Verraki Partners, a business solutions company focused on accelerating the development and transformation of Africa, has outlined solutions that can bridge the knowledge gap and expedite mass, affordable, accessible and quality education for most Nigerians.
Speaking on the sidelines of the grand finale of the Professor Ayodele Awojobi Design Competition (PAADC) held at the University of Lagos recently, Kelvin Balogun, senior partner and head of the ventures unit of Verraki, asserted that the reason why Nigeria has seeming intractable challenges was because the country had not sufficiently applied new technology thinking to them.
Spotlighting Nigerian education, Balogun opined that the frayed education system in Nigeria could prove to spur innovation in how to deliver ad hoc education, especially to the country’s lost generation. He noted that building brick-and-mortar schools may never catch up with Nigeria’s rapidly expanding student population and proposed a new way to tackle the problem.
“We can tackle our education problem by applying new thinking, leveraging technology such as the mobile phone and broadband Internet. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, Internet subscribers in Nigeria are about 114 million as at February 2019, largely via mobile phones. The mobile phone has become the preferred device of choice for payments, ride-hailing and healthcare in Nigeria; it can be used for education and learning too. Education via mobile phones is a leveller and will guarantee access to quality education for everyone, irrespective of financial status or social class, language or tribe. It also ensures access to low-cost teaching resources, added value compared to traditional teaching and a complementary solution for teacher training.”
Continuing, Balogun said, “Across levels, we can develop applications that give certificated education, fit-for-purpose and pragmatic, while complementing current education realities. Students can access online lectures, compressed for mobile phones with exercises, theory, games, peer-to-peer support, ranking competitions, tests, self-assessment, online resources and incentives for those that complete their classes. Aside from the 10.5 million primary school -age children currently out of school in Nigeria, mobile learning brings education to our underserved people and communities, people who would otherwise not have had access. It is highly scalable, low-touch and addresses the bottom of pyramid with the basic core – English, Mathematics and Social Studies/African History. An example is Nokia’s MoMaths (Mobile Mathematics) programme, which gives South African children from low-income families access to high-quality education. MoMaths was launched by Nokia and the country’s Department of Science and Technology, aligned to its CAPS curriculum and provided a complimentary mobile learning platform to all South African high school Maths learners in Grade 10 to 12. To leapfrog connectivity challenges, we can explore a similar model to Rwanda, which partnered with OneWeb to launch a satellite (named Icyerekezo) which will bring internet connectivity to students in rural Nkombo Island.”
Balogun expressed confidence in Nigeria’s ability to apply new thinking to solve perennial problems efficiently, in the absence of legacy systems and infrastructure, and empower its teeming population.