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Mastercard STEM Programme Trains One Million Girls in 30 Countries

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Mastercard STEM Programme Trains One Million Girls in 30 Countries, SiliconNigeria
  • To Reach 5 million Girls By 2025

Mastercard has announced its signature STEM program, Girls4Tech, reached its initial milestone goal of educating one million girls. The program has a new and inspiring goal to reach five million girls by 2025.

The technology company’s signature program, which launched in 2014, offers activities and curriculum built on global science and math standards – and incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in technology and innovation – to enable children to discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer.  

The Girls4Tech workshops hosted across Kenya and Nigeria, have inspired numerous young girls to build the skills they need for STEM careers. “Through the Girls4Tech programme, we’re extending our commitment to Africa’s next generation of women leaders by equipping them with valuable skills that ensure more women have a voice in the development of the products and services of the future,” says Ifeoma Dozie, Director, Marketing and Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard.

Starting as a hands-on, in-person session run by employee volunteers, the program has reached more children by expanding into new topics such as AI and Cybersecurity, and extending access of their STEM curriculum through online resources on Girls4Tech Connect which has been translated into fourteen languages.

Susan Warner, vice president of community engagement and founder of Mastercard’s Girls4Tech program said, “Our goal is to build foundational STEM knowledge and develop critical 21st century skills girls need for their studies and career success. Our program sparks their curiosity in STEM and teaches them real-world applications of those skills.”

How Girls4Tech reaches future STEMinists

  • Announced a new partnership to create a Girls4Tech digital curriculum with Discovery Education — the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms — to reach 1.6 million girls by 2023. 
  • Partnering with scalable organizations such as AIF, Be Better China, Discovery Education, Major League Baseball, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), R&A, Scholastic and YCAB in Indonesia to further scale the program and offer STEM skills in unique ways to girls ages 8-16.
  • Adding new curriculum to give students deeper exposure to the growing fields of cybersecurity and AI.
  • Extending programs, Girls4Tech 2.0 for girls aged 13-16, as well as a 20-week coding program, Girls4Tech & Code for girls 8-10.

Moving the needle for Girls in STEM

In 2019, Mastercard commissioned a study seeking to understand gender and generational differences surrounding perceptions and attitudes of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In addition to STEM-based topics, the survey investigated challenges and motivations to pursing college majors and careers path.

The study showed that females are less confident, receive less encouragement and need more mentors in STEM. Mastercard’s Girls4Tech program provides each of those elements to young women. To learn more about Girls4Tech and access the online lessons, please visit Girls4Tech Connect.

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Education

AIT Emerges Ghana’s Best Tech Varsity at 2020 UMB Awards

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AIT Emerges Ghana’s Best Tech Varsity at 2020 UMB Awards, SiliconNigeria

Accra Institute of Technology (AIT) [www.ait.edu.gh], consistently ranked the top private University in Ghana and one of leading educational institutions in West Africa, has been announced the winner of the three most prestigious awards at the just-ended 2020 UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards in Accra.

The AIT was awarded: The Most Outstanding Institution in COVID-19 Times Award; The Best Technology University Award and; The Best Educator of The Year Award to the President of AIT.

As one of the ECOWAS sub-region’s top education centres, AIT is home to thousands of Nigerians and other West African students. Accra Institute of Technology has won the Best Technology University for the fourth year running.

This enviable position was put to test when COVID-19 set in with the university coming out with excellence in demonstrating how to deploy technologies and systems to ensure uninterrupted academic activity in an educational institution even in the face of a global pandemic.

AIT since its inception in 2009 has extensively been deploying cutting-edge educational delivery technologies and systems to support teaching and learning in all its undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

“As the only university in Ghana operating both campus-based and Open University systems, AIT is one of the few universities in the sub-region to easily and seamlessly roll-over all its academic program delivery and operations online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Therefore, campus-based face-to-face teaching and learning had zero impact on the operations of the university. This success among many others is what accounted for the award for the Most Outstanding Institution in Covid-19 times,” said the Registrar and Chief of Administration of AIT, Mr. Dominic Osei-Boakye while receiving the awards, on behalf of the university.

He added: “The AIT success story cannot be told without mentioning the creativity, strong leadership, and direction from their able President, Prof. Clement Dzidonu. The award-winning Professor has, through AIT transformed educational delivery in the country using Technology. It is little wonder then that he deservedly won the Best Educator of The Year Award.

Mr. Osei Boakye expressed appreciation to the organizers for recognizing AIT’s achievements as a leading technological university providing quality tertiary education in Ghana. The Award is instituted and awarded by the Ghana Tertiary Awards.

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Anchor Varsity, New Horizons Inaugurate IT Empowerment Centre

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Anchor Varsity New Horizons Inaugurate IT Empowerment Centre, SiliconNigeria

Anchor University has partnered with the world’s largest IT training organization, New Horizons to commission a new ultra-tech ICT and e-business centre.

 Speaking during the commissioning in Lagos, the university vice chancellor, Professor Joseph Afolayan, said that the university is passionate about raising exceptionally competent graduates who are conscientious global players in their different field of works.

He said he was convinced that this partnership and the impact of the quality infrastructure being deployed and commissioned will complement the academic regiments and that Anchor University students will make optimum use of the facility for personal and professional development.

