18 Nov 2012

What's Next?

Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
 As I have noted I am currently completing my service year teaching in a public school. This experience has really opened my eyes to the many inadequacies of the educational system in Nigeria. One of the things I am finding disheartening is not at the secondary school level but at the tertiary level. A lot of students that finish secondary school never quite make into university because of many barriers.  I feel like a fraud sometimes when I tell my students that they just have to pas WAEC and JAMB to make it into university or polytechnic.

The truth is that the tertiary institutions we have in this country do not have enough space to handle the glut of students that are completing secondary school in this country. Admission is like a golden ticket that only a few and privileged get to have. These students left behind form a cadre of talented individuals who never quite the get the chance to develop skills that would allow them to fit into 21st century careers. Even among those that make it to university in Nigeria, there are many who are not able to get the quality of education needed for modern jobs.

Something finally made sense to me today! I had just started reading an article on theguardian.co.uk, when something clicked. What if we directed these students through e-education channels. Instead of insisting students go through brick and mortar institutions, how about we tap into open networks of courses? There are many firms that are now challenging the notion that university education should be done in physical buildings. The United Kingdom of course is groundbreaking with its internationally recognised Open University. There are open education resources like Udacity, Khan Academy, Coursera that are popping up to offer these online classes for free. Coursera for example offers classes directly from some of the best institutions in the world. The teachers in most of these free classes are passionate academics that are leading within their fields.

For third world countries like Nigeria where resources can be quite limited, these firms offer an opportunity for world-class education to a group of students that may otherwise not have a chance to be educated. Of course, there are barriers to entry into this free education for Nigerian students. First is that many students are not computer-literate. This is not a massive hurdle because many of these online courses don’t require you to be able to perform miracles on PC. Plus, their literacy would improve as they spend time completing their e-classes. The big hurdle though is the lack of access to computers and internet to complete coursework. Equipment is a massive infrastructural hurdle in Nigeria’s education system. However, if this hurdle can be addressed, it opens a path to knowledge for these students.

Although these classes don’t grant credits or degrees, obtaining knowledge even without formal certification can make a big difference.

[Editor's Note: We're of the opinion this is the future of education. Already world class universities are positioning themselves to teach the world online. E.g. EdX provides certificates for their classes and those classes are online versions of the same classes being taught on campus.  Visit the resources section of the wiki for links to e-learning resources]

by Sinmi
2012 9JEducation.org work-study

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