MASTERCARD Foundation has partnered with two nonprofits – Data Science Nigeria and Malezi – that have set out to teach at least one million Nigerian students at home using the ‘Learn at Home’ project.
The project, according to the organisers, is a free educational platform dedicated to providing free, global standard education through media and technology for millions of Nigerian schoolchildren in primary one to Senior Secondary School 3 classes.
One of the partnering organisations, Malezi, noted that the ‘Learn at Home’ project which combines audio, visual and textual learning was initiated to mitigate the impact of the prolonged shutdown of schools occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and to increase the potential of millions of schoolchildren in hard-to-reach communities.
Speaking at the virtual launch of the initiative, the founder of Data Science Nigeria, Olubayo Adekanmbi, said the project brings together the best teachers that have been certified by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to help develop and build digital skills, adding that contents have been based on National Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) curricula to create a learning that speaks to the understanding of the students.
Adekanmbi said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic when students didn’t go to school, we saw two categories of students – those who learnt and who didn’t. Some states around mid-September resumed and reduced the learning time to three hours. We considered this to bring this e-learning to these children.
“It is completely free as students can participate using the designated 15 stations that reach all of the 36 states of the federation. Every class has a quiz and students can participate for free using SMS and there is immediate evaluation of learning.
“We also have two minutes definitions of difficult concepts on our website in radio and video formats and there is a call centre that will attend to all of their issues and requests.”
He listed the radio stations to include Express Radio, Borno Radio, Aso Radio, Progress FM, Harvest FM Benue, Vision FM Kebbi, Alheri FM Kaduna, Raypower FM Port-Harcourt, Rhythm FM Jos, Fresh FM Ibadan, Adaba FM Akure, Speed FM Benin, Top Radio Lagos, EBBS Abakaliki and ABS Onitsha.
Also speaking at the event, the Country Head of Mastercard Foundation in Nigeria, Chidinma Lawanson, said the project helps the foundation to reach about 10 million people, including women.
Lawanson said: “We want to reach 10 million young Nigerians, 70 per cent of whom must be women. We have been dignified working across several sectors, particularly in Lagos, Kano and Abuja which have the highest level of youth unemployment and then some other states in Nigeria.
“We partnered with Data Science Nigeria and Malezi because their aims resonate with ours. This aligns with the foundation’s value and brings responses to educational challenges during this present COVID-19 pandemic.”
In his goodwill message, the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, said: “It is a good initiative in this pandemic that will assist children and parents. I assure you of the Katsina State government support as you move on with this initiative.”
The Commissioner for Commerce in Sokoto State, Mal Basiru Gidado, who represented Governor Aminu Tambuwal, said, “Your programme is a step in the right direction. We, as a government, will key into this. You will find in us a worthy partner and we will receive this project in Sokoto and Nigeria.”
Other dignitaries who attended the event include the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono; the deputy director, Bernard Ewah, who represented the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, and her Delta State counterpart, Patrick Ukah; chairman of Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Wahab Alawiye-King, chairman, National Union Teachers (NUT) Lagos branch, Adedoyin Adesina.