1.1 Background to the Study
As indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is a family of viruses that results to illnesses ranging from the regular cold to more serious illnesses like acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). These viruses were initially transmitted from animals to humans. SARS, for example, was transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS moved to humans from a sort of camel. A few known COVID-19 are spreading in animals that are yet infected humans. The name Coronavirus evolves from the Latin word corona, which means crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, it appears as though it is surrounded by a solar corona. The pandemic Coronavirus, recognized by Chinese authorities on January 7 and since named SARS-CoV-2, is another strain that had not been recently identified in people. Little is known about it, albeit human-to-human transmission has been affirmed (Ajazeera, 2020).
According to the WHO, symptoms of infection are fever, cough, and inability to breath very well, and shortness of breath. In more extreme cases, it can prompt pneumonia, numerous organ failure, and even death. Current evaluations of the incubation period - the time between infection and the beginning of symptoms - going from one to 14 days. Most infected individuals show indications within five to six days. Nonetheless, infected patients can likewise be asymptomatic, which means they do not show any indications in spite of having the virus in their body systems (Ajazeera, 2020).
Many governmental measures were taken to curtail the danger of the virus spreading. Some of these measures include travel bans or restrictions, compulsory isolation for travellers, social distancing, bans on public gatherings, schools closures, business closures, self-isolation, work from home method was employed by many corporate business organisations, curfews, and lockdown (Bedford et al., 2020; Gostin and Wiley, 2020).Authorities in several nations worldwide announced either lockdown or curfew as an action to break the quick spread of virus infection (Paital et al., 2020). These actions undoubtedly had a significant negative impact on business, education, health, and the hospitality industry (Pragholapati, 2020).
Coronavirus pandemic had a great impact on all levels of the education system (Nicola et al, 2020). Educational institutions all throughout the globe (in 192 nations) were either briefly shut or implemented localized closures influencing about 1.7 billion population of students around the world (UNESCO 2020). Many primary schools around the world either postponed or canceled all school activities to minimize gatherings and as well decrease the transmission of the virus. Consequently, these measures lead to higher economical, medical, and social implications on students (Nicola et al, 2020; Esposito and Principi, 2020).
As a result of the suspension of classroom teaching in many schools, a switch to online teaching for students from the primary education to tertiary education became effective [reviewed in (Sahu, 2020; Yamin, 2020). This type of learning gives an alternative method to limit either the contact between students themselves or between the students and teachers or lecturers as the case may be (Pragholapati, 2020). However, UNESCO (2020) revealed that many students have no access to online teaching due to a lack of either the means or the instruments due to the economical and digital divide.
Makurdi is the capital of Benue State which also serves as the headquarters of Makurdi Local Government Area, with the following districts of Makurdi (Rural) containing the villages of Adaka, Adeke, Ajam, Agbadu, Agbeshir, Agenada, Akaan, Aki, Akigwe, Akpehe, Akume, Alla and Anter. The area is host to many educational institutions. Among the educational institutions are public senior primary schools and private primary schools. Sometimes around March 2020 many of the public and private schools were shut down in compliance with the federal government directives that all educational institutions should be shut down to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study therefore aims to investigate the effect of COVID-19 on the academic performance of primary school pupils in Makurdi area of Benue State, Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In detail account of UNESCO, about 35.9 million primary and secondary school learners were out-of-school as a result of the school closures in 2020. For primary schools, this number totals approximately 25.6 million students, of which about 87 percent (23.5 million) were students enrolled in public schools. The numbers were just as stark for secondary school learners. Of the roughly 10.3 million secondary school students who were out-of-school as a result of the closures, approximately 81 percent (8.4 million) of them were public school students. There was no assurance that all the learners who left the school would be back in school after the pandemic lockdown; some might have changed their lives’ view seeing going to school as a waste of time, some might have died as a result of the pandemic or reasons unknown, some would have changed school, some might have joined bad groups shifting their attention away from school. Etc. this is where the work of parents and guidance comes in to ensure the proper welfare of learners even while they stayed back home. Unfortunately learning within the homes were as well limited looking at the literacy level of some parents in Nigeria; not every parent could handle well the pedagogy aspect of parenthood and besides other commitments of parents are to be considered. The effect of this were not easily noticed now; the future of a child in this category is naturally exposed to a serious academic crash or underperformance if there are no proper interventions, because even now that the ban on movement is lifted and schools are reopened, majority of students will are not learning and they have become nuisance to the societies.
Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to investigate the effect of COVID-19 on the academic performance of primary school pupils in Makurdi area of Benue State. However, the study sought to examine the following specific objectives:
- To investigate if COVID-19 schools shutdown had effects on the academic performance of primary school pupils in Makurdi area of Benue State
- To understand the relevance of primary education to the overall development of the child
- To examine the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education in Nigeria
- To find out the efforts made by some schools to ensure continuation of classroom teaching and learning during coronavirus pandemic
- To assess out the challenges faced by some schools and pupils to ensure continuation of classroom teaching and learning during coronavirus pandemic
1.4 Research Questions
The undertaking of this research study will be guided by the following research questions:
- To what extent did COVID-19 schools shutdown had effects on the academic performance of primary school pupils in Makurdi area of Benue State?
- What is the relevance of primary education to the overall development of the child?
- Does COVID-19 pandemic have impact on education in Nigeria?
- What are the efforts made by some schools to ensure continuation of classroom teaching and learning during coronavirus pandemic?
- What are the challenges faced by some schools and pupils to ensure continuation of classroom teaching and learning during coronavirus pandemic?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be tested by the researcher in the course of the study:
- There is a significant correlation between COVID-19 schools shutdown and the academic performance of primary school pupils
- There is a significant correlation between primary education and overall development of children
- There is no significant impact of COVID-19 on education in Nigeria
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study is significant as it will give an insight into the Makurdi area of Benue State. This study will help the administrators to ascertain the level of damages the schools close down has caused. Furthermore, the study will again be helpful for researchers, pupils and lecturers. Government official, policy makers and schools administrators will benefit from the recommendation of the study.
1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This research work is aimed at investigating investigate the effect of COVID-19 on the academic performance of Nigerian students. A case study of pupils in primary schools in Makurdi area of Benue State. The study was limited to primary school education in Nigeria and COVID-19 side effects on primary academic performance which include academic effects, pupils’ performance and their current state. The study is limited to the public and private primary school pupils in Makurdi area of Benue State, Nigeria and teachers of the selected primary schools.
This study has a major limitations which include the inability of the researcher to travel far and wide to effectively carry out this research as desired due to the insecurity issue in the nation and financial constraint and time factor.