Experts have advised government at the state and federal levels in Nigeria to integrate technology in education to expand access to learning and ensure inclusion.
This was the summary of submissions made during the April edition of 'The Edtech Mondays', a monthly programme facilitated by MasterCard Foundation, in partnership with Co-creation Hub Limited (CcHUB), held in Lagos recently.
The April edition with the theme 'Digi Learning - Can Education Technology Expand Access to Education?' featured the duo of Olubayo Adekanmbi, Founder and Lead Mentor, Data Science Nigeria, and Rudranarayan Sahoo, the Education Manager for UNICEF in Nigeria as panelists with Joyce Daniels as the moderator.
In his remarks, Adekanmbi stated that technology remains a key driver in increasing access to education, considering the age we live in. He described technology as a great enabler to learning for all categories of children especially with the increasing access to mobile phones in Nigeria.
Emphasizing the significance of technology to education, he noted that the concept of learning is fast-changing as many digital devices have provided learning opportunities for children in a more interactive, customised and student-centered manner.
"Technology is as good as how we localize it or how we make it to be student-centered. Apart from that, learning should be localised to the reality of the child. Learning theory must lead while education must be the slave helping us to customize what is possible," he added.
Citing examples of the partnership support between his non-profit organization, 'We Learn at Home and MasterCard Foundation' on some key initiatives, the data scientist noted that technology has contributed a lot to aid access to education not only for children in urban areas, but those in rural communities, as there are now numerous innovative means to deliver it.
He further noted that technology fused with learning is fast becoming a lifestyle that truly reflects the world.
Analyzing the theme, Sahoo noted that though the enrolment rate of school children in Nigeria is at an increasing pace, the reality on the ground revealed that the figure has not translated to improved learning outcomes as a great proportion of the children still lack basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Highlighting the current educational system, Sahoo said the time has come for a total reform of the sector if the country is serious about global competitiveness. According to him, 21st century schools must be prepared to offer young people creative skills, problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills.
Sahoo also explained that UNICEF is supporting the Federal Ministry of Education in digitalizing the curriculum and instructional materials. He added that UNICEF is partnering the Federal Ministry of Education in deploying the learning passport to reach out to about 25 million Nigerian children by the end of 2022, as well as capacity development of 30,000 teachers across the country, and the provision of ICT infrastructure needed in establishing ICT hubs.
He further revealed that according to statistics obtained, out of the 58,000 teachers in the North-eastern part of Nigeria, comprising Gombe, Adamawa, and Yobe, 28,000 teachers do not have the required teaching skills to teach primary school-age children. This means that the low quality of learning outcomes for children comes as a result of poor quality of teaching skills exhibited by the teachers.
"It is important for all concerned stakeholders, including government to rise to the occasion by embracing technology as a veritable tool to address the challenge. They cannot afford to continue to fold their arms while the decline in learning outcome persists," he said.