by Winifred E. Adeosun

Policy & Governance Area: Energy & Technology; Economic Growth & Human Development

At the just concluded Prof. Ayodele Awojobi Design Competition, which held at the University of Lagos, a business solutions company, Verraki Partners highlighted some solutions that could bridge the knowledge gap and expedite mass affordable, accessible and quality education for most Nigerians. The Senior Partner and Head of the Company, Kelvin Balogun stated that the country’s educational problem could be tackled by applying new thinking, leveraging technology such as the mobile phone and broadband Internet. According to him, students can access online lectures, compressed for mobile phones with exercise, theory, games, peer-to-peer support, ranking competitions, tests, self-assessment, online resources and incentives for those that complete their classes.

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The internet is one of the greatest creations of man, it affords everyone in the world with access to the web instant access to an endless supply of knowledge, information and entertainment[ii]. Just like the invention of electricity, access to an online network has made many lives and businesses easier than it would have, as the information, product, service or entertainment one may be in need of is just a click away. The web, as a whole, can be seen as technology that has greatly enhanced our lives[iii].

Consequently, it may not be surprising why Verraki Partners, a business solutions company has highlighted the use of broadband internet as one of the solutions to the country’s educational sector problems.  According to the Senior Partner and Head of the Company, Kelvin Balogun, some of the country’s educational problem could be solved by applying new thinking, leveraging technology such as the mobile phone and broadband Internet. Generally, it is reasonable to suggest the use of an online network as a solution to educational problems, since with the network, one can stay in the comfort of his home or office and study to acquire a certificate. Simply put: with the net people who cannot make out time to go to school can study online.

However, the Solutions Company may not have averted their minds to certain constraints in Nigeria. There is need to know: how affordable data is, to the common man in Nigeria; how reliable internet service providers are; the attitude of lecturers towards online lectures and, perhaps most importantly, how reliable electricity in Nigeria is, to aid charging of the web device(s)? Affordable wireless and mobile Internet remains one of the most significant challenges Nigerians face in accessing the Internet. Nigerians living on N18, 000 minimum wage find it hard to feed; thus, one gigabyte mobile broadband plan could be a major challenge to them[iv].

In developed countries, online education is available and reliable but this is may be due to the fact that the internet itself, is readily available and reliable. Also, the educational sector in developed countries has advanced to the extent that certain lectures can hold online. In Nigeria, lectures and classes are held physically and not virtually, most times: implementing online lectures will however be a relief for students who perhaps cannot afford accommodation in their schools, or students who would like to work and school at the same time etc. However, if we are looking into bettering the educational system, there is need to consider the common man. What would be the fate of the common man that cannot afford data to take lectures or download materials from the web?

Be that as it may, it would be advantageous for the academia or stakeholders in the Nigerian educational sector to consider exploring the many advantages that the internet can offer. Universities should consider having online libraries, where students can register and have access to unlimited study resource material. This means that the varsities could also set up Wi-Fi’s, to save students the stress and cost of purchasing data. This might seem aspiratory or wishful, however it just may be one of the revolutions Daniel Etunga referred to when he stated that “We need to undertake peaceful cultural revolutions in four sectors: education, politics, economics, and social life”[v].

 

[i] This article was taken from the Punch Newspaper (online). Available at: https://punchng.com/internet-connectivity-can-speed-up-education-in-nigeria/ . Date accessed: 06/08/19.

[ii] What are the advantages of the Internet, 02/08/19. Computer Hope (online). Available at: https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001808.htm . Date accessed: 06/08/19.

[iii] The advantages and disadvantages of internet, 18/02/15. Zone Alarm (online). Zone Alarm (online). Available at: https://blog.zonealarm.com/2015/02/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-the-internet/ . Date accessed: 06/08/19.

[iv] Concerns over high cost of Internet connection, 04/11/18. The Punch Newspaper (online). Available at: https://punchng.com/concerns-over-high-cost-of-internet-connection/ . Date accessed: 06/08/19.

[v] Daniel E. M (Does Africa need a Cultural Adjustment Programme? Pg. 76