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U.S. Opens EducationUSA Advising Center in Calabar, Announces Opportunity Funds Program

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U.S. Opens EducationUSA Advising Center in Calabar Announces Opportunity Funds Program, SiliconNigeria

In its renewed efforts to reach out to students and youths in underserved communities, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria on Friday opened a new EducationUSA Advising Center in Calabar, Cross River State.  

The Calabar EducationUSA Advising Center hosted at the American Corner, 37 Ekpo Archibong Street, Calabar will offer accurate, unbiased, and comprehensive information about educational institutions in the United States, as well as guidance to prospective students on how best to access those opportunities.

Delivering keynote remarks during the opening ceremony, U.S. Mission Counselor for Public Affairs Aruna Amirthanayagam said the new EducationUSA Advising Center presents an opportunity for the youth in local communities in Cross River State and its environs to obtain a world-class education in the United States and then return home to contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth and development.  

“We are very pleased to open an EducationUSA Advising Center in Calabar. The center offers a variety of free educational resources, including public information sessions, webinars, one-on-one, cohort advising and hands-on support for completing the U.S. college and university application process,” Counselor Amirthanayagam said.  

U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli added that EducationUSA Advising Centers in Nigeria assist many determined and talented, low-income students in Nigeria who only require financial resources and access to information to better their educational future.  

Ibelli noted that applications for the 2021/2022 EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program will open on April 15 until May 31, 2021, adding that applicants are welcome from all the states in Nigeria.  

“In 2021, 19 high achieving, low-income students from southern Nigeria received full scholarships totaling $2.17 million to attend American universities and colleges for the 2020/2021 academic session.  This feat was made possible through the Opportunity Funds Program of our EducationUSA Advising Center, with support from Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited,” Ibelli added.  

In his goodwill message, Cross River State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Godwin Amanke, expressed the readiness of the state government to partner with the U.S. Mission to expand access to the services of the new EducationUSA Advising Center.   

According to the latest Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, Nigeria retained its top ranking as the number one source of African students studying in the United States. About 13,762 Nigerians study at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.  

Over the last 21 years, the EducationUSA Advising Centers in Nigeria have directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to U.S. institutions.   

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Education

Atingi eLearning Platform Reaches One Million African Youths in 1 Year

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Atingi eLearning Platform Reaches 1 Million African youths in 1 Year, SiliconNigeria

atingi (www.atingi.org), the digital learning platform of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has exceeded expectations in its first year.

Within twelve months, atingi has reached almost a million people in Africa and already enabled 100,000 of them to access vocational education and self-development courses for free.

atingi means “to achieve” in Esperanto, and the platform strives to improve the employability of young people through modern digital learning opportunities. With a large network of strategic cooperation partners – from politics and business to science and civil society – educational content which meets the needs of African audiences is made available, free of charge, via the atingi platform.

Although atingi is developed for people in all German Development Cooperation partner countries, the current focus is specifically on facilitating African economic growth. BMZ has chosen four pilot countries for a more intensive engagement, recognizing that each is in a very different stage of digital transformation – and is therefore suited as a test case to identify opportunities for pan-African scaling.

The close cooperation with the pilot countries Togo, Niger, Rwanda and Benin, enables atingi’s learning proposition to be dynamically evaluated, adapted and targeted to local needs.

Africa is recognized as a potential global workforce hub for the rest of the world because of its high youth population. In fact, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than a quarter of the world’s population of under 25s, and 15% of the world’s working population. To date, the lack of access to high quality education for its working-age citizens has been a critical inhibitor of African countries ability to compete effectively in the international labour market. There is an urgent need, therefore, for the continent to expand its pool of highly-skilled employees through the development of relevant, vocational skill sets.

This is where the role of digital transformation becomes significant. Digital technologies open up new avenues for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. In this context, online learning and orientation opportunities are essential to enabling people in Africa to keep pace with the digital transformation beyond their borders.  This not only ensures they are well qualified for the jobs of the future, it can also ensure a more integrated knowledge economy that moves Africa, and its citizens, closer to realizing their economic and personal potential.

Furthermore, it can often be challenging for local educational institutions to reach people in rural and sparsely populated areas in Africa’s emerging markets. The reality is that there is a high demand for learning opportunities and vocational skills, but there are often geographic and infrastructure barriers, which can be addressed through online learning offers. atingi enables users to access high-quality, locally-relevant, digital learning materials anytime and anywhere. Recognizing the barrier of internet connectivity, atingi also offers low-tech and offline solutions.  

The atingi development cooperation framework builds on existing local and global partnerships. Alongside the four pilot countries, a growing network of strategic cooperation partners has emerged for the development and distribution of the learning content. Renowned international partners such as Smart Africa (an alliance of 30 African digital ministries), UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Siemens Foundation are the cornerstones of the successful scaling of atingi. And that is precisely the long-term goal of the project: to scale the platform in all partner countries of the German Development Cooperation globally.

atingi project leader Jan-Gerrit Groeneveld is encouraged by the development and first stage results of the atingi initiative. He notes, “eLearning is ideal for the digital transfer of knowledge and improvement of the living conditions for many people in African countries. The Corona pandemic once again incontravertibly demonstrated to us how important it is to digitalise education, thereby facilitating access for all“.

