In a bid to offers teachers and educators in Nigeria the opportunity to create digital capabilities based on educational frameworks from leading international universities, HP Inc. has launched the HP Innovation and Digital Education Academy (IDEA).
The programme which is in collaboration with Intel, a leading producer of semiconductors and Mirai Partners, an education innovation consultancy.
In the COVID-19 era, educational institutions in Nigeria are scrambling with the new realities and are finding themselves forced into rethinking their operational models in the midst to ensure minimal disruption to their student’s learning experience and their career development.
While technologies are increasingly available, teachers find themselves navigating new territory as they balance in-person, online, and hybrid learning.
The Senior Education Business Lead for the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe at HP Inc., Mayank Dhingra, said, “Education is among the worst hit sectors from the pandemic.
At the same time, it is one of the most promising sectors that – if we get it right – can reap the benefits of this new way of learning. In fact, we can now reach even more people than we ever did before.
While the technology is advancing fast, there is a constant need to innovate to remain resilient. Hence, we need to make sure that teaching staff are able to acquire the right skills to take advantage of blended and digital learning solutions, which is why we have partnered with Mirai and Intel to launch HP IDEA.”
“This program is exciting as it is focused on pedagogy rather than based on specific product. This way we can equip educators with the latest tools and best practices in teaching and learning, which in turn will enable better learning outcomes,” he said.
The Director General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, added, “The teacher is the singular and most important individual in the education ecosystem and this partnership is a welcome development at such a time as this.
Being an educator myself, this program would give teachers and educators the needed opportunity and expertise to be digitally inclined, acquire the right skills for a blended and digital learning solution and navigate new territories as they balance in-person, online, and hybrid learning. We are working closely to onboard our teachers to improve their capacity which would, in turn, reflect on our students’ learning outcome”.
The Co-founder of Mirai, Christine Nasserghodsi, commented, “We have been supporting schools in their response to COVID-19 since February. What began as a crisis response has evolved into a long-term approach to teaching, learning, leadership, and the use of digital tools and resources.
Effective distance and hybrid learning require innovation and a deep understanding of learning design, one aspect of which is the use of technology.
No one is better equipped to shape the future of education than teachers and school leaders. That is the core value of the HP IDEA program which we have translated into a year-long program for select schools.”
The program is mapped against and delivers on United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s), the CESA objectives (Continental Education Strategy for Africa), the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Ministry of Education goals for UAE. The academy also incorporates world class research and frameworks from Harvard Graduate School of Education and University of Michigan.
As a result, Ministries of Education across the region, namely Nigeria, UAE and some more have shown great interest and are participating in the program by onboarding their teachers and school leaders to the new HP IDEA.
Furthermore, private education providers have also joined HP’s newly launched platform, which marks a great start to the program as educators can now acquire lean and flexible teaching methods.
How Internet Connectivity In Public Schools Can Save Nigeria’s Education System
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.
NCC Pledges Increased Collaboration With Varsities
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has pledged to increase collaboration with higher institutions of learning across the country in order to transform Nigeria into a full knowledge-based economy.
The Chairman, Board of Commissioners of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, stated this during a courtesy visit by NCC Board members to Bayero University, Kano (BUK) at the weekend as part of activities lined up for the 2020 NCC Board retreat held in Kano State.
According to Akande, who praised the university for producing Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, the NCC superintends a sector that is knowledge-driven and therefore, would not be able to achieve its mandate without strengthening collaboration with citadels of knowledge like BUK and other higher institutions of learning to produce the knowledge base needed to support the growth of the telecoms sector.
“The NCC is superintending a sector that is knowledge-driven. In the absence of the citadels of learning, one could only imagine what would have become of the communications industry. So, if we come to Kano, we need to come to the prime centre of learning in Kano and other universities across the state,” he said.
Thanking the university further for “contributing” Danbatta to the industry, Akande said the sector, which NCC regulates, has also benefited immensely from the knowledge being imparted by the university.
He said the BUK has produced a good ambassador, excellent professional and a man with administrative acumen and superb human relations in Prof. Danbatta.
“Hence, the Board of NCC decided to visit Bayero University with the EVC, who is a ‘home boy’ and to show our appreciation for the services of the EVC, an outstanding product of the university, has been rendering to the nation at the NCC.
