If a nation runs a bad education system for lack of monetary support or poor teachers, students there would never expect to build prospective futures. A similar scenario has been witnessed in Nigeria where about 10.5 million students have been found to be staying out of school and more than 50% of the adults are simply leading lives like illiterates. The entire scenario has therefore been so dreadful that no other country has gathered such data over the years.
Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, attended an education summit to discuss this entire matter with the state governors, the education commissioners from all 36 states and the president, Goodluck Jonathan. Having partnered with Global Business Coalition for Education, USAID, the Global Partnership for Education and Qatar’s Educate a Child, the UN Special Envoy and the policy makers gathered together to discuss that they would be providing financial support with which:
– new schools could be made
– new teachers would be trained
– new technologies would be implemented
It was last July when the UN Special Envoy took a similar trip to Pakistan. However, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics created a policy paper recently that showed Nigeria to be scoring low in almost every aspect in comparison to Pakistan. The reports also showed:
- 1 out of 6 children in Nigeria belongs to the list of the world’s out-of-school children
- Between the year 2000 and 2010, 3.6 million Nigerian students in addition have been reported to be out of school
The dual objective of the education summit will therefore be to:
- Take all those children back to school
- Ensure that it keeps continuing on a regular basis
Proposal would be made on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan for the new 2014 census. The intention of this proposal would be to analyse how one is progressing academically. The framing of the policies will depend on the assessment of who will be left behind and who will be called into the school.
The ‘access’ factor has not only stood responsible for Nigeria’s education crisis but the ‘quality’ factor has also stood equally answerable. What has been rather found is that the huge number of students and working professionals who are coming out with minimal literacy skills are instead urging the government to bring changes in the country’s education.
As per reports from the International Day of Literacy last week, it was found:
- About 774 million students have been found incapable to read or write
- Out of them, 2/3rds are women
- Out of all countries, Nigeria was found to be suffering the most
Well, where there is bad news all around Nigeria, the incredible news that can now bring a sigh of relief among the new age learners there is the rapid initiation of distance learning technologies. Instead, experts are considering it to be a future resolution that would bring positive developments in Nigeria’s education system.
Amongst the other nations in Africa, Nigeria has emerged to be the only one with the highest population of internet users, and this has rather acted as an inspiration for the students here who have always wanted to pursue online distance learning programmes. In fact, this can give all those homeless students a chance to reconstruct their careers with perfection and therefore help Nigeria undergo massive improvements in their education system.
Since classroom learning dominated for generations, the majority of students, educators and even employers had a belief that there cannot be any other reliable mode of obtaining education. But later when the World Wide Web started easing lives of people, the concept of online education popularised. Despite, a lot of critics had their brows raised in regard to the implementation of such courses into schools, colleges and universities. However, the factors that led people to take up online learning strategies were temperament and self-realisation.
From postal orders to BYOD
Earlier, distance learning courses were conducted through postal orders and students used to receive their study materials on their personal addresses. Later, the major factor that made online education globally popular was the rapid growth in technology. With the launch of a wide range of digital learning tools, students realised the worth of choosing such a learning mode that can let them study at their own convenience and save a good deal of money.
Although the idea of using digital learning tools and apps for studies came later, there were those dial-up connections that used to be the initial source of connecting students to the virtual platforms. Even the blackboards today have been replaced with new electronic whiteboards that make online learners take more interest in their studies. In fact, the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning is slowly grabbing attention of school and university administrators, and experts have even predicted that there will be a time when students would be entering classrooms with their own kindles and tablets instead of books.
As per recent reports:
- In the United States, over 2 million undergraduates and 650,000 graduates were reported to be studying at distance
- The majority of these students were found to be either over 20s or were balancing their professional and personal duties
The fact that online education is growing in popularity with the passage of time has been proved with the worldwide acceptance of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Moreover, reports said that 6 universities were added to edX, one of the world’s renowned online learning platforms. As per the researchers, MOOCs have already created hype on a global basis and now they are aiming to enable students and working professionals obtain quality education.
As per the Online College Students 2012:
- Around 14% of the students were found to enrol in full-time online courses for completing higher studies
- 31% of the students were found to enrol in at least one online course
Even countries in Africa are now making smarter moves in implementing online courses for remote students. Nigeria was recently declared to be the only African nation with the highest population of internet users and the Iranian government has also taken the initiative to get scholarship programme for the Nigerian students.
So, online education can be called a future resolution for new age learners who would be rather exposed to new opportunities and high career prospects. What we need to find out now are the new innovations and implementations that would give virtual learners a new set of expectations to meet their career goals with ease.
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The 2014 education budget in Nigeria has showed a 15% hike in comparison to what was observed in 2013. As per the stakeholders, the budget has brought promising results as well as a note of relief for the education sector that had faced tough times for years. Although it has fallen short of UNESCO by 26%, the fair percentage of hike will surely bring a significant impact on the Nigerian education sector.
