Massive open online courses have made it easy for people to gain access to quality education materials and training designed for international audiences. Thankfully, a few Startups in the Edutech space, are creating similar platforms, targeted at Primary and Secondary school students. Recently, I was with Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder, Passnownow.com and we had a discussion on the provision of quality education, through technology.
Toyosi stated that she is worried about the poor state of education that is currently persisting in the country. This, according to her, is the because, we are looking for people to effectively and conscientiously run our private sector as well as take the reign of the public sector. “We are not raising children that have any form of qualitative advantage with their colleagues in other parts of the world”, she, however, observed.
She is not also happy wit on the part of the government and even on the part of the private sector players, as regards elevating the quality of education, especially, the teachers. “I will like to be in a country where teachers are highly paid, given equal remuneration, equal respect and regards as much as bankers, lawyers and other prestigious professionals are”, she maintained.
Toyosi observed that most people who opt to become teachers in Nigeria, are usually those who have searched for other jobs, but did not succeed, as well as many unqualified teachers, who are, in some cases, not as good as the students they are teaching. She also stated that many of the teachers are not motivated and they do not feel like stakeholders in a process where they are supposed to be the most primary people to be consulted by the government, parents and the private sector. “You think about all these issues and then, you wonder about the quality of the schools. You think about the children that are learning and sitting on the floor in very terrible environment, where no form of unwholesome learning can happen in those places”, she observed.
Those children, she reiterated, cannot, therefore, be put side by side with children from Ghana, UK, Finland, Canada and the USA, and other countries that are prioritizing education. She gave the example of what is currently happening in Rwanda, where private schools are shutting down because parents are now taking their children to public schools because of the high quality of education currently obtained in public schools. Toyosi observed that, Nigeria cannot claim to be the giant of Africa, with the current poor state of its education.
In her opinion, Toyosi is of the view that, technology be a very potent tool in the transformation of the educational sector in Nigeria. The first thing she wants Nigeria to look at, is the democratization of access to quality education content for children, especially, children from low income earning parents and rural communities. She noted that the schools that we currently have, are inadequate to cater for the needs of Nigerian children.
“We should also be thinking of how technology will enable children to have personalized learning, so that, children are able to learn at their own pace, read ahead and prepare ahead of classes”, Toyosi opined. She stated that we should also be thinking of the concept of disruptive innovation, to note how technology has impacted on various sectors, like Finance, Payments, Ecommerce, etc.
Toyosi is also of the view that, contrary to the popular thinking that, utilizing technology in education is expensive, it is, in fact, not expensive. She stated that, it is cheaper to build a huge technological framework that provides an open source, where children can learn basic technology, basic science, social science and English, as well as all the subjects provided in the Nigerian educational curriculum, from Primary school to the University level. “You cannot use yesterday’s knowledge to face today’s challenges and the kind of education that Nigerian children are getting does not prepare them for the future at all”, she observed.
According to Toyosi, teachers and students have to be carried along by State governments, in a bid to making the children embrace technology. This is because, most States focus only on the children and at the end of the day, they fail, just because they did not carry the teachers, who were going to teach the children along.”The teachers who are going to teach these children have to be tech-savvy”, she opined.
Toyosi does not believe that, technology will, forever, support and complement the efforts of teachers, in response to the notion that technology might, one day replace the teachers in schools. “I think that, in Nigeria, the government and the parents need to prioritize teachers as much as possible”, she concluded.