The internet and the future of education in Nigeria

by | Jul 7, 2016

“Education is a bubble in a classic sense. To call something a bubble, it must be overpriced and there must be an intense belief in it. Housing was a classic bubble, as were tech stocks in the ’90s because they were both overvalued, but there was an incredibly widespread belief that almost could not be questioned.”

– Peter Thiel

We’ve gotten to a point in human existence where schooling is becoming unjustifiably expensive. In many parts of the world, people are getting into massive debts just to earn degrees – degrees they may end up not using. Here in Nigeria, maybe debt accrued through schooling isn’t such a thing, but a large part of Nigerian schools’ curricula is outdated. What’s even worse, you go to university for 4 years, spend so much on tuition fees, only to graduate and find out that all you learned has become outdated.

In my second year in the university, I took a course titled ‘Newspaper and Magazine Production’. It was a mixture of theory and practicals. On one hand, the students had to learn the theoretical aspect of newspaper and magazine production. On the other, we were going to produce newspapers and magazines of our own, and sell them. This was 2011-2012. You would expect our lecturer to have taught us with 21st-century software. But no. He was teaching us with Adobe Pagemaker. Perhaps you don’t know how grievous this is. Let me help you. The final version of Adobe Pagemaker was released in July 2001. Modern newspaper and magazine publishers had already moved on to Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and so on. Mind you, I paid almost ₦600,000 school fees that year. It still hurts me every time I think about it. When it was time for us to produce our own newspapers and magazines, we had to use InDesign. I was the student editor and I spent hours practising with InDesign and Photoshop.

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We’re in a different age than we were 5 years ago. Things have changed and are changing faster than a sneeze. The internet has become vital to our lives. We’re already having to deal with the reality that school is not, and will never be, enough. Also, data prices are falling; though the general internet speed still leaves a lot to be desired, there have been improvements, and there will yet be. The growing penetration of the internet provides us with a great opportunity to do something new and big, here in Nigeria.

There are several educational websites in the world now where people can learn and get degrees. There’s CourseraKhan AcademyCodecademyedX, etc. One thing I’ve noticed about these websites is that many of their courses are not designed for Nigerian (and African) audiences. Knowledge that works in the West, no matter how sound it is, might still be limited when applied to Nigeria.

So, what can we do differently in Nigeria? There aren’t that many edTech platforms yet. Also, few schools have embraced the idea of distant learning. Like Mark Essien said during his talk at TEDxGbagada, “Let’s not play catch up. Let’s not think about copying what the West has done. Rather, let’s think about skipping a generation and then inventing what nobody else has invented.”

Companies as content producers and educators

What do Google, Hubspot, Hootsuite and Adobe have in common? Perhaps many things. But in this context, they are all commercial companies that provide educational materials. You could argue that they are able to do that because they are big and have the resources. Also, you could say that it’s because it benefits them and helps them achieve their business objectives. Fine. But how many big companies in Nigeria are doing that?

The concept of Content Marketing is already taking root in Nigeria. Companies are starting to realise how ineffective online advertising is. They are moving towards creating educational and informative content to attract more customers. My idea is simple. What if Nigerian companies created educational platforms where people could come to get knowledge that has economic relevance? Even if it means they have to hand out certificates.

These companies know what they want in their employees. They have knowledge of things most relevant to their business. I think it’s a good idea for them to pour this knowledge into modules and create a platform from which they can share. Since one reason we go to school is to gain knowledge that makes us employable, companies can help us save that money while also promoting their own brands. I think this is worth considering.

I don’t know how long it will take the Nigerian education system to adopt VR and AR technologies. I’m thinking maybe 50 or 100 years. So those are still too far ahead. But I think the idea of companies creating educational platforms and taking the place of unnecessarily expensive schools is worth considering. What do you think?

David Adeleke
David Adeleke

I’m always open to feedback and new ideas.

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Brian C Echeji
Brian C Echeji
5 years ago

Dear David,

I write to express the need for a total overhauling of the educational system in our dear nation.
Nothing seem to be working, no one is paying attention. My worry is that if nothing is done and in good time, a handful of us who are working hard to improve our lifes and space would have our kids pay for the high level of ignorance people at the BoP in our communities will unleash 10 years from now.
We must re-invent our educational systems, we must push edupreneurship to the rural communities, we must encourage those youths and teens to embrace it. When a tide rises, it doesn’t take some boats up but all the boats within that milieu goes up.

Thank you for this piece once again

Adeposi Okupe
Adeposi Okupe
Reply to  Brian C Echeji
5 years ago

I agree. See my comment on the facebook comment section above. I believe encouraging more startups to enter that space will prove more effective that hoping for the existing systems to change.

