Prof. Esther O. Omosewo inducted into the Governing Council membership of IARSA

Prof. Omosewo being presented with the Membership Plaque

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Mrs. Esther Ore Omosewo, the first female professor of physics education in Nigeria has been inducted into the Governing Council membership of the International Association of Research Scholars and Administrators - IARSA. 

She is a Senior Research Fellow of IARSA with branches and offices in America, Europe, Asia and Africa - Nigeria. She was a guest speaker at IARSA’s recent conference titled "National Education Research & Economic Conference" with the theme "Education and Economic Challenge,   Opportunities and Responses in the COVID-19 Era. 

Prof. Esther presented a paper at the recently concluded conference held at NECA House Alausa, Agidingbi Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria on 24 November 2020 titled "Science Teachers Education in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic ". (See the paper below)

A consummate researcher, prolific writer and an astute pathfinder with over 40 years’ experience in teaching, research and community services in Science Education and beyond, Professor Esther Omosewo is expected in the first quarter of 2021 along with her past and present students to launch a festschrift to honour her works.

 

Science Teacher Education In The Light Of The Covid-19 Pandemic

 

Prof. Esther Ore Omosewo

 

“COVID-19 pandemic may well change our world and our global outlook” says Prof. Omosewo in the Lecture. She also submitted that it could teach the world, [especially Africa] about the needed changes to better prepare the next generations for the future.  She believes it is the right time to reflect on how covid-19 crisis could help to define what learning should look like for future students.

 

She warns the African government and stakeholders in education that the pandemic is a reality, urging them “to look within and bring about meaningful, impactful and purposeful direction to alleviate the needs of teachers permanently paramount”; and seize the opportunity to adopt newer techniques suitable for the present generation of learner. Full Text:

 

INTRODUCTION

The emergence of COVID-19 at the start of year 2020 met the world unprepared. Scientists alike were left dazed at the rate of spread with little or no answer to how best to prevent, manage and treat the new pandemic. Starting from Wuhan (a city in China), the virus travelled the world over and changed the way humans live, interact, work, teach and learn. While staying at home have calculated economic implications in term of projections, profit and loss. The implication of the pandemic on education are yet to be accurately described, but they will surely be more challenging for educators and learners in more fragile and unstable contexts.

Expert awareness of COVID-19 as a pandemic in many African countries was through the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom timely update. On 10th May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was reported to have gripped 215 countries across the globe and many of these countries on lockdown (World Health Organization, 2020). Education was among the first few sectors to faced rapid shutdown of all its activities. Thousands of schools and millions of students were affected by the lockdown due to the pandemic. The first response from the education sector was to completely halt its operations. This directive was advised by the WHO to various heads of government all over the world.

THE AFRICAN ACCOUNT OF COVID-19

First case of corona virus was discovered toward the end of February 2020 in Africa. A nationwide lockdown was declared on March, 23rd 2020 in Nigeria.

Across Africa, lock down was about the meditated strategy to combat the scourge. At this period, workers and artisans delivering essential services were permitted to carry-on their daily activities and other citizens subjected to house arrest through law enforcement strategies. While this position seemed commendable at the time, many African were only willing to survive through this period, as other media for learning and education were not considered.

Education divide already exists in African societies owing to school location, parent socio-economic ability and even access to internet (Strauss, 2020). The pandemic may further widen the gap for the already disadvantaged students. Moving forward, universities and other institutions may have no choice but to continue to offer online instruction. This means that educators around Africa will have to move content, classes, materials, and opportunities for experiential instruction to online classrooms.

For science educators, there is need to acquire requisite skills to traverse this unfortunate incident. Although, the economic status of science educators in developing countries is poor. There is need for transformation of science education, from traditional/conventional system to e-learning environment to impact updated competencies in science teachers. Tertiary educators across Africa responded differently during this period. Holding online conferences, classes, webinar and the usage of other online media have alleviated the situation to a reasonable extent, although, these opportunities are not equally available at various location owing to remote/under-developed communities across 

EFFECTS OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON SCIENCE TEACHER EDUCATION

COVID-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to near-total closure of schools, universities and colleges. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As of 30 September 2020, approximately 1.077 billion learners were affected due to school closure in response to the pandemic.

According to UNICEF monitoring team, 53 countries implemented nationwide closures and 27 implemented local closures, impacting about 61.6 percent of the world's student population. School closure impacted not only students, teachers, and families, but have far-reaching economic and societal consequences.

Responding to school closure, scholars have recommended the use of distance learning fora and open education applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit the disruption of academic activities. Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 through non-pharmaceutical interventions and preventive measures, such as social-distancing and self-isolation prompted widespread closure of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions schooling across Africa (UNESCO, 2020).

RATIONALE FOR RETHINKING

COVID-19 pandemic may well change our world and our global outlook. It can also teach us about how education needs to change to be able to better prepare our young learners for what the future holds. So, as science educators grapple with the new ways of communicating with our students away from our classrooms and lecture theatres, now is a good time to reflect on how this disruptive crisis can help to define what learning should look like for our students.

 

NEW HABIT FOR SCIENCE EDUCATOR

  • Usage of E-Learning/Social Media Platforms (WhatsApp, Telegram etc.) for education
  • The use of media houses such as Television and radio stations to educate learners
  • Redefining the Role of Science Instructors by focusing more onlearners rather than instructors
  • Teaching of life skills needed for the future e.g. empathy, compassion, attitudinal remediation etc.

 

LIMITATIONS TO ONLINE SCIENCE TEACHING/INSTRUCTION

  • Educational Resources
  • Technology
  • School Environment
  • Stable Electricity
  • Technological Know How (Training and Retraining)

 

THE WAY FORWARD

Review of curriculum to accommodate changes resulting from COVID-19 pandemic

Re-orientation of our students’ information seeking behavior

Training and retraining of science teacher toward the use of technological tools

Provision of highly subsidize computer and other gadgets

Development of application packages usable offline to facilitate their learning.

 

CONCLUSION

 

COVID-19 is a reality check for African government and stakeholders in education. The need to look within and bring about meaningful, impactful and purposeful direction to alleviate the needs of teachers permanently is paramount. We should solve challenges associated with teachers’ standard of living, teaching standard, teaching environment and teaching resources. The opportunity to adopt newer techniques suitable for the present generation of learners is here. The rapid transition to online education will not only benefits science educators and students but create a momentum of continued education for practicing science educator on the continent. We will do well, as scholars, if this situation is properly managed, on the other hand, failure to meet the needs of this period may leave us with yet another regret on the list of things we should have done as a people but refused.

 

Prof. Esther Ore Omosewo is of the Department of Science Education

University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

 

 

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