The Future of School and Education in Africa and the Role we are PlayingWith the global COVID-19 pandemic causing unprecedented challenges and disruption, no one can say for sure how long the crisis will last, or what we will find on the other side. We do know that the education community won’t be returning to the “old” normal. The future of school may be dearly uncertain but what is certain is that the future of school can no longer be caged by the four walls of classrooms. The big question is if Africa is ready for the all-important new normal. From the technology revolution to teachers’ training and students’ adaptability, a lot seems to be missing. As an organization, what role can we play? As a host organization for World’s Largest Lesson in Nigeria, we have designed and currently implementing some intervention initiatives. We know that teachers remain crucial if anything will go well but teachers who cannot fit into the “new normal” may be out of a job or seizes to make an impact. This is why we created the Teachers Upgrade Online Training. This Teachers Upgrade Online Training is built to support teachers’ ability to scale up their skills and expertise while advancing their career opportunities in the post covid19 era. With over 900 participating teachers, the 5 weeks virtual training has revealed, sadly, terrific technology skill gaps in Nigeria’s teaching workforce with just about 5% of the entire participating teachers having elementary tech knowledge to aid teaching activities. The objectives of the training as designed include; To address the huge technological deficit currently on display within the teaching workforce and bring them up to date with the global teaching standard. To help teachers to transition smoothly to the use of digital skills and other innovative skills which have proven effective in addressing education deficit in such a time like this. To help teachers in acquiring skills that are needed in raising younger generations who are better positioned in using education to solve social problems. Our intervention can be said to be timely and pragmatic in nature. Our tailored training will introduce and build the teachers’ capacities around,
1. Teaching and technology: The link between technology and learning. Introduction to digital/virtual teaching delivery, Digital classroom setup, and management.
2. 21st Century Skills for impactful learning: developing well-rounded teachers that are relevant for the future of work in the Education sector.
3. Employability Skills: Teaching career readiness and inculcating these skills at an early stage of learning.
4. Community- Based Learning: Connecting students’ immediate environment with classroom learning for improved knowledge.
5. Digital Club setup and management/Club learning ideas challenge.
Teachers with the best learning performance will win laptops and other teaching aids as part of our contribution to building their capacities to align with global realities and trends. Key outcomes expected to be sustained from the training include; An improved standard in education and learning in schools decline in the deficit in technology use in education and learning in Nigeria. Huge investment in digital skills training across the nation for teachers increase in the use of digital learning tools in teaching and learning in classroom education.
Breaking the Culture!!!!
It’s been an overwhelming month with the prevalent cases of rape and the gruesome murder of some of the victims. There have been protests both online and offline as people lend out their voices to condemn the increased number of rape of young girls and children which has become a societal norm. Many gender activists have called on the government to prescribe capital punishments for rapists and to speed up the court processes for cases that are ongoing as this will show commitment by the government to punish perpetrators’. Our organization DEAN Initiative carried out a 2 weeks online campaign using dedicated hashtags to speak against this heinous crime which is gradually becoming the new norm in our society. We also engaged our volunteers to take action in speaking against this act in their community and on their social media handles. We were emphatic that this new trend won’t be accommodated in our society and as an organization, we are committed to collaborating with other civil society organizations to do all we can to ensure that women, girls, and children feel safe in our communities.
So we encourage you to take a stand with us as we #StandAgainstRape and all other forms of violence.#EndRape
Teachers Urged to inculcate virtual, digital learning skills
With the coronavirus Pandemic ravaging the world and its negative impact its having in the world, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, recently revealed that over 35 million children are not in school, specifically children in public schools at the primary and secondary level.
In a communique issued by DEAN Initiative recently addressed the negative impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on both teachers and students in Nigeria.
The virtual town hall meeting which had in attendance, Mr. Semiye Michael, Country Director World Largest Lesson and Executive Director DEAN Initiative, Mr. Gideon Olanrewaju, Executive Director, Aid for Rural education Access Initiative (AREAi), Ms. Joy Oballum Technical Consultant, World Bank Group, Mr. Busayo Morakinyo Community Engagement Manager Connected Development(CODE), Ms. Kemi Ogunsanya, Literacy Educator/ Learning and Development Professional.