Ayomikun Amore
Ayomikun Amore
5 years ago

Hello David,
This is a wonderful piece you have here.
Honestly, this matter has to be tackled from the roots. I believe more attention has to be given to STEM(Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The generation next have to be taught bits of critical thinking (from age 10) in the various ways for example building platform games (very easy) while parents have to stop feeding them TV and comics. Responsibility and Self awareness has to be inculcated into the (primary) school curriculum. On the long run I believe secondary school owners/ state government must find a way to collaborate with industry experts to teach entrepreneurship to maturing minds and help them nurture their ideas as coaching young minds goes a long way. As regarding our tertiary institutions, some restructuring of some sought must happen. Nigerian degrees are loosing value, (even first class guys hustle badly to get jobs). Students must understand very early that its not only your degree that will get one a job. Personal development, writing professional certifications, reaching out to industry experts on things to do will help them key into the future they want. The system will remain unchanged for a while but I believe and hope for changes to happen soon. May God help our great nation. Stay Blessed.

James Enejo
James Enejo
Reply to  Ayomikun Amore
5 years ago

Ayomikun, like Brian said, we need to overhaul education in this country. Our educational system should be like a fertile land: providing a platform for plants to grow. That means our educational system should have a structured that helps dig deep to find people’s natural talent and educate them based on that, such that a person’s natural inclination is in alignment with his focus in life. That is when you get the best out of people.

As for our degrees, companies really don’t need it. In my opinion, our Nigerian degrees are a parameter for screening applications, certifications are a second level screening parameter. What really determines getting the job is the person’s level of development.

I currently work in a firm where the head of my department has only CIPM, there are others with same CIPM and masters degree but are not competent enough compared to the man currently heading. That is competence in action. He has more skills than his paper reflects and that is his selling point.

Ayomikun Amore
Ayomikun Amore
Reply to  James Enejo
5 years ago

Hello James,
I totally agree with Brian but at the same time we should understand the entire country needs complete overhauling. I believe that striving to add value in our own different ways and help upcoming and aspiring Nigerians in achieving their goals while also in pursuit of ours should be the focus. The problem with the educational sector has eaten way too deep and a complete overhaul right now wont be feasible and efficient. Innovative alternatives have to be taken to help develop young minds today because the world is changing very rapidly. I already mentioned personal development and how far it can take a person. As regards certifications, it is relative depending on the person and the field he chooses to work. Every man to his trade, passion might work for a few and learning something new for a few. In the end what really counts is pouring yourself into that particular aspect and giving your 100%. Experience too is key but In Nigeria today it is not really considered. We are at the point where you must be fully prepared to tackle problems and where a platform presents itself, you deliver your best. Conversely not giving up (failure upon failure but above all choosing success).

James Enejo
James Enejo
Reply to  Ayomikun Amore
5 years ago

Ayomikun,

I quite agree with this statement “As regards certifications, it is relative depending on the person and the field he chooses to work. Every man to his trade, passion might work for a few and learning something new for a few. In the end what really counts is pouring yourself into that particular aspect and giving your 100%”.

In your opinion, what specifically do you think should be done to tackle educational problems in Nigeria? Let’s connect on facebook, please send me your Facebook url

Ayomikun Amore
Ayomikun Amore
Reply to  James Enejo
5 years ago

Hello James,

You will find me on facbook as Ayomikun Modupe Amore.
https://www.facebook.com/ayomikun.amore

Dapo Babalola
Dapo Babalola
5 years ago

Quote:
In my second year in the university, I took a course titled ‘Newspaper and Magazine Production’. It was a mixture of theory and practicals. On one hand, the students had to learn the theoretical aspect of newspaper and magazine production. On the other, we were going to produce newspapers and magazines of our own, and sell them. This was 2011-2012. You would expect our lecturer to have taught us with 21st-century software. But no. He was teaching us with Adobe Pagemaker. Perhaps you don’t know how grievous this is. Let me help you. The final version of Adobe Pagemaker was released in July 2001. Modern newspaper and magazine publishers had already moved on to Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and so on.

Bla bla bla.

That’s where personal development comes in. It’s the same thing everywhere, your experience is even fair. Hear what guys from state and fed. Universities will tell you. I got taught 3d animation with Maya 7, when Maya 13 was already out. You want to hear more? People getting taught Cobol, FORTRAN, and obsolete prog languages in Nigerian schools. Let me not start.

There are educational websites now in Nigeria, for e learning.

Precious Mmeso
Precious Mmeso
5 years ago

we cannot ignore the fact that online education is here to stay and has much to offer. Unfortunatey, most people think that the online venues for online courses are edx and coursera. this is not true as viktor pointed out here: http://jackobian.com/threads/top-five-sites-like-coursera-and-edx.533/

Though the only challenge yet remains the fact that most people can’d have enough data to make use of these opportunities

Umar Abubakar Atiku
Umar Abubakar Atiku
4 years ago

Learning is now easy with the aid of internet. But it has come with great disadvantages which makes students lazy and exam malpractice is Now at its peak. http://www.kibdo.com.ng/2017/10/best-google-adsense-alternatives.html

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