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Airtel Partners UNICEF to Scale-Up Digital Learning For Children in Nigeria And Across Africa

Airtel has entered a five-year multi-million dollar partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to train 100,000 children in Digital learning.

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Airtel Financial Results - Investors King

Multinational telecommunications service company, Airtel has entered a five-year multi-million dollar partnership with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to train 100,000 children in Digital learning.

The partnership mandate that schools are provided with free internet connectivity as well as free access to learning platforms for digital learning, particularly the vulnerable children. The partnership also seeks to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.    

Airtel Nigeria and UNICEF Nigeria under this new initiative are planning to help connect schools in Lagos and Kano to the internet, to enable children to learn digitally. This pilot initiative is expected to benefit over 10,000 schoolchildren in the two states.

Speaking on its partnership with Airtel Nigeria, UNICEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins said, “By championing digital education for children in Africa, this partnership with Airtel Africa will help put children’s learning back on track.

“Digital learning is the gateway to equipping young people with the right skills that will support them to transition from learning to earning.

“We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares in this vision, and is helping to drive the process of scaling up internet connectivity for school children in Nigeria”.

Also commenting on its partnership with UNICEF is the CEO of Airtel Africa Olusegun Ogunsanya, who disclosed that one of the social responsibilities of the brand is to ensure that children get access to quality education.

In his words, “As a business, we have focused on education as a key area of our corporate social responsibility, and we are delighted that this partnership with UNICEF will enable us to accelerate results.

“It also coincides with the launch of our new sustainability strategy, which lays out our commitment to education. We are excited to be working with UNICEF to advance the education agenda on the continent through facilitating connectivity and online access to play a role in driving change.”

UNICEF whose mission is to cater for the rights of every child, disclosed that its partnership with Airtel Nigeria was necessitated, owing to the fact that a lot of children in Nigeria and across other African countries had their education disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They, therefore, deemed it fit that by championing digital education for children in Africa, it will help reposition their learning back on track.

Airtel and UNICEF partnership will not only benefit learners in Nigeria, but will also benefit learners in other African countries such as Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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Education

Generation Z Turn to Online Learning to Sharpen Their Skills

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Generation Z

The transition from traditional to virtual and hybrid workplace environments has proven to be irreversible. Reports by Google data on Generation Z behavior indicate that a significant majority of this population has become accustomed to online-based learning through visually rich, technology-based, and socially interactive platforms.

Many Generation Z learners have expressed a high preference for virtual and blended learning over traditional programmes that usually require them to enroll and attend physical classrooms to attain certain qualifications.

Learning is ubiquitous and second nature to Generation Z employees. Markedly, the period spanning the last three years has seen an accelerated rate of employees enrolling for various L&D programs, most notably online courses, which offered the convenience and accessibility needed amidst health safety threats and inconveniences caused by the pandemic.

Anca Gosling, Aeroclass’s Director for Content Development, notes that Generation Z, colloquially known as “Gen Zers” or Zoomers, grow up immersed in technology, hence they value technology solutions, inclusivity, and construct their identities around self-reliant and pragmatic solutions. It is not surprising that Gen Z prefers ‘learning at the point of need’ using modern technologies, smartphones, or personal computers. At Aeroclass we use technology to anticipate and cater to the needs of the next generation to create a unique and personal learning experience.

In 2020, Gen Z learners interacted with digital learning content 50% more than in 2019. Most generation Z learners consider learning indispensable to build a flourishing career. Unlike traditional programs, virtual learning options provide a set of learning and development pros, from increasing internal mobility for individuals pursuing up-skilling and re-skilling courses to providing opportunities for leadership development, management development, and virtual onboarding.

A survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2021 reported that over 86% of Generation Z have enrolled in online courses to build hard and soft skills. Further, the report showed that this population spends 12% more of their private time on online-based learning platforms building skills than the average learner.

The past 2-3 years have offered significant lessons for many organizations – lots of unexpected challenges and considerable opportunities to capitalize on. In fact, the learning and development industry has moved to the forefront. It is now a matter of interest for many individuals, including those in employment and those looking to secure jobs in different sectors, including the aviation industry. Many employees and those seeking employment have recognized that learning is a “must-have” requirement to succeed. Therefore, they are exploring learning options that can provide the opportunity to further develop their careers and access C-suite level. This has led to a tectonic shift toward digital learning options where this generation of learners can access quality content and interact with a wide range of information pertinent to the challenges and complexities that characterize contemporary workplace environments.

Besides offering convenience and access to quality content, online learning increased robustness as a learning solution, providing superior coverage regarding instructional materials and reach. “Compared to classroom training, online learning offers a more inclusive option. Leave no one behind (LNOB) is the transformative promise of the United Nations (UN) 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development and can be achieved only by empowering people through education. Technology is a powerful tool that allows people to access information that otherwise they would not be able to access.” explained Anca Gosling.