He added that atingi has succeeded in enabling people on the ground to receive education and training via the latest technology; both ensuring people access skills development easily and that digital transformation in Africa is advanced substantially too. “Early user acceptance of the learning platform has exceeded initial expectations, which strengthens our belief that investing in digital education infrastructure on the African continent is the right way for us to contribute to unlocking the enormous local economic potential.”

Groeneveld also noted that for the next year, the aim for atingi is to grow exponentially in terms of user numbers, to scale approaches that have proven successful in the four pilot countries in other African markets, and to steadily expand cooperation with companies and learning content contributors.
Young people, women and people in rural regions are the target beneficiaries of the atingi platform. The courses offered cover a wide range of topics, such as vocational orientation, health, entrepreneurship and agriculture – all of which are aimed at increasing employability and skills. These modules are expanded and developed in a targeted manner with the help of local, strategic cooperation partners. Successful learners who complete the courses receive free digital certificates to provide evidence of the skills acquired that can be added to their CVs. In addition to English and French, some learning content is now also available in other languages, such as Spanish, Arabic and some local African languages.

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Digital Economy

Women Pivotal to Socio-economic Development And Bridging Digital Divide- Danbatta

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Women pivotal to socio-economic development and bridging digital divide- Danbatta, SiliconNigeria

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has emphasized the important role played by women in the country’s socio-economic and political space while underscoring the need to empower them in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabler for social change.

Danbatta stated this while delivering a goodwill message at a webinar organised by Zinari Communications Limited with the theme: “Mainstreaming Rural Women Enterprise Development into Digital Economy Initiative: The Opportunities, Strategies and Constraints,” which held on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

According to Danbatta, who was represented by the Head, Online Media and Special Publication, NCC, Grace Ojougboh, there is no doubt that women have been historically central to socio-economic and political development of any nation and stressed the need  for nations to focus more on how ICT can be leveraged for increased empowerment for women.

He said: “There has been a general concern that unless the gender divide between men and women is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may worsen existing inequalities between women and men which could create new forms of inequality.

“However, if the gender dimensions of ICT in terms of access and use, capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment are explicitly identified and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for political, economic and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality.”

He advocated increased collaboration between public and private-sector stakeholders toward advancing gender equality and women empowerment, notably by encouraging young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The EVC said the Commission will continue to play a front-seat role in driving the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy document (NDEPS), 2020-2030; the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and similar policies aimed at increased connectivity to all the citizens to bridge gender digital disparity.

Danbatta said the Commission constantly provides the necessary infrastructure that will guarantee ubiquitous access to telecoms services through the implementation of these policies while listing other initiatives undertaken by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), all aimed at boosting connectivity and provision of ICT tools among citizens, regardless of gender, across the length and breadth of Nigeria. He listed the initiatives to include the Community Resource centers (CRS), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), E-accessibility projects, among others.

“There is no doubt that these efforts will facilitate development of a vibrant digital ecosystem where rural women can play very important roles in our socio-economic and political space,” he added.

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Education

Mastercard Partners UNICAF to offer Cardholders 75% Scholarships for Internationally Recognized Degrees

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Mastercard Partners UNICAF to offer Cardholders 75% Scholarships for Internationally Recognized Degrees, SiliconNigeria

Unicaf, the leading online and on-campus learning platform, has entered into a two- year partnership with Mastercard to offer its premium cardholders 75% scholarships for online and on-campus studies at Unicaf’s partner universities.

 Starting the first quarter of 2021, Mastercard Gold, Platinum, World and World Elite cardholders across 12 countries in Africa (Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Rwanda), will be able to select from a wide range of high-quality degree programs offered by Unicaf’s partners and only pay 25% of the total fees in flexible manageable monthly instalments over the period of the program.

 A recent Mastercard study on consumer spending has revealed that people have been changing the way they learn new skills by transitioning to online studying as they adapt to the ‘next normal’. 50% of respondents in Nigeria, 48% in Ghana and 47% in Kenya have enrolled at an online university since the pandemic began. 

“We are committed to offering Mastercard customers the opportunity to earn internationally recognized Bachelor, Master’s or Doctoral degrees at a fraction of the cost through the Unicaf-Mastercard scholarship” said Dr. Nicos Nicolaou, CEO, Unicaf. “This partnership will provide a degree earning opportunity to Mastercard customers and we are incredibly proud to have this partnership with an organization like Mastercard.” 

“We are extremely excited to partner with Unicaf to offer our premium cardholders’ access to internationally recognized degrees at discount. As consumers in our markets embrace online learning, this is how we show dedication to our premium cardholders by offering value through lifestyle benefits and rewards that are perfectly matched to their new routines” said Ebehijie Momoh, Country Manager, West Africa, Mastercard. 

Unicaf’s comprehensive state-of-the-art digital ecosystem is seamlessly integrated with technology and services which provide the digital infrastructure that students need to study and complete their courses online. Students can interact with internationally trained tutors and fellow virtual classmates from 156 countries, offering Mastercard cardholders an international perspective and valuable insights into European, Asian and American professional practices.  Together with its university partners, Unicaf has positively transformed the lives of more than 30,000 students worldwide.

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