The past few years have seen a dramatic rise in the use of digital learning tools in parts of Nigeria, as Internet connectivity and access to hardware improves. A recent report from independent consultants, Michael Fullan and Katelyn Donnelly, stated that Africa was the most dynamic eLearning market on the planet, as many governments on the continent begin to implement policies that integrate technology into national education systems.In Nigeria, an increasing number of schools and universities are turning to digital offerings including learning management systems, content and tutorial systems, to help reverse some of the country’s most urgent education problems.
Indeed, Nigeria faces deep-set challenges when it comes to achieving education levels that meet international standards, with UNESCO estimating 10 million children are currently out of school, and a significant percentage of those enrolled in school are failing to learn. Teacher shortages are rife and in many parts of the country, inadequate infrastructure prevents quality learning from taking place.
While there is real potential for digital technology to transform Nigeria’s education system, technology alone cannot be a panacea for the country’s entrenched education problems, and if used in the wrong way, can propagate existing problems. We have seen in many instances, in many parts of the world, that technology can be a game-changer when it comes to improving educational outcomes at an individual and national level.
However, in order to achieve improved learning experiences, the technologies employed must have designated capabilities and meet rigorous standards – technology in itself will do nothing to change education in Nigeria for the better, unless it is applied in a way that is effective.
Technology can offer solutions to many of the education challenges faced by Nigeria – technology improves access and can engage learners in more dynamic and interactive learning and provide them with the 21st Century skills they need for future employment success.
Importantly, where books are expensive and scarce, technology can mean more learners have more access to quality and up-to-date learning tools, through the widespread availability of free online resources. Education institutions to choose carefully when implementing learning technology in classrooms.
The problem is how do we choose the right technologies to implement when there are so many available in the market – and these choices are increasing rapidly? A recent report, “Alive in the Swamp: Assessing Digital Innovations in Education”, published by Pearson provides some guidance. The authors of the report, found that we should be seeking digital innovations that produce at least twice the learning outcomes for half the cost of our current tools.
To achieve this, three forces need to come together: technology, pedagogy and change management or securing transformation across an entire school system. In other words, a new technology should not be invested in unless it can be said to be effective in improving learning outcomes. If decision makers tasked with choosing digital innovations make this their primary consideration, then we have a much greater chance of having technology that make a powerful difference in Nigeria’s education system.
By Muhtar Bakare
Bakare is managing director of Pearson Nigeria.