Nigeria’s education sector is being faced by many challenges that have contributed to keeping more than 10.5 million children out of school in Africa’s most populous nation.
One of these challenges is access to quality learning, exacerbated in recent times by attacks on learning institutions and abduction of students which has made parents fearful of sending their children to school.
The disruption to education by school attacks has meant millions of children have significantly missed out on learning they would have acquired if they had been in the classroom.
To address these issues, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently launched the Nigerian version of Microsoft’s Learning Passport which is globally used to provide on the internet standardised content and instruction for children, students as well as teachers at all levels of learning.
The tech innovative idea is meant to enable children across the country to access learning resources and high-quality courses regardless of whether they are in school or not.
The Learning Passport is an online, mobile, and soon-to-be offline platform that would allow continuous access to quality education, aimed to reach 3 million learners in 2022 and 12 million learners in the country by 2025.
The educational technology solution comes amidst the country’s recovery from COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the learning of many students around the globe, including millions of children in Nigeria and experts said it may be the solution to the learning crisis in Nigeria.
The launch of the Learning Passport together with UNICEF and Microsoft, and with financing from Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is an important achievement for children and teachers in Nigeria, according to experts.
At the launch, Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director, in a goodwill message said, “Before COVID-19, about 10.5 million Nigerian children aged between 5 and 14 were not in school. Today in Nigeria, more than 9.7 million children are at risk of never returning to school, their learning left behind. The Learning Passport can help change that.
“By offering simple, easy, and fun ways to learn, as well as tailor-made training programmes, the Learning Passport will help respond to the needs of every child. With online, offline, and mobile options, it can help us reach the most vulnerable and marginalized learners,” Russell added.
A graduate of software engineering from AfriHUB University, Abuja, Bernard Bassey said the Nigeria Learning Passport will solve so many problems by the time it is fully adopted in our public and private schools.
He said the degree of readiness of the Nigeria Learning Passport and the speed of its accessibility is amazing. “By yesterday, just a day after, a volunteer teacher was captured using it for his students at far away Government Day Secondary School, Gololo. Just a few paragraphs down from here, you the reader will also be there—with just a click.
“The Nigeria Learning Passport provides the literature and videos our students and teachers need on every topic in their syllabus. It mitigates the problems of lack or high cost of books, insufficient teachers, teacher absence, unqualified teachers, distance issues in remote areas, security challenges for nomadic and crisis-ridden areas which teachers cannot reach or whose schools cannot open.”
Speaking on its flexibility,he said the most interesting is the timeless access that our children can have to some of the best teachers both globally and nationally.
“This will tackle the problem of poor quality instruction that characterizes our education system. If a teacher cannot provide his students with himself, he can arrange for someone better than to do it. That “digital teacher”, with just a click on the keyboard, can also willingly sit in for the teacher when he is absent.
“The child can switch on his kindle, tablet, computer or handset to watch this alternate teacher conduct lessons on any topic the child chooses and “play him” time without number until he fully understands the topic. The child can do this even as he rears his cattle in the forest or attends to customers in his apprentice shop in the heart of the city. Not to mention remote public schools with only a few teachers,” he added.
However, he said the challenge would be to provide infrastructure that will provide continuous availability of the online material, devices to the electronic media that children and students will use to access the content, the power and data required to operate them, the teacher capacity needed to guide children in its use, the motivation to use the facility in the blended environment by teachers and parents, the sharp attention and time of the African child who is given to absent-mindedness, noise, play, football, films, social media, etc.
The only official website to access the Nigeria Learning passport