We are here also to show that we work together and our coming to Bayero University would be an expression of appreciation of Danbatta’s good work at the NCC,” he said.
In his remarks, Danbatta said all the achievements “we have recorded as NCC can be attributed to the team spirit and cooperation between the Management and Board of NCC even as we are poised to achieve more,” adding that “Our profound prayer is that we leave the NCC better than we met it.”
Appreciating the university’s management for hosting the NCC’s despite a short notice, Danbatta used the opportunity to also congratulate Prof. Sagir Abbas for his appointment as the 11th Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university.
While expressing delight to receive the NCC Board, Prof. Abbas noted that the school management cancelled all engagements to receive the board in order to show the university’s high regards for Danbatta, whose name, he said, cannot be omitted in the history of Bayero University.
“Prof. Danbatta has served the university diligently, as lecturer, as head of department, as Dean, as director and he was also a former VC in Kano University of Science and Technology, but wherever he goes, you find him relating to his base.
“So, we hold him in very high esteem and we are always happy to see him and his team discharging the national assignment his is saddled with and Bayero University is proud to be associated with him. We have no doubt that the Board and Management of NCC will enjoy him more as he begins his second term in office,” he said.
According to the Vice Chancellor, the university has received many donations of computers, iPads and other interventions such as professorial endowments from NCC, all of which, he said, have had positive impacts on the university’s academic programmes.
Sagir, however, appealed for more digital assistance by the Commission in supporting the university more in the area of its ongoing restructuring to fully accommodate virtual learning into its system in view of the current reality globally where ICT is mediating the lecturer-student interaction.
360 Young Nigerians Receive Scholarships from MTN Foundation
MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 360 university students at a virtual ceremony on November 12, 2020.
The scholarships were awarded under the MTNF scholarship schemes made up of the MTNF Science & Technology Scholarship (STSS) and Scholarship for the Blind Students (SBSS).
In attendance were the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, represented by the Technical Assistant, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi; Honourable Minister of Science & Technology represented by the Acting Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, Dr. Francis Chizea; former Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson amongst other notable dignitaries.
Speaking at the ceremony, the representative of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Olufemi Adeluyi said: “We are here with the MTN Foundation to celebrate scholars that have excelled in school. MTN is also supporting people with disabilities by funding their education and this is very commendable. The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is constantly working towards elevating skills over degrees. We are also committed to ensuring that individuals are empowered with the right tools and skills.”
Also speaking, Honourable Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu represented by Dr. Francis Chizea said: “I am glad that MTN, in giving back to the society through its foundation, set up a scholarship scheme to empower the youths and as well, drive science and technology. This is a welcome development and a commendable effort that other organizations need to emulate.”
A major highlight of the ceremony was a fireside chat themed “Insight. Influence. Impact” with thought leaders sharing inspiring insights with the scholars. Nigeria’s former Minister for Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson reiterated the role MTN continues to play in the ICT space and its impact on the country. “We need to get a workforce that is very comfortable with technology. We are in a state where we need world-class educational institutions and interventions such as this that will enable students to be very vast in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Johnson said.
Leading to the ceremony, this year’s graduating students from the scholarship programme were hosted to a career incubation boot camp facilitated by experts from Google, Oracle, Cisco and Jobberman. Facilitators shared insights on various opportunities amongst other vital employability tips.
Speaking on the scholarship award ceremony and workshop for graduands, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma said, “Providing access to quality education is the first step to a world of opportunity for the youth of our nation. We know it does not stop there. We need to also ensure that they are adequately prepared for the workplace. We hope that the fireside chat at the award ceremony will inspire the students to reach for greatness and innovation.
“Furthermore, it is our belief that the employability workshop held earlier will enrich the career path of the graduating students. The MTNF scholarship scheme is more than just funds; it is a commitment to build the capacity of our youth. We wish all our graduating scholars success as they set out to take on the world and congratulate all awardees as the next set of young nation builders in the making.”
The newly awarded scholars will each enjoy a scholarship grant worth N200,000 annually till graduation as long as they maintain a CGPA of 3.5 or its equivalent. The scholarship covers tuition, book allowance and stipend. Till date, MTN Foundation has awarded scholarships to 3,829 students valued at over NGN 2.1Billion.
The MTNF annual scholarships are awarded to high performing students in Nigerian public tertiary institutions.
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