BBYDI: Harnessing Education Technology in Africa: Scoping Study

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Brain Builder Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), a non-profit organisation with a passion for education, transparency and accountability earlier today in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital launched the NGO’s Issue Brief, FactSheet and research titled: “Harnessing Education Technology in Africa: Scoping Study.”

In his remark, the immediate past Executive Director of the organisation, Mr Olasupo Abideen Opeyemi, said the documents assessed the impacts of COVID-19 on Africa and Nigeria’s education system and offered recommendations to relevant authorities and stakeholders.

“As we have seen in the past year, emergencies can take many forms — natural disasters, pandemics, economic turmoil, and more. These events can disrupt our daily lives and routines in unimaginable ways, and one of the areas that is most affected is education.”

Read the speech in full below:

Good morning, gentlemen of the press and distinguished ladies and gentlemen. I sincerely thank you all for honouring our invitation and welcome you to the launching of our Issue Brief, FactSheet and research titled “Harnessing Education Technology in Africa: Scoping Study”. The documents assessed the impacts of COVID-19 on Africa and Nigeria’s education system and offered recommendations to relevant authorities and stakeholders.

I stand before you today to speak about the pressing need for education technology in emergency situations. As we have seen in the past year, emergencies can take many forms – natural disasters, pandemics, economic turmoil, and more. These events can disrupt our daily lives and routines in unimaginable ways, and one of the areas that is most affected is education.

When schools are forced to close or students are unable to attend in-person classes, it can be challenging to continue providing a high-quality education. This is where education technology comes into play. By leveraging the power of technology, we can continue to provide students with access to learning materials, connect them with teachers and peers, and keep them engaged and motivated.

As an organization that has always engaged in advocacy towards expanding access to education in Nigeria, we were deeply worried about the negative impacts of Covid-19 on the country’s education system. This informed our collaboration with the Global Campaign for Education (GCE).

Permit me to at this point, acknowledge the immense support and contributions of the Global Campaign for Education towards the success of this project. The contributions of GCE to this research work is a demonstration of its commitment to the development of public education not only in Nigeria but across the globe.

Established in 1999, the GCE is a civil society movement that promotes and defends education as a basic human right. The organisation campaigns and advocates at the international, regional and national level to put pressure on governments and the international community to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.

Edtech provided a bridge for students to continue their education and for teachers to continue teaching, even when they were physically apart. It allowed for virtual classrooms, access to learning materials and resources, and communication between teachers and students.

But edtech is not just a stopgap solution for the pandemic. It has the potential to transform education and make it more accessible, personalized, and effective for all students. It allows for the use of innovative tools and techniques that can enhance the learning experience and improve student outcomes.

Imagine a world where every student has access to high-quality digital learning materials, personalized learning opportunities, and the support of skilled teachers. This is the power of education technology, and it is within our reach.

In short, edtech has played a vital role in helping us navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so in the future. It is a key component of the education of the future and will help us build a more resilient and adaptable education system.

EDTECH IN NIGERIA

According to the World Bank, Nigeria experienced a significant expansion in access to education during the last few decades. However, the country still has the highest number of out-of-school (OOS) children in the world. 11.1 million children aged between 6 and 15 were out of school in 2020, representing 1 in 12 of all OOS children globally and 22 percent of all children in this age group in Nigeria. The OOS children increased to 20 million in 2022.

The infrastructure to support e-learning is poor in the country with only 57% of Nigerians having access to electricity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nigeria has a 44.7 percent broadband penetration rate as of October 2022.

Nigeria maintains its 3rd spot among the 26 Sub-Saharan African countries in the inclusive Internet Index 2022 and features in the top 3 countries in Affordability, Relevance and Readiness, regionally. However, despite a strong performance regionally, the country ranks 64th globally, as Availability (81st) remains a particular weakness. (III 2022) Nigerian government at the national and state levels utilized the use of radio, television and online learning platforms to address the situation of children outside the classroom during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Recommendations:

Distinguished members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, the documents we are unveiling today provides different recommendations that point at the responsibilities of the Government, Management of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Media, Civil Society organization, Traditional and Religious Leaders and Young People in the country.

