Thursday, December 9, 2021

    International Literacy Day 2020: FirstBank Targets one million Nigerian students with Innovative e-learning Solutions

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    Naija247news Editorial Team
    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    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

    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

    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 First Bank 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

    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, First Bank went an extra mile
    with the rollout of complementary initiatives that justifiably empowered youths with the required

    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 First Bank, 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.”

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