Olowoye: Quality education, the recipe for online learning for Africa’s transformation

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Dr. Gbenga Olowoye is the President of iklass.africa, an online learning startup for children and young students in Africa. He founded Swissplat Group LLC in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021 to meet unique demands for global sourcing, market expansion services and foreign investments. Given the challenges posed by COVID-19 to global business transactions, Swissplat has become a trusted business partner for companies looking to expand their businesses globally. Olowoye previously taught entrepreneurship and business strategy courses at UBIS University Geneva and its satellite campuses, and also managed the university’s Africa business development portfolio from 2014 to 2016. He is a published author on entrepreneurial innovation and funding sources in areas related to resource-constrained environments. . In this interview with Obinna Chima, in Geneva, Switzerland, he spoke about how to transform education in Africa. Excerpts:

What is your view on the state of education in Africa? Can you also tell us about your iklass.Africa initiative?

A popular quote inscribed on the main gate of a leading university in sub-Saharan Africa sums it up well. It reads: “Destroying a nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles… It only requires reducing the quality of education… The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation. » My goal is to allow children and young students in Africa to access quality education through E-learning, it is also about the future of nations.

I have studied lessons and best practices in capacity development for learning initiatives and how resources can impact service quality in education delivery in African contexts in my master’s and doctoral theses and dissertations, which provided useful background information to develop the e-learning project.

This insight helped me develop a successful approach for the iklass.Africa initiative. With a persistent teacher shortage in many African countries, where there is one certified teacher for every 43 students in secondary schools, online learning remains a feasible choice to aid learning. While a few companies are already taking the bull by the horns in providing this service, various initiatives are now needed to join the digital e-learning ecosystem across Africa following the disruptions to the education system caused by the COVID outbreak. -19. All African children need access to an education that will prepare them for profitable careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM fields. This is without a doubt the second best benefit.

As a professional from the Nigerian diaspora in Switzerland, this is a legacy project for me, demonstrating how the power of education can have a significant transformative effect on the next generation. My mother, the late Madam Esther Arinola Olowoye, was widowed at the age of 35, leaving her with six children to support. This happened in an African country (Nigeria) in 1971, with no social welfare system, where women and children were helpless (unfortunately, this is still the case in 2023), and it was like life of Esther and that of her six children. were condemned. I believe education is vital and liberating, and iklass.Africa will make it accessible to countless children in honor of Mama Arinola Olowoye.

So how do you think technology can improve learning outcomes on the continent?

Africa should be part of the business of every African who has benefited in one way or another from Africa. The beauty of modern times is that we can use technology to solve many of the problems facing Africans. I feel extremely lucky today thanks to Nigeria, where I received the best education possible in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, almost for free. I was even more privileged to have met my wife who has been working for the United Nations as a valued professional for about 20 years, while we were university students together in Nigeria and have been married for thirty years .

I am happy to have been able to raise the seed capital needed to launch iklass.Africa. Africa, like the rest of the world, must make technological progress for the benefit of its young children. What iklass.Africa does differently as a co-created, student-centered learning platform is harvest the collective wisdom of students, parents, partner schools, sponsors and other important stakeholders of education to develop one of the best innovative and affordable online programs. educational platforms that will benefit our children and young students throughout Africa and the world. It is also very inspiring to consider that all the young tech professionals and support staff who worked tirelessly to create the platform are African.

We know that Africa is booming, as we can all attest, but we must ensure that our young people are not treated as second-class citizens in their own countries simply because the Chinese, Europeans and Americans are investing billions across the continent. .

The team believes that increased access to high-quality online audiovisual content can improve educational outcomes for a growing number of children and young people. They will be excellent leaders if they learn well. I call on all people of goodwill to join forces with me and my team, especially parents, schools, government parastatals and key stakeholders, to ensure that the iklass.Africa platform takes the scale in Nigeria.

So, what role does iKlass play in furthering online learning and education in Africa?

I noted that there are barriers to education in resource-limited environments endemic in many developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, while consulting for schools in Tanzania between 2006 and 2014. The desire to establish an online learning platform for Tanzanian students was initially conceptualized in 2013, but despite our best efforts, we were unable to deliver it at the time due to internet bandwidth limited, which made the broadcast of audiovisual content difficult.

Things are different today, since better Internet access has been implemented in several African countries. The Ebola and Covid-19 pandemics provided the final motivation to form a new team of young Africans based in Nigeria and Tanzania who worked tirelessly to deliver the mobile learning application, iklass.africa, which is poised to join the digital ecosystem in Africa to expand access to education for children without any restrictions.

How affordable is your solution?

It must be emphasized once again that iklass.Africa will be one of the most accessible and cheapest learning platforms for children and young students in Africa, as an initiative in honor of its late mother, a unique African Amazon. To fulfill this commitment, iklass.Africa is currently inviting students to use the site for free during the ongoing launch phase. We have also recruited several experienced teachers from selected African countries to help us create the quality audio-visual content needed to make the learning platform a highly engaging online learning environment.

We can’t do it alone right now to pay all the webmasters, teachers, content editors, multimedia specialists and several support staff. This is why we need the help of partners and investors who want to make Africa a wonderful place for the future of our children.

Finally, your advice to the current administration in Nigeria on how to improve education?

The list is endless, but based on his previous study on educational service delivery in Nigeria, there are key high-level challenges that need to be addressed. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is expected to declare a state of emergency in the field of education in Nigeria. Next, all stakeholders must be brought into discussion about how the country might negotiate resource limits in a climate full of unpredictability. Risk assessment and SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) should show where there is a need to adjust the education policy and iterate on how to make the education system competitive, unify the objectives and institutional direction and clarify the brand message while producing an action plan to achieve the goals of student success and academic achievement in Nigeria.

A long-term solution to improve budgetary sufficiency and the perception of service quality will ultimately impact educator performance and service delivery. Second, federal and state departments of education, as well as other stakeholders in the education sector, must go back to the drawing board and explore new, cutting-edge experimental techniques to modify the delivery and delivery of educational services based on of the evolution of technological advances. This should provide an accountability framework for the system that influences policy directives and eliminates the prevalence of inconsistent financial policies, dishonesty within institutional management, reporting and stakeholder involvement.

Third, there is an urgent need for value co-creation in Nigeria’s education and school administration systems. This notion of “town and gown” could help restore the splendor of the public school system that many exceptional Nigerians in the diaspora have enjoyed. Citizens must be encouraged to actively participate in the education of their children.

In economics, buyers want the market with the most competition among sellers, which leads to the greatest availability of products and the lowest prices. We sometimes talk about increasing returns on the supply side and increasing returns on the demand side. Schools, on the other hand, help facilitate learning transactions between learners and educators. To develop new standards for teaching our children, it is becoming more and more vital to understand the expectations and values ​​of citizens. One of these requirements was identified as service quality. It is essential to assess whether network effects are effective, as indicated by satisfied teachers and students.

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