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Teachers need digital skills for the future, experts say

By Iyabo Lawal
11 November 2021   |   2:39 am
Experts have called on teachers to equip themselves with the right digital skills to enable them prepare learners for the future of work.

digital skills. Photo: ENTERPRENEUR

Experts have called on teachers to equip themselves with the right digital skills to enable them prepare learners for the future of work.

This was the highlight from the monthly edition of Ed-Tech Mondays, an initiative of the Mastercard Foundation in partnership with ccHub Limited.

The October edition of the programme featured experts in education and technology as panelists. These include a Microsoft certified educator and secondary school teacher, Victoria Abiola; another professional teacher and CISCO certified network administrator, Philip Ewuoso and Founder, Schoolinka, Oluwaseun Kayode. The virtual session was moderated by a social engineering practitioner, Joyce Daniel.

Leading the discussion with the theme: “Enabling teachers to lead and innovate,” Kayode, said teachers must begin to see digital skills as an enabler that would assist them in meeting the demands of the 21st century learners as well as improving the quality of teaching in Nigeria.

Kayode, who led the team that leverages technology to create an ecosystem of highly skilled teachers for schools in Africa, noted that lack of access to professional development and absence of incentives for training remain major stumbling blocks to the quality of teaching and outputs in today’s competitive world.

He said: “There are teachers who do not have access to training programmes, while some have access but lack the right incentives. If you ask some teachers why they don’t get trained, the response you get is that how has it affected salary review or promotion? So, I would say there is no career structure to professional development in Nigeria.”

He stated that part of the solutions needed to increase access for teachers on personal development lie with Ed-Tech companies leveraging economies of scale and reducing cost of access. 

“Ed-Tech companies must strive or find ways to break barriers of access and affordability for teachers to be attracted to personal development. They must go the extra mile to provide incentives for teachers to access professional development, either by offering job opportunities for those who passed through them, or making them available to those who value quality teachers,”‘ Kayode said.

He stated further that those stakeholders must begin to work together to bring about systemic change in the teaching profession by ensuring that both recruitment process and the training for teachers are revamped.
 
Also speaking, Abiola said 21st century teachers must be intentional and conscious about their personal development, adding that leveraging the use of technology would not only make learning enriching to students but also aid the teaching process.

“Teachers have to be intentional about learning regardless of the many opportunities available. You cannot give what you do not have. Before you can inculcate the digital knowledge in your students, you must be versed in digital skills. As a teacher, you must continue to equip yourself through professional learning digital courses. These skills are needed in lessons and delivery,” Abiola said.

She urged concerned stakeholders to play their part by organising as many training opportunities as possible for teachers, reducing the cost of internet connectivity such that, in time, teachers are able to support learners for the future of work.

“Training should be organised and it must be made flexible for them to participate. Apart from that, Ed-Tech communities should be created for teachers to join so that they can brainstorm and share their knowledge and challenges faced in the implementation of those digital skills”, she said.

On his part, Ewuoso, the CISCO certified network administrator and public-school teacher, said despite the fact that students population to teacher’s ratio in public schools was quite overwhelming, the advent of digital technology has changed the game as more students are now being reached even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Take for instance, I have a blog where I keep my notes, upload my teaching materials for students to access before coming to class. This means that I have more time to engage the class regardless of the population, take them through the notes, discuss with them and get feedback,” Ewuoso added.

He explained that the cost of Internet connectivity and technical know-how on the part of teachers constitute great barriers to delivering teacher training in Nigeria.