They commended the interventions already initiated by the Federal ministry of Education in addressing the impact on education and learning through the Federal Ministry of Education Covid-19 Response.
However it was observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed weaknesses in the educational system, which include: poor funding, lack of infrastructure and investment in technology, need for improved retraining and training for teachers to be relevant in modern learning and education.
The DEAN Initiative further beckoned on all teachers in the public and private sector to imbibe the habit of learning virtual and digital skills, as the world is becoming a computer village daily.
Mr. Semiye Michael said, “Teachers need proper training to transition properly to virtual learning they need to be equipped with digital Learning skills, teachers need to be effectively trained on the use of digital and information skills to navigate the learning process.
“As we move towards recovery Post- COVID-19, there is need to embed core skills into our teaching and learning process. Skill based learning should be prioritize over Knowledge based learning to ensure that every Nigerian child is adequately positioned for the future.
“The issue of funding for education need to be taken serious, the Covid-19 has exposed the lack of the needed investment by government in education development. With funding for education, it should be accompanied with tracking to ensure the funds are directed to the intended need.
“Government at all level should prioritize investment in education because no nation outshines the level of its financial investment in Educational development. Above all, the need to ensure that teachers who are saddled with the key responsibilities of education and learning should be properly positioned for 21st century learning”.
Nigeria, no doubt, did not do well enough in its implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But, this time, there appears to be a determination to do things differently in the implementation of the SDGs, with the sole intention of making an appreciable impact in citizens’ lives when the programme comes to a close by 2030.
The Special Assistant to the President on SDGs (SSAP-SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire alluded to this change in tactics when she noted that the nation made no significant progress in its implementation of the MDGs, because it was government-driven, lacked the people’s ownership and commitment and was made to work in silos.
Orelope-Adefulire said the country now recognises the need to succeed with the SDGs, the successor programme to MDGs, and has resolved to do all within its powers to ensure that it successfully delivers on the programme’s targets.
Orelope-Adefulire spoke in Abuja during the second phase activation of SDGs with the theme “SDGs Activation Lessons for Families, Communities and Religious Leaders,” in the country. She said this phase is directed at stimulating individual and collective ownership of the SDGs, by bringing the SDGs to families, communities and religious organisations through the SDGs lessons and action plan to be delivered by teachers, peers, civil society activists and youth volunteers, across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In a chat with the gathering which comprises youths and adults, including traditional and religious leaders, that the second phase activation is meant to enable families, communities and religious leaders/organisations to understand the roles they could play in the achievement of the global goals, by stressing the importance of the SDGs and the need for mass participation in the race for Agenda 2030
Orelope-Adefulire, a former Deputy Governor in Lagos State, explained that the decision to target the family, among other social groups, was because “the family is the central social unit of all progressive societies and the achievement of the SDGs depends on how well families are engaged and empowered to contribute to the achievement of these goals.
“Similarly, local communities are at the core of the action, as progress would depend on the positive action taken at the local level, because the concept of the SDGs is about the people, it is about societal peace, about prosperity, it is about partnership and about knowledge.
“This understanding will aid our commitment to the actualisation of the SDGs in our various societies. But, if we refuse to participate and show lack of concern, we risk the misfortune of regressing as a people, while others are progressing.
“As much as the SDGs are about all of us, about the need to create a world that is sustainable, that is resilient and guarantees our future, we must all be part of the development efforts.
“That is why we are appealing to all to participate in this exercise. We intend, at every stage, to have more people key into this SDGs advocacy programmes so that we will be able to bring about the change we all desire.
“The idea behind this exercise is to make you part of the decision making process by drawing government’s attention to your areas of need. This is because, if you don’t tell us what you need, you will not get what you want, because your leaders need you to remind them of what your needs are,” she said.
Orelope-Adefulire took participants through all the 17 goals enshrined in the SDGs and how their achievement could help create a sustainable environment and make living worthwhile for all.
She stressed the need for more women involvement, in view of their capacity to influence changes in their families and communities.
The SSAP-SDGs, who spoke about the need to emphasise girl-child education as an empowerment strategy to enhance women’s involvement in development activities, recalled how she almost missed out on the opportunity to be educated, owing to her father’s belief that the male child deserved the better attention.
