By Eche Munonye
Covid-19 brought a huge challenge to education and literacy, First Bank of Nigeria Limited responded with a Rosetta stone of innovative e-learning initiatives that have far-reaching effects
Since 1967 that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been celebrating International Literacy Day to promote the importance of literacy and education, every September 8 had witnessed book gifting, book reading and related activities are undertaken by the UN body and its coalition of partners.
But this year is a departure as such enshrined activities are suspended and replaced with virtual meetings, a gesture that reflects the sign of the precarious situation of the world is as it is grappling with the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
Education has been in a state of limbo since schools––primary, secondary and tertiary institutions––and research institutes across the world were abruptly shut down as countries enforced lockdown to contain the ravages of the novel Covid-19. The disruption, a setback for education globally, inevitably fostered a lull in the effort to enhance literacy. And in the meantime, the world shifted to an alternative learning method which, by and large, is narrowed down to digital learning.
These challenges provided the backdrop for the theme of this year’s International Literacy Day: “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond,” which threw open discourse on how innovative and effective education and teaching methodologies are to be adopted or adapted in youth and adult literacy programmes during the period of the pandemic and beyond. In line with this thematic direction, countries are reviewing how they have fared in the new normal, and evaluation of various initiatives by individuals, corporate bodies and governments are being undertaken to ascertain how they align with the reality and what gaps needed to be filled.
For Nigeria, the stake is higher. Burdened with a high rate of illiteracy, inadequate digital infrastructure and an economy in dire straits, Nigeria has on its hand a challenging learning situation in the of the new order. The possibility of the country being further left behind in the race to literacy was writ large, an uncomfortable fact that raised several legitimate concerns bordering on how to ensure that students have access to learning resources, how they can be fully engaged to make them competitive internationally with their peers and how such engagement can help close the gap created by the closure of all educational institutions nationwide. While a cocktail of initiatives surfaced in the past few months to address these concerns and challenges, there was none as suitable, comprehensive and far-reaching as the e-learning initiatives of the First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
The initiative which could as well be nicknamed “Operation Moving One Million Nigerian Students To e-Learning” is a tripartite effort between the bank, Lagos State government and Roducate, an innovative technology firm that is providing educational solutions that enable primary, secondary and university students to continue to study the government-accredited curriculum of various subjects and disciplines in the convenience of their home.
Out of the mushroom of e-learning platforms in the aftermath of the lockdown, the First Bank initiative came with a big difference: the Roducate e-learning platform is available for free at www.firstbanknigeria.com/e-
Secondly, the content is boosted with value-added features such as tutorial videos, assignments, mock exam, note-taking, podcast and online games that further promote interactive learning and deepen digital skills of the learner.
Thirdly, the initiative is further reinforced with the provision of free 20, 000 units of e-learning devices for pupils, which FirstBank presented to the Lagos State government on June 11. This helped to break the barriers of data cost and device affordability as the low-end smartphones are preloaded with offline content for children who may not have access to devices or data. By all means, this initiative has been an outstanding effort and a boon to digital learning in the country.
The inevitability of the adoption of e-learning technology goes hand-in-hand with the imperative of imparting skills in emerging digital technologies. In this regard, FirstBank went an extra mile with the rollout of complementary initiatives that justifiably empowered youths with the required capability.
The Bank’s partnership with IBM, for instance, brought the benefit of the global tech company’s Digital-Nation Africa programme to youths in tertiary institutions. The online youth-focused learning programme enables innovation and skills development on emerging technologies in key areas such as Artificial Intelligence, coding, cloud, internet of things, blockchain, Data Science and analytics, and cybersecurity. A second partnership with Curious Learning, a non-profit organisation renown for providing learning apps for kids, afforded pupils in the age range of three to eight years old the use of fun, self-guided learning apps to help them with their cognitive skills at a fundamental level.
The significance of the FirstBank e-learning initiatives cannot be overemphasized. As schools are gearing up to resume soon, there are over 10,000 sign-ups on the Roducate e-learning platform. It is expected that the students have had a grasp of the nitty-gritty of e-learning which, going forward, is expected to be integrated into the country’s educational system.
For FirstBank, a member of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, the initiatives are an attestation to its longstanding tradition of supporting education in various ways, a commitment succinctly echoed by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adesola Adeduntan: “The e-learning initiative aligns with our Corporate Responsibility and sustainability initiatives and falls under one of our key strategic pillars, thus Education through Support to our Communities.” Indeed, the Bank has a portfolio of projects in support of education, including infrastructure projects in 10 universities and three secondary schools, support for professorial chairs in 10 universities and teaching of financial literacy and entrepreneurial and career counselling to over 80,000 students in over 80 secondary schools in the country via its FutureFirst programme.
The e-learning initiatives further reinforced FirstBank’s status as an important stakeholder, leader and innovator in the country’s education space, a fact amplified by the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who, having noted that the “intervention by FirstBank could not have come at a better time,” went on to declared his delight that the state government “have found a real development partner in FirstBank.”
Court Slams N50m Fine on Senator Abbo for Assaulting Woman at Sex-Toy Shop
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday, awarded N50m damages against the senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo, to be paid as compensation to a female attendant at a sex-toy shop, Osimibibra Warmate, whom he assaulted.
Justice Samira Bature gave the order in her judgment on the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Warmate against the senator.
The video clip of the alleged assault of the woman by the senator had gone viral.
