8th October 2020

To say COVID-19 has brought the world to her knees is putting it mildly.  Every industry has been affected by the economic downturn. Coronavirus is as much an economic pandemic as well as a health pandemic. The lockdown and shutdowns we have had to endure, compelled most of us to reflect and reassess our priorities.

Education at all levels has been greatly affected. A few years ago, distance learning was undertaken mainly on university courses and online education was the last option. Since March 2020, right after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nigeria and schools had to shut down, online education took off on a 100M dash! The State Governments were not left behind, Ogun State started Ogun Digiclass and Lagos State started broadcasting on radio stations. Private schools were on Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, Edmodo, ClassDojo etc. Children in the early years classes were not left behind, some also joined online. Everything was going on well as long as parents were at home with the children to give the necessary support. Yes, there were many complaints about parents acting as teachers in some quarters, most were happy to see their children meaningfully engaged. For some, this was the longest downtime they have had with their children in a while. I am one of such parent.

However, as Nigeria started coming out of lockdown and schools were still closed, government and private organizations were faced with the dilemma of reopening the economy. The workforce, parents with their children still at home were struggling to return to work. “Where do we leave her children during work hours?” This got me thinking about the topic; Education and the Economy. Education often happens within the school environment. Parents send their children to school, not just to be educated, they also expect their child to be cared for whilst they attend to their businesses or show up or work in their various workplaces. In other words, schools serve the dual purpose of educating and caring for the child, giving the parent time go and seek work and earn a living. ( Lightbulb moment). In other words, if schools are closed parents cannot go to work, run their businesses, earn income, spend money, and pay taxes. Schools are undoubtedly an integral part of any society and interwoven into the 21st-century human existence.

The other thing that occurred to me was, with the largely young population of Nigeria, almost 60% below the age of 40 years old, there are many of childbearing age. These are citizens at the prime of their lives who can contribute greatly to the work force. I guess this is why the UK and other European countries reopened nursery schools early on during the pandemic so the young parents could gradually return to work and open the economy.

Do you think school is integral to the economy? Leave your comments below

Yinka Awobo-Pearse
Lead Consultant
Woodentots Consult Limited