She, however, did not blame her father for the decision to discriminate in affording his children access to education. Adefulire-Orelope attributed the lapse to his ignorance of the girl-child’s capacity and capabilities.
“When I was young, my father’s belief was that once I was married, his name will be replaced by my husband’s surname. And therefore I did not need any education.
“But, my mother took up the challenge and sponsored by education up to the university level.
“A lot of things have happened to people who do not have the needed opportunities. I am saying this so that our fathers and our parents could change their mindset about the girl child. There is nothing that the men can do and the women cannot do,” she said.
The SSAP-SDGs stressed that the task of achieving the 2030 Agenda “is enormous and the government alone cannot do it. Therefore, there is the need for an inclusive and participatory approach at national and sub-national levels to ensure strong stakeholder engagement in the implementation of the SDGs. I invite you all to join us as we pledge to ‘leave no one behind’ by working together to reach the furthest behind.”
The Executive Director, DEAN Initiative, Michael Semiye added that the second phase of SDGs activation exercise is to bring everyone on board and to make the citizens participants in the task of building a developed and conducive country that everyone desires.
Semiye said: “The activation exercise is an initiative to mobilise action across board for development in Nigeria. When we see our colleagues around the world, the sacrifices everybody makes every day to realise the type of country they want, we are impressed. But, when we come home, what we do is only to complain, unmindful of the fact that there is nowhere in the world where complaints solve problems.
“It is the people that solve problems. The SDGs have provided a platform for us to push for the development of our country. Nigeria, being a signatory to the SDGs, it is incumbent on us to enforce the spirit of the SGDs as contained in the 17 goals that have been crafted.
“It is a fact that no government in the world has been able to solely solve the problems of the citizens, which informed the emphasis on enhanced collaboration between the government and the citizens.
“This activation is our own way of inviting citizens across the nation to be participants in ensuring the actualisation of the global goals in the country. Please, we encourage all to go out and conscientise the people on the opportunities that the SGDs presents and the roles expected of them.”
Before the family activation
The second phase of SDGs activation was preceded by the first phase activation in October last year, which was directed at sensitising and educating the children and youths from ages eight to 18 to enable them to understand the SGDs programme and support the aspirations behind it.
The Office of the SSAP-SDGs explained that the first activation was equally directed at assisting the youth in taking localised actions for the ambitions of the SDGs through the deployment of creative contents designed by the global group, the World Largest Lesson (WLL), whose implementing partner in the country is DEAN Initiative.
Orelope-Adefulire, who spoke about the success of the first activation, said her office was currently working on strong collaborative partnerships by connecting and coordinating across institutions, as well as engaging with parliaments, sub-national and local communities in unprecedented ways, “which reflects the ‘whole of society’ and ‘whole of government’ approaches.”
Foundational measures before first activation and beyond
The SSAP-SDGs noted that the Federal Government, in demonstration of its commitment to the SDGs, put in place foundational measures which included taking into account national and sub- national development priorities, including impactful and well-designed family-focused policies.
These measures, she added, “are in place to give a voice to our people, particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable. Additionally, my office, whose mandate includes horizontal and vertical inter-governmental coordination; multi-stakeholder partnerships; resource mobilisation; advocacy and strategic communications for the SDGs in Nigeria, has established multilateral structures and institutions to accelerate the SDGs.
“We have continued to engage with states through the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), to ensure that the SDGs do not remain a federal initiative alone, by strengthening inter-governmental collaborations in order to channel resources to projects and programmes that have significant impact on the poor and vulnerable people at the local level.
“It is pertinent to state that my office has continued to intervene in the provision of health, education, water and sanitation infrastructure as well as economic empowerment programmes across the 36 states and the FCT to fast-track the implementation of the SDGs,” Orelope-Adefulire said.
The SDGs came into being after the expiration of the MDGs in 2015. The United Nations, working with Heads of States and Governments of its 193-member nations, including Nigeria, developed the SDGs as a new development agenda, also known as Agenda 2030.
It is framed into 17 goals, 169 targets, and 230 indicators, all aimed at developing the world and ending poverty in all its ramifications. It also aims at safeguarding the planet and ensuring that all the people of the world enjoy peace and prosperity.
To empower the voices of the people with valid information and engagement tools.
The envision a world where citizens' voices will not only be heard but form an integral part of governance.