Education

Improved access to affordable quality education would enhance inclusive economic growth

by STEPHEN ONYEKWELU

February 7, 2017 | 1:18 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

Affordable quality education has the ability to redress rising global income inequality and wealth distribution, raise standards of living, and increase life expectancy among other collateral socio-economy benefits that come with education for all, experts say.

The correlation between educational attainment and income cannot be overemphasised. It is sometimes a Catch 22 situation; because a child’s parents or guardians cannot afford to pay the child’s schools fees, the child would not be able to go to school and because the child is not able to go to school their ability to command decent remuneration is diminished and the circle continues.

In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Education estimates that 50 percent of in-school children are not learning because they cannot read or write; and about 63 percent of children who live in rural areas cannot read at all. In addition around 84 percent of children in the lowest economic quartile cannot read at all.

In response these situations, the Bridge International Academies has designed a game changing model to deliver both quality and affordable education to low-income earners in Africa and around the world. Their approach is both innovative and disruptive of the education landscape.

The International Academies currently has 23 schools in Lagos in seven Local Government Areas, serving 6,000 pupils and about 200 teachers. Its pedagogy is a blend of both digital content and learning materials to ensure seamless delivery and learning.

“Our greatest achievements border on up-skilling teachers. Given that our schools are usually located in disadvantaged communities, the teachers often come from these communities as well and need help with content knowledge, delivery and class management” said Adesuwa Ifedi, Director, Corporate and Government Affairs at Bridges International Academies, Nigeria.

Pupil fees in Nigeria are less than 200 Naira a day (for a 60-day term). This covers extra lessons from 2pm to 5pm, classwork books, homework used in class and exam fees.

“We teach the Nigerian national curriculum. Our results in Kenya show that Bridge pupils learn in one year what peers learn in two years in neigbouring schools, based on USAID designed exams” the international chain of nursery and primary schools wrote in its brochure.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), nearly 17 percent, that is about 1.1 billion of the world’s adult population is still not literate; two thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve.

The scale of illiteracy among youth also represents an enormous challenge; an estimated 122 million youth globally are illiterate, of which young women represent 60.7 percent.

The 67.4 million children who are out of school are likely to encounter great difficulties in the future, as deficient or non-existent basic education is the root cause of illiteracy.

With some 775 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, literacy for all thus remains elusive.

Bridge partners with governments and civil society organisations to customise programmes for use in the public sector.

Education, or the transmission, acquisition, creation and adaptation of information, knowledge, skills and values, is a key lever of sustainable development. This is based on a vision of inclusive societies in which all citizens have equitable opportunities to access effective and relevant learning throughout life delivered through multiple formal, non-formal and informal settings.

As such, education is essential to individuals’ development as it is to the development of their families, of the local and national communities to which they belong, and to the world at large. As a fundamental human right enshrined in a number of international normative frameworks, and built into most national legislation, the right to education is to be seen as an enabling right for the realization of other economic, social and cultural rights, as well as a catalyst for positive societal change, social justice and peace.

Schools nowadays are required to learn faster than ever before in order to deal effectively with the growing pressures of a rapidly changing environment. Many schools however, look much the same today as they did a generation ago, and too many teachers are not developing the pedagogies and practices required to meet the diverse needs of 21st-century learners.

In response, a growing body of scholars, educators and policy makers around the world is making the case that schools should be re-conceptualised as “learning organisations” that can react more quickly to changing external environments, embrace innovations in internal organisation, and ultimately improve student outcomes.

Despite strong support for and the intuitive appeal of the school as a learning organisation, relatively little progress has been made in advancing the concept, either in research or practice. This lack of progress partly stems from a lack of clarity or common understanding of the school as learning organisation.

STEPHEN ONYEKWELU


by STEPHEN ONYEKWELU

February 7, 2017 | 1:18 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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