The police had in 2019 charged before a magistrate court in Zuba, Abuja with one count of assaulting Warmate at a sex-toy shop in Abuja.
But the presiding magistrate, Abdullahi Ilelah, had dismissed the case after upholding the no-case submission filed by the senator.
Warmate, through her legal team including Esosa Omo-Usoh and Nelson Onuoha, went on to sue Abbo in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed before the FCT High Court and marked FCT/CV/2393/19.
Justice Bature upheld the plaintiff’s case in a judgment on Monday by ordering the senator to pay N50m to the applicant.
Boko Haram Ambushes Zulum’s Convoy, Kills 15 Officers
At least 15 security personnel comprising eight policemen, three soldiers and four Civilian-JTF personnel died today after suspected Boko Haram gunmen ambushed a convoy of Borno officials travelling to Baga town.
The attacked officials, according to sources familiar with the attack, were heading to Baga town ahead of government’s planned return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Maiduguri to the camps.
A battery of armed soldiers and police officers, as well as Civilian-JTF personnel, were deployed to provide escort to the officials.
The convoy ran into an ambush by Boko Haram at a spot called Korochara, which is about 2km away from the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force on the way to Baga from Monguno.
“Seven policemen, four C-JTF members and three soldiers died instantly as the insurgents rained bullets on the unsuspecting members of the convoy,” an official of the Borno state government who wouldn’t want to be named told our reporter.
The source said the attack happened at about 2 pm
Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum, who is expected to supervise the arrival of the IDPs at Baga, had left Maiduguri earlier in the day via a military chopper.
The Borno State government and the security agencies whose personnel were affected are yet to officially comment on the attack.
The attack happened four days after a colonel, D.C. Bako, died after another ambush by Boko Haram terrorists.
Mr Bako was until his death the commander of 25 Task Force Brigade in Damboa. He died in a military hospital where he was receiving treatment after the ambush.
Food for Living: Listen to Your Inner Voice
By Henry Ukazu
In today’s contemporary world, we have many interests battling for our attention, especially with the advent of social media. Staying focused can therefore, be a challenge. As rational minds, we all have different thoughts and feelings, but what makes the difference is what we see and hear in our inner minds. For example, we all sit in the same classroom, but our level of comprehension and articulation is different. As a team working on a mission, your vision might be different from what others see, some might be there just to get paid while others might be there to transform the world. Even pain has a different feeling, some people might scream when they feel pain while another person might endure.
As a progressive on a journey to transform the world with your ideas, innovations, and personality, it might be difficult to get a team that believe in not only you, but also in your vision. Whether you are an entrepreneur, politician, student, religious leader, etc., you can challenge and change the status quo. Changing the world is not easy, in fact, it is not easy to change the world; it takes a lot to change a tradition that has been in place for decades, but it is interesting to know that it is easier to influence people than to change them, this is because human beings generally are resistant to change.
Question: Do you have a dream, vision, idea, or plan to bring a change in the society or government? Please bear in mind that it is not going to be easy. However, your concern should be on focusing on the reason it should work and not why it is not going to work. You may be wondering how you’ll achieve this feat when faced with glaring challenges. A great way to remain focused in the face of adversity is to listen to the still small voice in your inner mind. Your inner voice is the greatest strength you can muster when all other options fail. For instance, if you have a strong belief in your network, mentor, friend, parent, associate, or relation to support your work and they disappoint you, what will you do? Will you perish your idea?
Again, you may have strong networks, but they may not see hope in what you are doing. What then will you do? If you strongly feel the vibe and urge to continue in your vision, please listen to your inner voice. A good way to know if your voice is leading you aright is the presence of peace of mind.
For instance, if you need to make a decision at the moment, but can’t figure out what to do, take a moment to take a deep breath, relax and meditate on the pros and cons of the idea. It’s called the law of mental transformation. Success is not a product of what you do alone, it is as a result of who you are becoming than what you are doing. True success is a product of who you are. It should be noted that the mind is like a garden. A garden won’t stay fallow. It either grows flowers and vegetables or weeds, depending on the seeds you sow on it. Your mind will either manifest success or failure depending on the thoughts you feed with it.
Furthermore, it is normal to complain when the line doesn’t add up. For instance, when you lose your biggest clients; feel cheated in business, or even lose a loved one, there are many voices that will give you cogent reasons you shouldn’t continue in that line of business or see the loss of the loved as the end of your vision, especially if the person serves as your biggest supporter or inspiration. But if you are able to think out of the box, you may realise that there are forces or circumstances that may work in your favour without you knowing due to the demise of the person.
Let me share a personal experience with you; three years ago, I quit a good job with no prospect of another job insight because I felt the urge to see my late grandmother, promote my book and get married. Amongst these three reasons, my grandmother has a bigger role and influence because I constantly see her in my dream pleading with me to see her. I didn’t know why, but maybe because I was one of her favourite grandchildren if not the most favourite grandchild. I took the bull by the horn and resigned and traveled to see her, not only did she bless me, she prayed for my book and professional career. I have no iota of doubt that her blessings and prayers have continued to play a huge role in my life. There is a saying that when you lose a loved one, don’t grief much because they have gone to prepare a better opportunity for you. In fact, they are seen as guardian angels.
In conclusion, just so you know, just like your greatest supporter can be your family member, friend, network or stranger, in the same way, they can serve as detractors. Your primary concern is how you can listen to your inner voice and dare to succeed.
Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org