Nigeria’s education standards to strengthen
The education budget proposal for Nigeria in 2014 was N493 billion that represents 10.7% of the total national budget which comes to around N4.6 trillion. In fact, this has exceeded the 2013 budget by 15% and has therefore strengthened Nigeria’s expectations in emerging to be a country with a standardised education system. The educational stakeholders have even opined that this will altogether eliminate different issues arising in the sector. For instance:
- Funding will not seem adequate
- Infrastructure will be strengthened
- New qualified teachers will be recruited
- Teachers will be given the opportunity to upgrade themselves and keep up to the evolving trends
Establishing the right partnership is essential
The stakeholders also believe that if the education operators and the Federal Government enter into the right partnership, there would be certainly massive improvements. The head of the Department of Banking and Finance at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Adolphus Toby said that the 15% hike clearly indicate the plans to be adopted by the current administration for the education sector that had been neglected by consecutive governments.
According to the former executive secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission, Peter Okebukola, the 2014 education budget was extremely satisfactory since there had already been a steady hike in the education allocation every year since the time the current administration had taken charge. Well, it also indicated that the government has finally recognised the importance of education in identifying challenges faced by the nation. In this respect, Peter said, “Education is the clear solution to a lot of the problems facing the country and the key for unlocking natural resources.”
Kano in Nigeria to receive scholarship from the Iranian government
The Government of the Republic of Iran would moreover be offering scholarship to the Nigerian state Kano for letting individuals study Agriculture and Engineering in Iranian public universities. Sa’eed Koozechi, the Ambassador of Iran to Nigeria made this declaration while visiting the Kano State Governor. He said, “Iran wishes to cooperate with Kano in education and agriculture because you have natural and human resources and we have the expertise to support you to fully exploit the potentials for economic prosperity.”
The governor was informed by Koozechi that Nigeria had excelled in engineering and petrochemicals and this would help the Kano city to achieve global exposure. Besides, the scholarship will toughen the bilateral relationship between the countries that will also bring positive effects on their education systems.
The Kano state will therefore be working hand-in-hand with the government of Iran to bring improvement in areas like education, agriculture, engineering and many such critical areas, as per Governor Kwankwaso.
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“Technology-wise, yes we are ready. Internet access has improved and there are even places you can go to study online that provide you with reliable internet and electricity. Most people have access to a laptop or desktop computer and many even know how to use it. So technology-wise we are ready,” said Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Fora.co, a platform that works with universities, organisations and governments to provide young Africans with affordable access to the best educational content online, offline and on mobile. E-learning for the people of Nigeria has emerged as a boon. Millions, who couldn’t afford education because of improper resources and financial predicaments, have an affordable, flexible and relevant option to acquire knowledge. They are learning through internet!
Online for Development:
With the advent of internet and growing popularity of electronic gadgets, online mode of study seems to be a reasonable way to educate citizens of developing regions. But the process is still in its infancy and is in need of major help. The mission of launching online education in countries like Africa has never been only providing degrees but to spread awareness, offer knowledge and impart training to help them grow as efficient workers. “We are still light years behind others countries. Nigerian e-learning content is often badly designed and instructional design for online courses still seems foreign to our e-learning content landscape. This is one of the reasons we have had to focus on selling foreign courses because the local courses we saw were quite simply not up to snuff”, added Aboyeji. But with big names and programmes getting involved in the process, it seems that Nigerian Education is rapidly walking toward the success of the mission.
Recent attempts to promote e-Learning…
- A partnership recently happened between ITSA Business Consult and Trivantis Corporation, USA has decided to foster the development of Learning Management System and e-learning among Nigerian Organisations to automate the delivery of training materials and boost e-learning growth across the economy. The programme right now will be focusing on Coursemill LMS and Lectora e-learning software preferred by around 2000 global companies. “Joining with ITSA Business Consult allows Trivantis to continue to provide effective e-Learning solutions to companies and organizations worldwide,” said Chief Marketing Officer of Trivantis, Peter Bray expecting effective results with enhanced resources. He added that “Through this partnership, developers in Nigeria will gain access to Lectora e-Learning software from ITSA Business Consult”.
- Aerial Fibre Network operator, Phase3 Telecom is confident that their initiative will certainly improve the quality of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Nigeria. Their e-Learning initiative aims to offer top notch e-solutions to the Nigerian education sector, including e-Health, e-Banking, e-Government, e-Commerce, e-Payment and many more. Their e-Learning solution is called 3CEi innovation and was launched in 2013 to endorse a solid foundation for Nigerian students in ICT knowledge development at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The Chief Executive Officer of Phase3 Telecom, Mr. Stanley Jegede, in an interview at the Centagon International School (TCIS) in Abuja recently, said that – the company would continue to be committed to the deployment of 3CEi in schools since its programmes are targeted at helping schools to inspire and motivate the ICT innovations among tech savvy pupils and students. The programmes that have been made into an audio-visual format in English and French will also be converted to Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba Languages very soon.
Improving educational experience and enhance professional efficiency have always been a huge challenge for Nigerian people. It’s good that now we see the opportunity too. People, who couldn’t afford to access classroom or textbook, today learn through video conferences, exciting games, and live interactions. Moreover, students in Nigeria can now collect tips from international experts and degrees from world class universities and it’s all because of e-learning!