A visit to the junior section of Federal Government Girls’ College Sagamu will show you how technology is changing education. Classrooms are painted in bright colours of orange, green and purple. Students are seated behind colourful desks and huddling tablets. The classroom board is divided into two, on one side hands a projector screen. Teachers teach with projectors, videos and illustrations; making learning more engaging.
FGGC Sagamu is one of the beneficiaries of the Technology in Education partnership between the Federal Ministry of Education and Skool Media. The partnership has one goal: to digitise 104 unity schools across Nigeria. This is an overhaul of education, the way many Nigerians know it. If things go as planned, chalk will give way to projector remote controls. Pen and paper will walk side by side educational tablets. Laptops will complement textbooks and lesson notes for teachers. No longer will the teacher be the beginning and end of knowledge, as it will now be collaborative—between teachers and students. This is already happening in FGGC Sagamu.
Skool Media, the organisation leading this change started in 2013. Project Director, Moses Imayi says that the project is about making education more exciting for students and teachers, in order to improve the quality of education. For Skool Media, this starts with what classrooms look like—that explains why the classes are painted in bright colours.
“We create a classroom environment that inspires students to learn; where teachers come in and they just want to interact with students.” Imayi says that each operational school has a common room. In the common room, students have access to laptops; are able to charge their tablets and secure them for safety at the end of each schooling day. These common rooms are manned by ICT instructors trained to troubleshoot any problems with the tablets and assist the schools in integrating technology into education.
Imayi says that this journey to digitising classrooms was tough initially because it is about changing mindsets. It is also capital intensive and a feasible payment plan had to be reached with school administrators, Parent Teacher Associations and parents. An agreement was reached—each student pays N5, 000 as part of their fees; those interested in the tablets buy them. Many teachers were used to the traditional teaching methods; it took several advocacy visits and trainings before they could be convinced on the benefits of technology in education. For students, there were the challenges of maximising the Personal Educational tablets for educational purposes.
The tablets are solely for educational purposes. They cannot be connected to the internet and everything needed—from videos, to illustrations, to past questions—are preloaded. Attempts to transfer “non-educational” content on them are stopped by an installed application. They are also secure—they come in pouches and are filed away in the common room for safety at the end of each academic day. They can also be passed on to siblings because the educational content applies to everyone—whether in Sciences, Commercial or Arts units.
More teachers across unity schools in Nigeria are becoming 21st century compliant, Imayi says.
“They understand that instead of sitting forming notes; with technology, they can just come into the classroom and teach using available content on the laptop.” Imayi says that feedback from the teachers also show that students are more interested in learning.
“Teachers now tell us ‘do you know that before students will always find an excuse to leave the classroom, either to use the restroom, or anywhere. Now, they want to stay in their classrooms to learn.” Imayi says.
Research shows that technology in classrooms makes learning more engaging.
Mrs. Agnes Owolabi, the Principal-Director of FGGC Sagamu, believes that the Skool Media project is just a way of keeping education up-to-date with the realities of the world.
“Everything is now ICT-driven. To be relevant today, everybody must be ICT-compliant. So, everyone has to grow with the technology.” She says that it is improving education and everyone is interested in the new development.
“The students look forward to anything that is electronic. So, this is exciting for them. Making them more interested in learning.” She continues.
Sofowora Ifeoluwa, a JSS1 student of FGGC Sagamu cradles her tablet in her hands, her face lit up with excitement. She says that her tab gives her access to a wealth of information and she no longer needs to bother her teachers so much for clarifications.
“For instance, Mathematics, which I love so much. I can easily take a look at videos and be able to solve difficult exercises,” she says, swiping to the video section of the tablet to show how it works.
It may be a long road towards digitising the entire education sector but with efforts of organisations like Skool Media, the future is not far away again. Through ICT trainings for teachers, they are breaking traditional beliefs about education. By deploying tablets to students, they are raising globally competitive students. Its work is also getting some recommendation; in May, 2016, it was awarded the Innovation in Education Prize by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Despite several challenges, one school, one teacher, one student at a time, Skool Media continues using technology to transform education in Nigeria.