it were totally unprepared, least capable and emotionally deficient to successfully manage polygamy. For there are some few families that I knew, even of no considerable means, who were very successfully able to manage multiple female partners.

My father was one of such. He had three wives; fair number of offspring had university education; all were successful in life; all are still closely relating today; two of the younger wives are still around today; and all are pleased with one another. Yet, I made up my mind – that long time ago – never to have more than one wife, not because I fear that I would not be able to handle two or three or four, like my father, but because to be a credible change agent for family planning, regulated birth, happy and healthy family life, I must lead by example.

Yet, I retreat, polygamy is not ugly, we paint it bad. No wonder the Population Policy was not against it. But herd syndrome must prevail to effectively sell family planning. And while doing so, we must champion monogamy, because polygamy is guilty by vicarious association with the notorious: high density, poverty, destitution, homelessness, girl-child abuse, child right infringements, infant and maternal mortalities, even Almajiri.

It is even more so to advocate monogamy. For the sake of the far more who do not know how, or who do not have what it takes to manage offspring from multiple wives, the good points of polygamy must be attenuated and the high points of monogamy must dominate the space.

But the paradox in this for me pricks my conscience and sharpens my consciousness.

Even with my passion for family planning, birth spacing and healthy living, up till now, as since then, I believe polygamy is not necessarily evil, but we have lost some supportive traditional habits and lifestyle that make it work. Thus, it is all right for you and me to warn against it, but only for the sake of the multiple who might not be able to handle it, but are inclined to get involved; moreover, the atmosphere against polygamy among female folks – who are conditioned to monogamy by the dominant Western influence – has been “toxified” to the extent that polygamy is becoming increasingly less feasible. And for these reasons we can justify our paradox and be Chief advocate for monogamy so that multitudes would not be sired and thus be saved from the tangle and crossfire of war chess in deformed polygamous relationships, especially since we are least interested to make polygamy work and be more beautiful.

I still believe family planning and polygamy are not necessarily in conflict. In fact, the population policy did not say you can’t marry more than one wife. Muslims are enjoined to do so, if they are capable and can cope, not because Islam wants Muslims to embark on unplanned, unchecked and reckless procreation, but, among other reasons, to address fallouts associated with monogamy.

For instance widows who may still want to marry again, but are finding it difficult to get suitors who are single, may marry again, an already married man. The singles who struggle to consummate relationships from unattached males; should they not have someone they can call their own? Some men actually have heightened libido; is it not better for such men to have additional wives, if they are capable, than engaging in adultery, which is sinful, wasteful, dangerous to health and capable of compounding population control?

Islamic injunction does not prohibit polygamy, and it was widely practised in Biblical history. In agricultural and communal Africa of past, polygamy was the norm and it was successfully practised. This was a saner clime. Structured polygamy can actually be a panacea for population control. But, we may never know. Here again Western civilisation has stultified a way of life that could have developed our moral, economic and social status, while regulating our proclivities for excessive procreation. But in this our atomistic settings, monogamy reigns. But why are we still having these chaotic conjugations?

Mr. Lookman Seriki, Director, Public Affairs, Lagos Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resource

Re: Unlocking the economy: The plight of private school owners

Thanks for that your impressive article of yesterday, Unlocking the economy: The plight of private school owners. It was as if you were reading our minds. I am a school proprietor and by the grace of God, I am the current National Secretary General of NAPPS Nigeria, Abuja.

Government sometimes do fail to realise that we are employers of labour that need to be supported so as to run our business well and in fact employ more hands.

Thank you so much ma.

Comrade Ajibade Augustine.

About the Author: Olabisi Deji-Folutile is the editor-in-chief, and member, Nigerian Guild of Editors. Email:

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