Education Summit: Stakeholders commend Lagos for EKOEXCEL initiative

September 7, 2022

Stakeholders in education have commended Lagos State Government for the introduction of EKOEXCEL, a transformational initiative to boost learning and teaching, using cutting-edge technology.

Many of the stakeholders were among the panelists and participants at the 2022 Lagos State Education Summit, themed ‘Creating a sustainable Fit-For-Purpose Education Model’ held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, held between August 29 to 30.

The panelists includes:Soji Megbowon, STEM teacher and co-founder, Teenprenuer Hub; Lanre Abolaji Oguntoye, science educator, Greensprings School; Femisola Awosika, Executive Director, Robert & John Ltd.; Omowale David-Ashiru, MD, New Globe Education Services and Amabelle Nwakanma, Director of Programme, LEAP Africa.

They all expressed their opinions while speaking on a topic: ‘Emerging Technologies in Education’ (Pre-tertiary education), the session was moderated by Innocent Oaikhena, school administrator at Corona Day Secondary School.

The panelists assessed Lagos’s current state of play and areas for further improvement.

Commenting on Lagos’ adoption of technology in its primary schools, Awosika commended the state government, which introduced EKOEXCEL, a transformational initiative for boosting learning and teaching, using cutting-edge technology in 2019, for its impressive educational policies.

“Lagos State has wowed my organization. The way they’ve embraced technology for child development deserves kudos. The way they’ve used technology to develop the children in Lagos and how the leadership; directors, permanent secretary, commissioner and the governor approach it, is commendable. We have worked together well. Whenever we come to them with technology and say this is what will have. Immediately, they’re embracing it. That’s a big leap. Working with other states and Lagos, they are certainly the best,” he said.

Mrs Omowale David-Ashiru, whose NewGlobe, an e-learning solution provider that has supported urgent education transformation for over a decade in Africa and Asia and supports visionary governments by creating robust technology-enabled education systems, went a step further than Awosika by stressing the importance of teaching and learning solutions.

The head of NewGlobe, the technical partner to interventions, including EKOEXCEL in Lagos, EdoBEST (Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation) in Edo State and KwaraLEARN in Kwara State, also highlighted the pervasiveness of technology in all sectors, including education and the importance of data.

“Technology is no longer just an industry, it is in every industry. So, to that extent, technology is firmly in education. It fits in teaching and learning, all aspects of things. One of the things technology has to do is render, and I would love to use Lagos as an example through EKOEXCEL. They have used technology to make education accessible to children everywhere. A child in the outskirts and the suburbs gets the same education quality through technology.

“A speaker asked in the plenary session, does Lagos State know how many pupils they have today? I say yes, because of EKOEXCEL and technology. He also said something very true; data. Just look at the data; you can use that to make decisions. You can use that to innovate, you can use that to empower teachers, you can do so much, and that’s through technology.

Responding to a question from the moderator about the advantages of the emerging technologies and their impact on learning, David-Ashiru said it goes beyond being a consumer to the producer of the technology. She also reiterated the importance of literacy, saying only literate people can build their technologies and that increasing literacy is one of EKOEXCEL’s goals.

David-Ashiru said, “The people who design and produce those technologies, that’s what we should be looking at. And why is that important? The truth is, if you’re not the one producing the technology, the technology will not be designed for you. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. Let me give a simple example. If you say something to Siri, sometimes it says sorry. I don’t understand what you’re saying because Nigerians did not design Siri with your accents. If a Nigerian was the one that designed the technology, it would be easier. Now, how do you do that? English. English is the international language of programming. We’ve talked about coding; that’s fantastic. But English is the international language of programming. So, suppose you want to do it and don’t have foundational literacy. In that case, you won’t be able to read and learn to produce those technologies. That is why there has to be a lot of focus on our literacy. So before we talk about using AI, virtual reality and the others, we need to start from the basics. We need to do that so that we can build these technologies.”
She went on to say that the environment is crucial when discussing fit-for-purpose technology for pupils and teachers.

“When you’re thinking about designing a curriculum for your young people, you have to ask yourself, what is their community asking of them at a particular time in their lives? Or their country asking them? What would their families ask them? What are the needs? Things are happening in the world, and we need people fit for purpose to help solve those challenges. So, innovation is also important.

“Then, technology is not just about getting tablets. The environment is also important. How many people have access to the internet? How many have access to electricity? In terms of bringing in technology, what Lagos has to do is invest in solutions that will meet the needs of the people. Suppose we want to introduce technology to teachers. Can we have the kind that will meet our needs in our environment? Using New Globe and the type of tablets we use, they are designed to be functional. You can get all the information that you need to teach. You don’t need the internet to use it. Only the headteacher needs to connect to the cloud and create a local area network. No internet is required. Data is inside the LAN; you get the data in real time. NewGlobe provides technology that doesn’t need to be charged daily; you can use it for two weeks. Our tech should always be appropriate.”

Earlier at the summit’s opening, Governor Sanwo-Olu assured his administration would commit more resources to ensure that all out-of-school children in the State returned to school.

He said, “Our administration is passionate about education, and we aim to bring transformation that will make our children better ambassadors of the State and country. We’ll prepare them with the requisite skills for tomorrow’s jobs.”

Sanwo-Olu said the State’s new school model was an example of the desired Fit-For-Purpose Education System. The governor also spoke on investments his administration had made in the sector, that through EKOEXCEL, 15,000 teachers have been upskilled.

This article appeared originally on TheSun September 5, 2022.