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Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono

African EduTech Conference: Why Time Is Now To Provide Access, Modernise Delivery Method For Teaching In Nigeria

IT NEWS NIGERIA:

Experts have said the time is now for Nigeria as nation to provide access and improve delivery mechanisms for teaching because of increasing knowledge gap from classroom and workplace, and at the same time evolve urgent solution to worsening illiteracy level of about 60 million and 10 million Out-Of-School Children.

That was the consensus at  the just concluded maiden edition of African Edu-Tech Conference organised by the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with EduFirst.ng; a subsidiary of Skool Media with support from Olashore International School.

With reportedly 60 million illiterate adults and 10.2million out of school children, experts at the maiden edition of African EduTech Conference, have called for urgent rejigging of the nation’s education system such that the growing demography would not turn a curse to the economy.

On the backdrop of the statistics that 60% of the country’s population is below the age of 30, the Keynote Speaker and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono, said all hands must be on deck to ensure the nation’s education system is focused on churning out graduate with 21st skills set.

The Permanent Secretary’s keynote dwelt on the Conference theme: ‘Education, Technology & Jobs; A Synergy that Works’, said, technology is the ultimate tool to leverage to enable viable education and job creation.

“With the depressing statistics, there is need to provide access, modernised delivery mechanism for teaching; increase the number of teachers; provide enabling environment and ensure even resources, as means to recreate the education system.

“Education system has to provide graduates with adequate skills for present and future workplace. CBN’s 2018 statistics shows that Diaspora remittances to Nigeria exceeded the proceeds from oil revenue. In other words, we are no longer an oil economy rather human resource-based nation. Therefore, we need to stop brain drain.

“We must make our education competitive and attractive. Today, we use games to make education fun such that the children while playing they learn too. So, we must make our graduates employable.

“At the same time, we have to emphasis entrepreneurship. To create more jobs, we need more entrepreneurs who are using technology to innovate whether in agriculture, health, education, telecommunications, manufacturing, etc.

“As a government, we are keen to always facilitate public-private-partnerships that enable investments in the sector knowing that the expectations are huge.

He also called on stakeholders to create a structure for accountability among the school owners, teachers and students as means to tackle laxity in the system.

He however, did not fail to emphasis on the need to equip and re-equip the classrooms and laboratories with state-of-the-art tools to facilitate effective teaching and learning environment.   

Earlier, the Acting President and Chairman in Council, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Kayode Falowo, said that Conference: ‘Education, Technology & Jobs; A Synergy that Works’, was convened as part of the Chamber’s mandate to support the socio-economic development of Nigeria through educational development.

He said the Chamber African Edu-Tech platform will continue to provide the government, regulatory agencies, e.g Federal Ministry of Education, NUC, NERDC, WAEC, etc. and educational professionals, the opportunity to interact and share experiences on the revitalization of Nigeria’s education system, through the application of technology and innovation as key ingredients for educational transformation. 

On his part, the General Manager, Partnership Implementation at Skool Media Nigeria Limited, Mr. Charles Dungor, told TechEconomy.ng that the goal for African Edu-Tech Conference was to bring all stakeholders in the education space to brainstorm on how best engineer a better system that recognises need for grooming students with 21st Century skills.

“I am sure that in the global scale we all know what is happening in Nigeria due to the decadence in the Nigerian educational system. We believe developing a platform as this will be an avenue for people to interact: proffer solutions; get public-private participants under a roof to dialogue and see how best to tackle the challenges so we can become globally competitive.

“The goal is simple: we have a lot of young people moving from the Secondary and colleges to universities, and other graduating from the universities, but they are not employable. This informed the theme of the conference, ‘Education, Technology & Jobs; A Synergy that Works’. How does this work? It deals with a competitive and effective interaction among stakeholders in the education sector, innovation (ICT) ecosystem, public-private sector participants to synergize,” Mr. Dungor said.

He continued, “As the first edition there will be a communiqué from the Conference to be sent to the government to highlight issues that were portrayed and solutions or recommendations proffered to resolve those educational issues.

“We have the body in charge of curriculum; the NCC that regulates telecoms and can recommend how they could go about assisting the education sector through their product offerings; NECO, which is an examination body and also WAEC; I believe some of their takeaways from this conference will reflect in decision and policy-making processes, just as the Acting Minister of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono who doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, delivered the keynote; he spoke ‘to the topic’ and proffered solutions from the Government point of view. He also staked clearly what the government is doing to bridge the gaps in the system and took feedback from the participants mostly from the private sector”.

 Also commenting, the Principal, Olishore International School, Osun State, Mr. Derrick Smith, said in an interview with TechEconomy.ng that “the case with our schools is that we have to review the curriculum. We have to upscale the courses to reflect skills for the 21st Century among the students; such as critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, imagination, communication skills that will help them become citizens of the world.

“The curriculum should vive room for the children to develop personally; bring up ideas, research, because it is no longer fashionable to teach-for-passing-exams; our children need to have the skills that are necessary in the workplace when they graduate which are also constantly changing. It is no longer interesting to train a child for a particular job; their skills should work in a verity of jobs,” he added.

Olishore International School is a leading community committed to academic excellence, nurturing each child to their full potential, developing leaders for the dynamic global society in the 21st Century.

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) carefully designed and implemented the Advanced Digital Awareness Program for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) as means to bridge the digital gaps that exist in the academia.

This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, who spoke through the Director Research and Development NCC, Ephraim Nwokonneya.

He said that the project involves the provision of suites of e-learning applications for academics, students in tertiary institutions.

The EVC whose speech dwelt on the theme: ‘Promoting Internet Accessibility for Inclusive Learning and Development in Nigeria’, said that internet accessibility is at the heart of digital inclusiveness.

“It is indeed the practice of ensuring that there are no barriers to prevent interaction with or access to the internet”, the NCC boss said, “Coming down home to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), facilitating the development of a knowledge-based, inclusive and globally competitive environment, is at the heart of our regulatory focus. Hence, the first item on the current 8-point agenda of the Commission is to facilitate broadband penetration in the country. We have carefully chosen this critical agenda to underscore the fact that the provision, access and use of affordable fixed and mobile broadband are critical for ubiquitous internet accessibility.”

NCC’s ADAPTI program involves the provision of computers, other ICT equipment and necessary facilities to provide lecturers, staff and students with the requisite ICT skills essential for the 21st Century digital economy.

“Through this program the Commission is able to specifically provide the tools that will enable familiarity, skill development and confidence in the utilization of ICT in teaching, research and learning”, he said.

The Conference had in attendance the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono; Director General, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Bunmi Afolabi; the Co-Founder and Project Coordinator at Skool Media, Moses Imayi; Digital Innovation & Country Manager, EduFirst Ng, Idris Oladipo; Principal, Olishore International School, Mr. Derrick Smith; Principal Consultant, Leading Learning Limited, Folasade Adefisayo; Teal Lead, HR Strategy & Projects, First Bank, Tomilayo Esan, among other speakers and moderators. It also featured exhibitions, presentations by students, panel discussions, etc.

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