Slum2School’s Virtual Learning Classroom Could be the Future of School in Nigeria
Slum2School Africa, a volunteer-driven development organisation, has launched Nigeria’s first-ever virtual learning classroom to enable Nigerian children in remote communities to have access to education.
With the shut-down of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual learning classroom was launched to ensure that Slum2school beneficiaries can be reached using digital technology. To achieve this, the team set up virtual and cluster learning programs across different communities through their state-of-the-art virtual learning structure.
About 3 months ago we saw that thousands of our kids in secondary and primary schools across slums and underserved communities weren’t learning and many were being engaged in various abusive activities.Otto Orondaam, Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Slum2school Africa
We took a very audacious decision to attempt to build the first Virtual Learning Classroom/Studio in Nigeria, and get digital tablets & laptops to thousands of our kids to aid virtual learning.
Slum2School is a social development organisation founded in 2012 by Otto Orondaam. Its aim is to breach some of the gaps in the educational system in Africa and transform the lives of African children.
In collaboration with the government, private sectors and other developmental agencies, the organization has previously provided educational scholarships, health and psycho-social support for underserved children in slums and hard-to-reach communities.
At Slum2school we believe that the future of education is digital and every child deserves to have access to the best of educational tools to learn and succeed in the 21st century regardless of their social and economic background.Otto Orondaam, Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Slum2school Africa
The virtual learning classroom is now live and has reached about 100 children. However, the goal is to expand its reach to 10,000 children.
Ushering a new era of remote schooling
Educational institutions across the country have been shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the health crisis, policymakers are faced with a dilemma between keeping schools closed to reduce contact or opening them up with new stringent measures to ensure minimal contact.
A survey of 1,310 students in over 10 communities showed that 96% of the students surveyed were eager to return to school. Students are eager to return to the social learning environment and parents are worried about the academic future of their children.
The educational disruption caused by the pandemic is already been felt by many families. Some parents have been compelled to home-school their children even though they lack the skills and resources required to adequately fulfil the task. In the end, both the productivity of parents and the children’s social and educational lives are negatively affected.
Online learning strategies initiated by schools so far have been barely organised. Teachers lack the requisite skills for remote teaching and as such, there seems to be a lot of trial and error especially with regards to student’s assessment. This has rendered them a lot less ineffective than the facilitators would have wanted.
A replication of virtual learning studios across the country will not only be a superior alternative, it will also mitigate the negative effects of the faulty system.
Digital Learning Beyond the Lockdown
While the shutdown of schools nationwide is quickly directing the focus of individuals and institutions towards digital learning, the adoption of digital learning should probably extend beyond the lockdown.
Incorporating digital learning into our educational sector would bring a new element to learning. With everything available in the cloud, students and teachers would enjoy a more collaborative style of working.
With advantages such as ease of research, quick access to information, and increased options for creativity, digital learning tools and technology will fill the gaps in our educational system where traditional classroom teaching falls behind.
It could also lead to the emergence a new crop of digital-savvy teachers skilled with digital teaching processes and willing to take on virtual students. This could also lead to a de-institutionalisation of the learning process as students in a digital class don’t necessarily need to belong to the same school or institution.
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