“Anchor University does not have time to wait or waste, we are headed to achieving the impossible as a university and that within the slightest possible time. The plan is to widen our horizon and take the leap in all we do, we can’t afford to wait or crawl”, Afolayan added. 

The managing director and the chief executive officer, New Horizons, Mr. Tim Akano praised the university management for deeming it fit to partner with New Horizons in order to build a new and higher profiled graduates who are empowered digitally to become the toast of employers globally or successful technopreneurs like the world’s richest Technopreneurs like Mark Zuckeberg, Bill Gates, among others. 

Akano said the deployment of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) training skill sets like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoTs), etc under the partnership programme are strategic measures to empower Nigerian graduates to be at par with their more advantaged foreign colleagues as well as ultimately position Nigeria at the front-row of IT-driven nations of the world both structurally and economically. 

He noted that the project-driven entrepreneurship empowerment approach will serve to stem the loss of promising Nigerian graduates to current situation where many graduates seek to travel abroad to engage in menial and condescending jobs.

The chief universities operations officer, New Horizons, Dr. Bolaji Olaoye assured that the computer hardware, software and courseware are original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) standard and every student will be trained and mentored by internationally certified technical instructors. He said the university students will be groomed with the same top level standards which New Horizons has established across the globe.

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How Internet Connectivity In Public Schools Can Save Nigeria’s Education System

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How Internet Connectivity In Public Schools Can Save Nigeria’s Education System, SiliconNigeria

A year ago when secondary schools across Nigeria were kicking off the 2019/2020 academic session, not many public secondary schools in the country, especially those in the rural areas, would have listed internet connectivity as one of the essential infrastructures needed to boost learning and open a door of opportunities to the students and teachers. Today, in the space of one year, a lot has changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the world into a lockdown in March, has further brought to the fore, the need for internet connectivity in schools and why digital learning is essential for today’s classroom experience across the country.

Data from UNESCO revealed that, globally, over 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom in April 2020 due to the pandemic. While they were stuck at home during the lockdown, the learning of many students was halted while some in the private schools took classrooms online to make up for lost hours.

The tremendous learning opportunities that internet connectivity brings to education were better experienced during the lockdown when students and teachers took learning and interaction online where they had access to a plethora of learning resources.

Students without access to internet connectivity miss out on several educational opportunities that prepares them to function in the global economy, which in turn negatively impacts the future of the country.

Despite the challenges of infrastructure, Nigerian private schools appear to be moving with the rest of the world as they have better access to the internet to improve education and the learning experience. However, the same cannot be said about public schools who are still miles behind in internet adoption.

Cost and technology infrastructure are the two obvious barriers that worry stakeholders and educationalists. Technology infrastructure is expensive, and setting it up in public schools, where a vast majority of students come from low-income homes where they live on less than $2 per day, is another hard piece of the puzzle.

According to the American Internet Society, the best results of internet connectivity in public schools are likely to be achieved through strategic partnerships between government and private sector stakeholders like the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as well as teachers and educational administrators which has been the case in some parts of the world.

In 2008, Nokia partnered the South African government to develop ‘MoMaths’, a wide-ranging set of maths problems that can be accessed and answered via internet-enabled mobile phones. The project gave low-income learners access to high-quality education and allowed high school pupils across South Africa to learn theory and solving sums on their handsets as a result. Research by Nokia shows that students’ average maths scores improve by an average of 14 percentage points when using the service.

In Nigeria, an example of such public-private sector synergy is the project being championed by ipNX, a pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company.

From 2011, for a number of years, ipNX provided free internet service to 55 public secondary schools in Lagos state. The initiative, which is part of ipNX’s corporate social investment dedicated to education, was recently extended to Oyo State to solve one of the biggest impending factors limiting the adoption of e-learning in public schools.

On October 8, 2020, ipNX unveiled free high speed broadband internet services set up at two public secondary schools in Oyo State – Government College Ibadan and Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, in a bid to improve access to technology for students and teachers.

According to Group Executive Director, HR & Corporate Services, ipNX, Folashade Efiong-Bassey, the project “will facilitate the goals of Oyo State in improving the education, science and technology sectors, which is a vision of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde. 

Moreover, this initiative complements the recent Federal Government intention to implement Zero-rating for education websites as part of efforts to ameliorate the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s education sector.”

In no small measure, broadband internet will provide more opportunities for students and teachers to find the best practices, create new solutions, connect and inspire each other, all towards the achievement of better learning outcomes. With the empowerment of students in this way, the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria appear to be on course.

The end goal of this investment transcends the outcome of students performance from just passing exams but to actually harnessing opportunities from scholarships, jobs, employability training, and contribution to overall national development.

As part of efforts to solve the challenge of connectivity in the country, the Nigerian government has also developed the second phase of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025. The goal of the plan is to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage).  

This move by ipNX to provide internet connectivity in Nigerian public schools is another significant contribution to the actualisation of the government’s National Broadband Plan. As Nigeria moves to achieve this ambitious, but realistic plan, public-private sector partnerships like the one between ipNX and the state governments, will prove to be the much needed fuel to fire up the engine of Nigeria’s education and human development.

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