From an economic perspective, virtual training has presented a cost-effective alternative, enabling students to access L&D programmes at a lower budget than they would incur if they were to enroll in classroom-based courses. Two years ago, over 38% of individuals taking learning and development courses projected less spending on classroom-based learning, and 57% anticipated bigger budgets for online learning. In 2022, these figures have changed significantly, with current statistics indicating a high predisposition toward online learning. Today, 73% of learning and development professionals predict less spending on classroom training, while 79% have estimated higher budgets for online learning.

Furthermore, online learning offers a smart and innovative way for learners to evaluate themselves and quantify the learning outcomes from various programmes. Employees can use online-based engagement surveys to measure program effectiveness and assess their value in producing the desired learning outcomes and satisfaction.

Anca Gosling emphasizes that organizations must develop robust L&D programmes and infuse a continuous learning culture to build a future-proof workforce. Considering the complex business environment that we are currently facing, investing in employees will surely pay off. At the same time, organizations should consider aligning their learning strategy with the core business objectives.  This will increase retention, and motivation and ultimately the business will perform better. As Gen Z represents the dominant cohort of employees in the workplace, online-based training comes as a natural choice and a feasible solution for organizations to imbue a strong learning culture.

Research shows that the pandemic had a strong effect on Gen Zers. For those that are looking for a career change, perusing other opportunities or simply learning a new skill, online learning provides an effective way to develop skills that can connect them to their new career paths and offer the desired job. Besides, online training shifts learning from the static, one-off classroom courses to an impactful, flexible, and sustainable environment. Simply put, the sky is the limit!.

 

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Education

FG to Boost Internet Connection in OAU, Unilag, Unilorin, and 14 Other Institutions

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Broadband Penetration - Investors King

The federal government has approved a sum of N400 million each to boost internet connection in Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Lagos, University of Ilorin, and 14 other institutions across the country.

The approval which was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, is aimed to increase broadband penetration in Nigeria. 

Investors King understands that this is in addition to the agreement which the ministry sighed with top tech company, Microsoft to train 5 million Nigerians on high-demand digital skills. 

Speaking during the award of the contracts letters in Abuja, Pantami noted that Nigeria is on course to achieve 70 percent broadband penetration by 2025. 

While highlighting the benefits of the broadband project to include improving the quality of education and overall growth of the beneficiary institutions, the minister stated that three higher institutions were selected from each geo-political zone of the country.

On the list of beneficiary institutions include Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Lagos and University of Ilorin, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; University of Calabar; University of Benin; and the University of Port Harcourt.

Others are Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Bayero University, Kano; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; Borno State University; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Gombe State University; Federal University of Technology, Minna; University of Ilorin; University of Abuja; and College of Education (Special), Ibadan.

In the same development, Pantami added that 20 markets, 3 each from the six geo-political zones will also benefit from the broadband projects. 

The markets include the famous computer village In Lagos, the highly patronised Wuse market in Abuja; Bodija Market in Ibadan, Kantin Kwari Market, Kano; Central Market, Lafia, Nasarawa State; Mandate Market, Ilorin; Jos Main Market, Plateau State; Jimeta Central Market, Yola; New Market, Gombe.

Others are Oja Oba, Akure, Ondo State; Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Ariaria International Market, Aba, Abia State; International Modern Market, Owerri, Imo State; Main Market, Onitsha, Anambra State; Watt Market, Calabar, Cross River; Oba Market, Benin, Edo State; and Swali Market, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.

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FG Hints at Alternative Funding For Tertiary Education to Address Academic Challenges

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The Federal Government has mulled the need to explore alternative means of funding for tertiary education in Nigeria amid academic disruption caused by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)

Investors King reported that academic activities in public universities in Nigeria were disrupted for about eight months. 

Speaking at a public event organised by the House of Representatives, the Minister for Works and Former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola noted that alternative funding seems to be the only forward-looking way to fund tertiary education in Nigeria. 

While acknowledging that tertiary education needs collective funding from all levels of government, he however highlights areas where the universities and polytechnics could generate funds to include printing press and consultancy services. 

“University consultancy services, data provision, poll results, value data, and printing press are value proposals of alternatives for tertiary Institutions,” he said. 

Fashola also disapproved of the autonomy sought by lecturers in tertiary education. He noted that it is a big issue that needs to be addressed going forward. 

Also speaking at the event is the Director General of the budget office of the federation, Benjamin Akabueze. 

Akabueze who aligned himself with the position of the minister noted that the current system of funding can not feed the tertiary education sector. 

‘There has to be sustainable funding of tertiary education. We can’t continue with the current system because it is not working and not sustainable.” he stated. 

Nonetheless, the event also witnessed opposing opinions, particularly from Professor Uduak Ekpo. A professor of education at the University of Calabar

Ekpo disagrees with the earlier position established by both Fashola and Akabueze. He noted that if lecturers are saddled with the responsibility of funding, it will affect the quality of education and research. 

He concluded that the funding might still not be successful noting that lectures are better off in the classrooms or labs. 

On his part, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke bemoaned any idea to increase the fee paid by students in search of alternative funding. He noted that with the level of poverty and the state of the economy, many students will not be able to afford any increase.

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