Every year, reports of poor examination results make many lament poor standards of education in Nigeria. Year in, year out, there are several panels, meetings and interventions to solve this challenge. Syllabuses have changed. Yet, many things remain the same.
Moses Imayi, Project Director, Skool Media believes that this has a lot to do with the way learning takes place.
Learning in most parts of Nigeria, especially government-owned schools, remains traditional. Lesson notes passed down from one generation to the other. Without consideration for the changing times. Students learn things that are no longer relevant to their situations today. Many times under dire conditions, some in barely roofed classrooms. It is in the midst of these overwhelming challenges that Moses Imayi proposes technology as a way out.
“We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results.” He says that adopting technology in education is one way to not only make learning more engaging but collaborative. This is what his organisation, Skool Media, has been doing for the past three years.
Skool Media changes the way teaching is done by working hand in hand with teachers to incorporate technology into teaching methods. Teachers are taught by Skool Media’s on-ground ICT instructors in their operational schools to turn their class notes into soft copies. They are then taught to use projectors and projector screens to teach students. This complements the traditional board. Class notes are available on a laptop in each class, accessible to both teachers and students. This educational content includes videos and illustrations—making teaching less boring.
Hilary Ebinum Ikuni is an ICT instructor at Queens’ College, one of their operational schools. He says that his work which involves constant ICT trainings for teachers not only changes instruction styles but builds their capacity in a world that is constantly changing.
“You find teachers who were never interested in ICT, now their faces glow when they speak about their new discoveries and how it is helping their work,” he says.
Skool Media changes the way learning is done by equipping students with Personal Educational Tablets (PET). These tablets which are solely for educational purposes are pre-installed with class notes, so students can read ahead of class; educational videos which make learning memorable; past questions so that students can practice for their examinations. In a world where even the JAMB examinations are solely computer-based, such interventions not only help students prepare for their exams but removes the fear of technology, Ikuni says.
Onyewadume Jacinta, an SS3 Student of Queens’ College says that the tablet is really helpful to her because it comes with an audio bible which helps her to prepare for her Christian Religious Knowledge exam.
“It is easier to memorise important bible passages. And I can easily spot the differences between the synoptic gospels in preparation for my exam,” she says.
Like many innovative projects, Skool Media encountered many challenges. Leading among them is the high cost of technology. The projectors, projector screens and tablets cost millions of Naira. Hence, there had to be a feasible payment arrangement between schools, Parent Teacher Associations and Skool Media. Students in operational schools pay N5,000 as part of school fees and the tablets cost N50, 000. Asides the usual challenges of power and capital that most startups in Nigeria face, the bigger challenge was changing mindsets, Imayi says.
“Many teachers were used to the traditional way of doing things. It took several intervention meetings and trainings to change this.” Imayi says that today, after thousands of trainings across several secondary schools in Nigeria, their earlier opponents are now their cheerleaders.
What changed? “They began to see that we were helping them to be part of a global revolution. If you do not change, the tide of change will catch up with you and sweep you away,” he says.
Despite the challenges, Skool Media’s work is getting recognised. In 2015, a former Permanent Secretary of Education visited Queens’ College and saw the colourful classrooms fitted with projectors beside boards; students wielding tablets alongside their notebooks, the Skool Media team was invited for a meeting. In December, 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Skool Media and the Federal Ministry of Education. In that same month, it organised an introductory workshop for principals and Computer Science Instructors across Unity Schools. In March 2016, the responsibility grew bigger—a partnership to digitise 104 Unity Schools across Nigeria.
Imayi says that his team is taking the challenge in its stride, carrying the gospel of technology in education to these schools. In May, 2016, it was awarded a prize for Innovation in Education by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Imayi is not resting on his oars. More than improving the education standards, his eyes are on how technology in education can solve bigger social problems in Nigeria.
“Technology can be used to take children out of streets into classrooms. How can we give the young cattle herders an education despite their itinerary lifestyles? How can street kids and children at the IDPs get quality education?” Imayi says that it is important to begin to make use of technology to take education to children who would otherwise not be within the four walls of a classroom. Maybe through this, more children will be taken off the streets, and Nigeria’s future can be better secured.
Skool Media is still far from this dream, however, Imayi has bigger dreams.
“We want to be at the forefront when the story of education in Nigeria is written.” He says.