Even as uncertainty lingers over when schools in the country shut down since March as part of government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease would fully reopen for academic activities, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has reiterated its resolve to make electronic learning (e-learning) accessible to Nigerians as part of its efforts to boost literacy in the country.
The bank said this in a statement issued on the occasion of this year’s International Literacy Day. The International Literacy Day is always celebrated across the world on September 8.
The day was declared as International Literacy Day and was founded by proclamation of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1966 to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.
This year’s celebration, according to UNESCO, focuses on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.” The organisation, on its website, noted: “During COVID-19, in many countries, adult literacy programmes were absent in the initial education response plans, so most adult literacy programmes that did exist were suspended, with just a few courses continuing virtually, through TV and radio, or in open air spaces.”
Indeed, given the infrastructure challenges that developing countries like Nigeria face, the coronavirus crisis has particularly affected literacy programmes.
However, FirstBank, which celebrates the International Literacy Day as a member of the Global Education Coalition led by UNESCO, has partnered with innovative technology firms to provide e-learning solutions with Government approved curriculum and digital skills for students towards the drive to enable 1million students to move to e-learning platforms.
For instance, when the government imposed lockdown measures in March, the First- Bank announced that it was moving one million children to e-learning in collaboration with a number of renowned organisations including IBM, provided opportunities for the acquisition of digital skills including Coding, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science & Analytics which would promote opportunities to learn skills of the future.
Commenting on the move at the time, CEO, FirstBank Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said: “In keeping with who we are at FirstBank, our commitment to self-development and continuous improvement is never far from our thinking.
As such we are encouraging all to consider and register for any of the excellent programmes being offered free by Ivy League schools and have curated a list of them covering topics such as management, personal development, and entrepreneurship which can be found on our website. “With these measures, we are delighted to support our customers because you all have empowered us to do so by choosing to Bank with us.
This is indeed a time to double down efforts and explore opportunities to ease the impact of the extension on you.” Similarly, in collaboration with the Lagos State Government, FirstBank sponsored an elearning initiative- “Roducate”- which is structured in line with the government’s accredited curriculum for primary, secondary and tertiary schools across various fields of academic endeavours, such as science, commercial and arts.
The initiative includes tutorial videos to reinforce the learning engagement as well as assignments and mock exam to test the students’ knowledge and progress in the course of studying. In addition, learning on the platform enables one to take notes for quick reference.
Speaking on the implementation of the initiative, Adeduntan said: “The partnership with Lagos State has seen us provide low-end devices for students preloaded with Roducate offline; content which include Government accredited curriculum for primary through secondary education and several university courses.
This solution will see Lagos state offer children in the lower bracket, who may not have access to devices or data from home affordable smart phones preloaded with the curriculum. The phones have SIMs and limited data tied, only, to the Roducate learning product, which means the recipients cannot browse, encouraging safe learning but can still submit tests, mock exams etc.”
Also, in June, the bank presented 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government for onward distribution to school children. It said that the presentation of the devices, in partnership with Robert & John (an edu-tech company which owns Roducate) was part of activities implemented to close the gap caused by the disruption in children education’s due to schools’ closure, occasioned by the pandemic