by Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji
The Nigerian secondary school education curriculum poorly aligns with the prevalent career aspirations, problem solving skills and ultimately, the prevalent needs of our current job market as it is compared side by side with the learning opportunities available for high school students and teens in other countries.
Students and teachers are out of touch with the growing realities of the role technology plays in providing access to education for underserved populations and our Education Sector faces various problems, ranging from the unavailability of well-trained teachers to the absence of adequate learning tools, facilities and infrastructure.
In comes Passnownow.com, a revolutionary Mobile Learning Platform that has digitized Nigeria’s High School Curriculum for the first time ever and made it available for Teachers, Parents and Students all over the Country.
It encompasses all subjects contained in the Nigerian Secondary School Syllabus/Scheme of Work from JSS1 to SS3 following the daily sequential order with which they are taught in School such that students can read ahead of Classes and in special circumstances where Teachers either do not attend Class, skip teaching certain subjects in the Syllabus or public schools are short-staffed and do not have a Teacher for a subject, the student misses nothing.
In addition, the E-Learning portal provides past questions and answers on University entry level Exams such as WAEC and JAMB, teaches Grammar Tips using new words, short sentences, antonyms, synonyms etc. and connects Parents and Lesson Teachers for extra home tutoring.
Majority of Nigerian public schools are replete with decayed infrastructure, dilapidated classroom blocks and outdated or even non-existent libraries and laboratories, which hinder the learning process.
The teachers, most of whom need to be re-taught as a matter of fact, tend to do their jobs grudgingly given that they are poorly remunerated and the government often delays these meagre salaries.
The lack of effective monitoring and evaluation systems to appraise the quality of subject content and delivery where tests and exams are used as baseline parameters of measuring students’ academic performance and an education system in which innovation is completely out of the picture reduces the competitive ability of children in Nigeria whose only possible access to education are Public Schools resultant of the widespread poverty in the land and the crippling practices of regulatory agencies.
It’s proven an arduous task getting accurate data relating to secondary school education in Nigeria but we do know (according to the American Embassy in Nigeria) that the total number of students in Nigeria is estimated at 30 million.
Of this number, 10.5 million are out of school, according to UNICEF and judging from the latest results released by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board [JAMB], the pass and failure rates are about 30 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.
The consistent mass failure of students (most of whom are of the Public-School fold) in external examinations (particularly entry exams into institutions of higher learning) is directly caused by poor preparation and this is a crucial problem that Innovation can solve over time.
Public schools in Nigeria are experiencing budget cuts that make them underfunded and the outright non-implementation of budgets make it impossible for educators to make any meaningful headway.
It therefore becomes impossible to maintain the educational infrastructure or hire suitably qualified teachers who would rather work in well-established, well equipped private schools that will pay them better as well as offer them Career growth opportunities.
The Nigerian Curriculum is one that lacks the long-term vision of providing students with the knowledge to solve common problems or eradicate poverty or diseases and this has compelled Private Schools that are mainly affordable for the children of the rich to ditch the Nigerian Curriculum for the British and American ones.
Passnownow.com recognises the importance of the community spirit that traditional school provides and does not attempt to replace teachers but rather seeks to support their efforts and compliment the classroom experiences of their students.
It is targeted at public schools many of whom are left at the mercy of demotivated and sometimes unqualified teachers, non-existent learning materials and little of no knowledge of innovation in the classrooms.
It is also immensely useful to underserved children who do not have access to schools but have any sort of mobile phone and Internet within their reach.
Its comprehensive preparatory services such as concise lesson notes and assessments/practice questions are prepared with far more insight and presented in a simplified format compatible with mobile and web making it easily accessible and affordable for Users.
These days, Passnownow.com currently has a ton of teachers subscribing to use its resources to prepare their own notes for their classes and worthy of note is that the Northern states of Nigeria have a high usage rate of Passnownow.com with Google analytics showing that Kaduna, Plateau, Kano, Kwara, Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Bauchi, Kebbi, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa are very engaged with the platform.
A mobile app is currently underway to enable access to Passnownow.com’s learning content work remotely without the use of data since the notes and exercises will be compressed into mini packets that will not depend on Internet.
The hopes of collaboration with necessary government agencies to re-evaluate the curriculum and make it fit for the optimal learning experience of Nigerian students, #DIGITEACH, a digital skills training programme covering research, subject content layout, presentation and delivery and basic computer appreciation skills designed for students and teachers in public schools and implemented in partnership with private sector stakeholders and #TEACHSTEM, an intensive STEM Focused Technology Education Program with a framework designed as a response to an informal needs assessment conducted for Teachers in Secondary Schools and Tertiary Institutions recently, to equip them with the tools, techniques and methodologies of teaching STEM subjects effectively in schools especially to students interested in science and tech at high school and those studying Math and engineering courses in polytechnics and universities form the current priorities of Passnownow.com.
Akerele-Ogunsiji, a social entrepreneur in youth education & development, is the founder of Passnownow.com. She tweets @toyosirise
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