This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: $2 Million Learning Competition - MacArthur Selects Country

Lagos — Nigeria has been chosen as one of the 12 countries selected to participate in the second annual open call competition supported by the United States-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Foundation, according to its Nigeria Country Director, Dr. Kole Shettima, will award $2 million in grants to innovators shaping the field of digital media and learning.

Other countries, wherein winner applicants will receive between $30,000 and $250,000 each, include Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In a statement issued in Abuja, Shettima explained that eligibility was expanded this year to select countries in which MacArthur and its collaborators on the competition (US-based University of California, Irvine, Duke University and the virtual network HASTAC) have significant experience.

The MacArthur Foundation has been making grants in Nigeria since 1989 and has maintained an office in Abuja in 1994.

According to MacArthur President, Dr. Jonathan Fanton, "digital media are helping to make the world smaller, spread ideas, and encourage collaboration across borders and among people who otherwise might not have an opportunity to work together".

"To ensure support for the freshest thinking and most innovative applications of digital media to learning, we have expanded this year's competition to include international submissions."

Awards, according to Shettima, are to be given in two categories. These include Innovation in Participatory Learning Awards, which will support projects that demonstrate new modes of participatory learning, in which people take part in virtual communities, share ideas, comment on one another's projects, and advance goals together.

Successful projects will promote participatory learning in a variety of environments through the creation of new digital tools, modification of existing ones, or use of digital media in some other novel way.

Also, the Young Innovator Awards are designed to encourage young people aged 18-25 to think boldly about 'what comes next' in participatory learning and to contribute to making it happen.

Winners are to receive funding to do an internship with a sponsor organisation to help bring their most visionary ideas from the 'garage' stage to implementation.

For this competition cycle, submissions will only be accepted from applicants in the United States. Winners will receive between $5,000 and $30,000.

This year's competition, Shettima elaborated, is to include an on-line forum where applicants can post their ideas, solicit feedback, offer their services, and connect with other applicants and potential collaborators.

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