Imagine simplifying educational methods and adding fun and entertainment to the learning process for primary, secondary and even tertiary levels of education in Nigeria. This is what the KYAN technology is all about. In this interview with Ejike Ejike and Chika Mefor, the head of global business, education and skill of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service (IL&FS) Education, Pooja Gianchandani, what it has done for India and how the technology intends to change the education fortunes of Nigeria. Excerpts…
What have you come to Nigeria to do?
Education is an important driver for growth. I represent the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service (IL&FS) Education, which is the social infrastructure arm of the IL&FS group. We have worked all over India in about 25 states to offer education solution and services that address three major challenges in the education policy and implementation. We are working on bringing about better access to good quality education in schools. We are doing that through two types of intervention, one is the technology intervention while the other is non technology best intervention;
The second is building capacity of teachers, educators, academician by teacher training and other programme so that the school system can grow.
And the third important part is providing wholistic learning developmental solution so that the students can grow. So it is not only education based on bookish learning but it is the whole development that we are doing, which is the whole school offering called school leap. It is the Learning Enrichment and Advancement Programme.
We are here in Nigeria because we have done research and have understood the educational need and requirement of the country. We feel that the journey we have gone through, in India is relevant for the work that the Nigerian government is wanting to do here.
Young people want education, there is focus of capacity building of teachers, there is a focus of improving infrastructure in the school, quality of education, the access and all of this is neatly tied up in Nigeria. We are here to work with the government and private sector partners so that the best practices used in India can be used here. All the period of time, we have investing in developing this content, we want to work with the stakeholders to customise and mobilise solutions so that they are fit for the people of Nigeria aimed at improving the learning outcome and quality education.
How far have you gone in meeting the various states government and agencies on this and how acceptable is it?
We have been here for about five years now and it has been a fantastic experience for us. It is heartening to see that the policy makers are matching in line with the global best practices. They have welcomed our work and the innovation we have brought. We have had discussion stakeholders with the government, private sector and bodies working on the curriculum and what we have gotten is that all of us want to work together to improve the quality of education and overall human capability to deliver education and training.
What successes have you recorded so far?
We are working with our Nigerian counterpart here. We have a technology called KYAN which is the knowlegede vehicle. It is a fantastic innovator, multi-media device which packages the projector, the computer, DVD player, inbuilt audio system. It comes in package and loaded with modern education contents. It has multi-media modules for primary schools, junior and senior secondary schools which have been aligned to the curriculum. We have done some projects in Borno State where 500 of this unit have been supplied to them. We are also working with other partners like the National Institute of Building under the system project where some of our contents which are for the adult learners and for vocational training are being deployed now. It is likely that 10,000 learners will be using and benefiting on that content and will be benefiting with the training programmes which is in-line with the national occupation standard. We have done group of contents for those areas, the school segment and that of vocation segment.
Most teachers are uncomfortable using technological devices. We have packaged all these different gadgets into one package and into one device which makes it easier and simple for the teachers to use. One button and the class room is transformed into an interacting teaching experience.
Lot of the content the teacher rely on is video based which does not have interactive capability. We have been able to create this tool which will empower the teacher to use it in a more interactive way. Now, a class room is not about delivering a lecture, it is about activities, presentation, do it yourself activities, assessment and other important features.
What do you expect in the next few years?
Our expectation is simple. We want to work with schools, private institutions, and the government to share our best practices and success. Today, the KYAN technology is available in about 18,000 schools in India. Majority of them are government schools. We have our contents which is going out to about 26,000 schools, including some bi tribal changes as well . These are tried and tested products, which have been successful for improving the learning outcome for more than ten years now. We will like to give the country what we have so that it will build on that rather than starting from the scratch. This is possible because of the content and similarities we have.
Do you partners in Nigeria?
We have many partners in Nigeria because education is large and Menco international is one of the major partner headed by Rajan Menori. We are working with all of the partners to collaborate so that we can develop better modules. It has really been interesting few weeks with our partners in Nigeria.
How accessible and how long will It take the teacher to learn how to use the technology?
It is very easy. It depends on the learning level. For some people, we say do 10 days. We do a comprehensive programme for teachers which is on the technology and the method of teaching with the technology. Many teachers back home, have little knowledge of computers and for them, we take them through every bit. It is comprehensive and we spend a lot of time to see that the teacher learn how to use it.
Can a family access the technology?
This is a full technology. Once the children use it in school, it comes down to the parents because they will be wondering why their children are suddenly so interested in going to school. Why their marks are improving, and also interaction with teachers, their are also group work and and learning about team work, projects and home works which are activity based, automatically, the community will accept it.
On a general note, is there anything you would want us to know?
Yes, it is very important we explain where we are coming from. We as a country have about 1.2 billion people of which 60 per cent are young people. We have the same challenges as Nigerians, we have challenges of access to education, quality of education and teacher training. We have been able to become a trusted partner to the government because we have revised the old programme. We are offering a programme which is 360 degree system which help to build the school as an ecosystem. This helps children by offering them this change learning paradigm. We are also proud of the fact that all our design and products are all feedback from various teachers. We are company that develops education solutions for the teachers which are being developed by the teachers. Once we provide this contents, and teachers anywhere have similar challenges and similar opportunities and responsibilities. We are very conscious of the fact that we can not just pick up one solution and paste here, so we want to customise our solutions according to the environment so that as we go on, it will be much more smoother and much more to explore together.
We are infrastructure developing company in India and are interested in large scale public/private partnership projects. We realise that there is need to build human infrastructure and human infrastructure development starts from a child in the school. Therefore, we stated working the government and the government owns the largest network of schools. Often, because of the various challenges like access, and lack of teachers, they are often neglected by the government. We began to partner with the government to show that we have the capability to deliver some programmes to develop the teachers and the students. We urge the government to guide us on what they want and we build a programme for it. We have anything and everything to carry out a programme and we are very hopeful and positive that in a few years, we would have gone far as we are setting up an office office in Nigeria with Menco International and hopefully, in the next few years, we will have many innovations to talk about.
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