By Sthe Shabangu
As one of the continent’s economic powerhouses, Nigeria has in many ways set new standards of progress across Africa. But, it’s become clear that in order to maintain this momentum, the country needs new answers to existing education challenges.
Indeed, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, recently announced that currently 11.5 million school-age children in the country are not attending school.
And as a result of the large volume of children not in schools, Nigeria’s literate population currently sits at about 63 million, with between 65 and 75 million illiterate people in the country.
While government – recognising that education is key to the stability of the economy – is looking at measures to formalise the non-formal education sector, there have again been calls for the establishment of more public-private sector partnerships in order to help overcome this challenge.
But, it’s also become increasingly clear that if we want to address this challenge, we can’t continue to do things as they’ve always been done.
Nigeria needs to use its greatest asset
While we can’t ignore the importance of investing in content-related resources and the like, the most meaningful way we can make a major impact is through the country’s greatest educational asset – its teachers.
Through teachers we have the opportunity to make a genuine difference to the stories of generations to come. Just one teacher can affect the lives of many students.
With this in mind Samsung set out to spread its Smart School initiative far and wide.
Geared towards the strategic development of teachers by enhancing the skills vital in today’s classroom, Samsung Smart Schools make use of the latest ICT solutions to drive teacher and student-led learning.
Equipped with a wide range of learning tools such as tablets, laptops, desktops, an e-board and a WiFi printer, these schools are designed to support interactive teaching and learning, as well as greater collaboration through engaging digital content.
Our goal is to empower teachers to provide quality education through a combination of learner management systems, content and interactive management solutions.
We don’t simply want to help teachers educate young Nigerians; we want to help them grow creative young minds for whom the sky is no longer the limit.
To date, Samsung has rolled out five different smart schools across Nigeria in the districts of Ogun, Imo, Cross River, Abuja and Delta States.
As a result, we have trained about 192 teachers – teachers who have no doubt left an incredible legacy in the lives of many more Nigerian students.
Leaving a legacy that will last
But the story doesn’t end there. If we truly want to see new generations making a tangible contribution to the workplace and helping to drive the economy forward, we need to make sure they are also equipped with practical skills to help them succeed.
Given that the digital age is upon us, we know that ICT and engineering skills top the list of capabilities which need to be developed if we truly want to progress. This is an area in which Samsung feels it can truly leverage its wealth of experience and expertise in the tech space to make a difference.
And for us the difference comes in the form of our two Engineering Academies in Lagos and Ekiti. Aimed at addressing the skills gap in technical and engineering expertise, the Engineering Academies not only draw on the knowledge and expertise of the company’s highly skilled staff members, but also equip students with ‘starter’ toolkits so that they are fully empowered to start growing their own businesses should this be the direction they wish to take.
Already these Academies have trained over 800 young minds, and seen 257 students graduate.
There can be no doubt that the private sector has an increasingly important role to play in helping to address Nigeria’s education concerns. But, if we want to have a genuine effect on the country’s education scene, we have to become smarter in the way we address current challenges.
We need to ensure that the solutions we implement are powerful enough to spread beyond our spheres of influence. Indeed, we must make sure they have the reach needed to impact a nation.
Sthe Shabangu is Lead Public Relations, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship, Samsung Africa Office.