By Oluwatobi Opusunju
School is no more brick and mortar. Leveraging on technology and disruptive innovation, a Lagos based EdTech (education technology) company has been promoting a revolutionary mobile learning platform: Passnownow.com.
Passnownow.com currently boasts of about 65,000 teachers who use the platform and users in at least 33 out of 36 states in the country. The figure, verifiable via Google Analytics, indicates the steady growth of mobile technology enabled education in Nigeria. Passnownow.com plans to up the game with sign-ons in the months ahead in revolutionary push to alter Nigeria’s educational landscape for good.
Passnownow.com is a pioneer effort to digitize Nigeria’s high school curriculum as an open source, available for students, teachers and parents all over the country. Since it opened for business in 2013, the EdTech company has focused on disrupting the educational sector to create ready access to learning tools.
According to the CEO and Founder of Passnownow.com, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, one can easily describe the platform as the Khan Academy or Coursera of Africa. It has created an avenue for underserved students and teachers, especially those in rural communities, to get seamless access to education contents from the comfort of their personal computers (PC) or mobile devices.
For over five years, the company has offered students and teachers across the country ready access tools to education content at a cost that is next to nothing. It has a flexible payment plan and users can opt to pay for a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half year or yearly plan at a flat rate of 200 Naira per day and 10,000 Naira per year.
The portal also has a feature which mobilizes and fosters an online community of students to meet and learn from new friends; there are about 34,220 active members on the platform. It also provides users with grammar tips to aid their grasp of the English language among other things.
Nigeria’s education sector has been in decline with falling education budgets, old curricula and a poorly motivated teaching staff. While authorities Kenya and some other African countries are increasingly digitizing their educational system to create more open and seamless learning environment for students, the education system in Nigeria is in chaos and largely analogue for majority of students who still have no access to qualitative learning tools.
Passnownow.com is changing all that to create easy access to quality educational contents.
More than 10.5 million Nigerians of school age are out-of-school, according to statistics by UNICEF. This is the world’s highest number. With private sector led initiatives such as Passnownow.com, redemption may be at the corner for the education sector of Africa’s most populous nation of some 198 million people.
The Passnownow.com platform is leveraging on the increasing growth of the internet and the upswing adoption of smartphones in Nigeria, where about 65% of high-school students, particularly in the big urban centres, can access internet enabled devices.
“What we primarily do is to use technology to digitize, democratize and distribute access to education contents to underserved students and teachers in Nigeria,” Akerele-Ogunsiji told IT Edge News in Lagos.
“So what we have done is to take the entire Nigerian education curriculum content and make it available on the internet— all subject from JSS 1 to SSS 3, first term to third term; with assessment questions and answers; all JAMB, WAEC and NECO past questions and answers, for the last five years have been on the platform,” she added.
Akerele-Ogunsiji said the idea behind the platform is geared towards fostering a self-oriented learning environment where young ones are capable to learn outside the four walls of the physical building and a system that has failed them in terms of access to rich and qualitative educational contents.
According to her, one of its crucial success story is that some students whose parents cannot afford to pay their school fees, learn on Passnownow.com and go straight to sit for Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) without going to any school.
“Today our schools are short-staffed, students are taught obsolete curriculum and the world has moved. How do you expect them to compete with their colleague in Canada, Finland, America and Germany? You can’t face today’s challenges with yesterday’s knowledge. So this is where technology comes in and that is what we are trying to do with Passnownow.com, to make sure that content is available online all the time,” she said.