Harnessing EdTech in Africa Scoping Study
Training of teachers on how they could use EdTech tools in classroom activities. This should be a continuous process and should be incorporated into the teaching professional training manual.

EdTech should be considered an effective mechanism for supporting learning, whether or not there is a pandemic. This will create a sense of familiarization for the government, teachers and pupils. Schools should from time-to-time deployed EdTech in the day-to-day class activities.

While the provision of electricity is very important, the government should encourage the use of solar energy in schools as an alternative power supply, especially in hard-to-reach rural communities where electricity is non-existence. This should be supported with the EdTech devices such as tablets. A one-pupil-one tablet is also possible and could go a long way to address EdTech gap in schools.

There should be awareness campaigns, workshops, and information sessions to help implement EdTech programmes.

A need assessment is very important to understand which part of the countries already have space in EdTech implementation and which is still struggling. This is necessary for a viable and beneficiary policy-specific intervention.

Removal of taxes from devices like laptops, desktop computers, and mobile phones for EdTech to succeed due to affordability considerations is recognized as a viable option for improving EdTech in sub-Saharan Africa.

The government should partner with telecom providers to provide free data bundles for learners to access learning content online.

Introduce ICT lessons to the curriculum to support distance learning. Strengthening the efforts to reform policy and regulatory frameworks to make broadband access more affordable, accessible, and universal needs to be accompanied by skills development, to exploit technological advancements fully.

Factsheet On EdTech in Education Emergency:
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS IN POST COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Awareness creation for teachers and parents
Capacity building for teachers on modern digital technologies.

Huge investment in internet connectivity at schools.

Provision of alternative forms of energy for e-learning Collaboration and partnerships are essential for EdTech to be viable Basic mobile channels and mass media will help scale solutions.

Improve the community network efforts to help address the digital divide.

A need for deliberate policies to incorporate EdTech in the national education curriculum.

Issue Brief EdTEch and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Sub-Saharan African Countries The Nigeria Case Study:

Create policies to ensure connectivity, including internet access, in all schools.

Invest in Wi-Fi-capable devices for student and teacher use, while preloading these devices with learning materials that cover the curriculum for an entire year in rural settings.

Train and retrain teachers in further professional development, including using modern digital tools” (UNESCO, 2021).
Sufficient awareness campaigns for both teachers and parents.

For EdTech to work, significant investment in alternative sources of energy such as solar energy is needed to address the lack of electricity in most schools in both the rural and the urban areas.

Tax relief on EdTech gadgets such as laptops, projectors, desktop computers, and mobile phones will promote affordability.

Cybersecurity policies need to be enhanced to prevent cyberbullying.

Publishers should be mandated to provide digital versions of textbooks as paper-based versions.

Governments should continuously monitor and evaluate their EdTech interventions to assess the reach and measure the impact of these interventions.

We recommended a post covid-19 pandemic EdTech study to understand what has changed in terms of progress and development in the use of EdTech by both the private and the public sectors. This study will also identify the efforts of the private sector after the pandemic.
Adequate public and private investment in EdTech.

Government should monitor activities of the private EdTech providers to ensure that their educational content is in line with the Nigeria educational standards.

As I conclude, I would to like once again, appreciate the Global Campaign for Education for their support towards the success of this projects and their contributions to the global education agenda. We will be working with Champions in the six geo-political zones to engage Government, Private Organisation and Civil Society organisation to push for the implementation of the recommendations.

We have also translated the policy document to local language (Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) in a bid to leave no one behind We at the Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative look forward to more future partnerships with the GCE.

On this note, I have the honour to unveil the Issue Brief, Fact Sheet and Research document. So let us work together to make education technology a reality for all students. Let us embrace the future of education and use it to create a brighter, more equitable world for all.

Thank you all for listening and God bless.

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