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Adopt local languages to drive digital education resources, stakeholders urge educators

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The need to integrate indigenous languages with digital education resources in line with 21st century expectations has prompted stakeholders in the education sector to initiate and seek public-private partnership to boost availability of these resources to students in Nigeria.

This was the focus of discussion at the August edition of Ed-tech Monday – an initiative of Mastercard Foundation in partnership with CcHub Limited. The virtual discussion was themed: “Access to digital resources.”

Speaking at the event, Mr. Gideon Olanrewaju, noted that lack of digital skills and access to digital resources are major challenges affecting digital learning in Nigeria.

While developed countries have gone ahead to adopt strategies such as flip classroom method, Olanrewaju noted that lack of access to digital resources has limited the adoption of strategies that enhance learning experience.

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He said: “The foundation of learning, which begins with comprehension skills, has been affected due to failure of educators at both private and public sectors to adopt languages best understood by students. If the children are unable to have such foundational skills, it would be very difficult for them to access or use the knowledge that is obtainable from digital resources.”

He enjoined government and educators to employ the use of indigenous languages in teaching students, while also canvassing investment in community-level infrastructural development to find lasting solutions to the problem of access to digital resources.

Digital Content and Innovation Manager, Airtel Networks Limited, Bankole Alao, said connectivity remains a huge barrier to the adoption of digital learning in Nigeria, particularly in this challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the solution to this challenge lies in the readiness of stakeholders to collaborate in creating the right content and bringing technological solutions, while also making digital devices affordable and available.

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“In tackling the problem of connectivity, we must adopt a strategy based on collaboration where all stakeholders agree on what the right content should be, while considering the connectivity and affordability of the devices. This means that, if we are looking at solving the problem, we can begin to look at the primary school level. Once we are done, we are then rest assured that those who are going to secondary school have the right foundation,” Alao stated.

Kayode Akinwale, a member of virtual learning teachers, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has further proven how effective and valuable technology can be in aiding digital learning, not only among pupils, but also parents.

Akinwale identified connectivity cost, poor power supply, limited understanding of digital resources by students, teachers and cost of digital devices as major barriers, which need to be overcome in the country to guarantee equitable access to digital resources for students.

“One key issue that needs to be tackled is the problem of affordability both for connectivity and devices, network providers can also provide free access to learning platforms just as it is done by Facebook”, Akinwale added.

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