Towards the end of 2021, we wanted to conduct a state-wide Coding Competition targeted at Primary and Secondary school students in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In respect to this, we began reaching out to primary and secondary schools in the state to allow their students participate in the competition.
The first obstacle we experienced was the lack of online presence for most schools. Rivers State has a lot of primary and secondary schools. However, only a little fraction of these schools have a website, a Google My Business page, or social media presence. This became even more challenging with the inability to get either the contact phone or email for the relevant persons or department in the schools. We had to resort to physical invitations for some of the schools that our team knew beforehand. As a tech company, we could not fully comprehend the fact that a 21st century business would not be visible and active online.
However, during our communications with the schools, we came to understand some of the reasons most of these schools do not have an online presence, prominent of which are lack of funds, as well as limited knowledge on the advantages of having a digital business.
As we proceeded with the competition, we experienced a major obstacle. Asetech Academy (Academy for Software Engineering and Technologies) which is our training arm uses globally approved software and curriculum in teaching coding to kids. However, some of the students who were actively learning coding in some schools were not able to understand or satisfactorily pass our entry level assessment. We reviewed the difficulty level of the assessments and were even more certain that the problem wasn’t the difficulty level of the tests. Rather, the problem was the knowledge of the students, as all our tests were age and class appropriate. The simple conclusion was that these students had supposedly been learning coding. However, the curriculum and systems used in teaching them were outdated and would not fit in today’s digital world.
On the other hand, some schools were not actively teaching their pupils and students computer coding, even with the presence of a well-stocked Computer Lab and a Computer Science/IT teacher. We learned that for some of them, coding was not a part of their computer class curriculum.
Off the back of these findings, we immediately halted the Inter school Coding Competition as there was no real competition amongst the schools or students due to the lack of interest in tech by some schools and parents, the lack of knowledge of the benefits in some cases, and the lack of funding for most, which meant these schools and its students were not on an even playing platform.
As an organisation with its foundations set in the enhancement of the community and youth development, we looked at the possible solution to this and birthed the MSO initiative, known fully as the My School Online, My School To The World initiative. We aim to achieve two major things with this initiative.
- Ensuring that at least 80% of primary and secondary school students in Rivers State are taught coding.
- To ensure that at least 100 schools in Rivers State have an online presence over the next 3 years.
Why is this Initiative Essential?
With the rapid digitization of nearly every sector and industry, the future is leaning towards technology. Already, more and more of the Nigerian youths are migrating towards working remotely for companies all over the world and earning more than the average Nigerian worker. The Nigerian children should be given the same opportunities as the children in any other part of the world, particularly in Europe, Asia and America. We are concerned about the future welfare of these children and as such, offer competent education that would equip primary and secondary school students with the relevant and scalable digital skills necessary for today’s world.
It’s no secret that the tech industry is at the forefront of innovation and earning power, eradicating the old system and giving millennials vastly different employment opportunities that require basic foundational knowledge of coding and robotics.
Giving pupils/students the chance to learn programming and robotics boosts not only their business and employability skills for tomorrow, it also gives them a starting chance for a vastly profitable future, rife with opportunities anywhere in the world.
How are we achieving this?
We aim to achieve this by establishing the Asetech Coding Club/After School Club Programme in the local ( private and state) schools in Rivers State, Nigeria. The coding clubs are well-structured with a curriculum that is tailored according to age and class. Our goal is to establish a Coding Club in all the schools in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGA in Rivers state, while working our way into other LGAs in the state.
Asetech Coding Club is a once-in-a-week, one to two-hours coding class taught by an expert and tailored for each class and age group. The course curriculum is designed as a four academic-years programme to ease the students into the world of tech, establish the root foundation of coding fundamentals, and develop them into confident, self-managing, independent and savvy techies whom can choose to fully venture into the tech industry via further education or self-learning. They can also retain the skills they’ve acquired over the years as a hobby through which they can make extra income or benefit their community. With this programme, they can do all at a very young age before they even decide what they want to do with their lives or what type of careers they want to have.
Now that puts our children on the same playing field as their counterparts in Europe, Asia and America. They can just as well secure jobs in Silicon Valley, or create innovative solutions for challenges we face in our country or around the world. The world is their oyster from that point on, and while we hope that it will be adopted as a compulsory subject in the school curriculum, for now it is being offered as an alternative subject for those interested which poses as a challenge. Fairexx Solutions bears the financial brunt for this with the parents only paying a token termly fee that is not enough for a monthly data plan.
Addressing the lack of Online Presence
Schools are a vital part of any society, responsible for educating the young minds that will in turn, build and become the future of that society. Schools are also an economic venture with a goal of making profit. Utilizing the digital market has many advantages that vastly outweighs the use of traditional media.
With well over 2,000 schools in Port Harcourt alone, it’s not an easy fit to stand out among the crowd. Utilizing traditional means of publicity can be tasking financially and quite frankly, schools need to have an online presence. How can parents know the choices available to them if the full spread of schools do not turn up in a simple google search? Statistics has it that 88% of people conduct online research first before making a buying decision. The first place a parent or guardian will check when looking for a school for their kids is google. The Google search console gets used up to 5.6 billion times per day. This does not even begin to highlight the need for a website not just for a school but for every business.
Aside from digital advertising opportunities which puts schools directly in the faces of parents and guardians (and is quite affordable as well), a website gives schools credibility and showcases them as up-to-date with the right qualities to educate a child in today’s modern world.
How are we achieving this?
The MSO Initiative offers every school the opportunity to build an online presence with the creation of a website and a Google My Business page at a very affordable rate.
This initiative bears the cost for the development of the website and gives every school access to pay for only the resources to be used in creating the website and the Google My Business page at a ridiculously low price.
Where we need your help.
Sponsorship, Partnership, Grants
While we have done as much as we can in carrying this initiative along backed by our passion for the community, we cannot do it alone. The MSO Initiative needs to thrive because it is focused on offering opportunities and economic growth to the people and businesses of Nigeria. While the Initiative is domiciled in Rivers State currently, we have goals of expanding to other states across Nigeria and Africa.
We are open to sponsorship, grants, and partnerships to facilitate this initiative and drive the economy of the nation to greater heights.