…Supporting creative learning through innovative approaches for students and teachers across Nigeria
TUE 11 MAY, 2021-theGBJournal- Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative held a digital launch for its E-Learning Platform. Since its inception, the initiative has prioritized non-conventional ways of teaching and learning. Last year, in a bid to ensure continuity in learning during the COVID-19 induced school closures, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative responded with innovation providing alternative learning materials for pupils across Nigeria in rolling out of the “My Story of Water” worksheets.
This problem solving and innovative approach formed the bedrock of its most recent learning solution; a digital platform, fivecowries.online, that merges education with community engagement. The platform allows users, both young children and teachers to access learning materials online including the digital versions of worksheets that were released last year.
To introduce this platform to Nigeria and the world, Five cowries Art Education Initiative hosted a virtual launch which had in attendance several benefactors of the social enterprise including the Honourable Commissioner of Education Folashade Adefisayo, Charles Courdent, the Director of Alliance Française and Friederike Möschel Director of the Goethe Institute–among other notable guests.
At the event, the platform which is set up for students of all ages to log on and immerse themselves in learning activities catered to their needs was met with high praise. Not solely for its innovativeness but for its timeliness.
The user-friendly platform has been built with funding from the International Relief Fund of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institute as well as in conjunction with Alliance Francaise Nigeria, Goethe Institut and UNICEF.
For Friedericke of the Goethe Institute, securing funding from the German government for the project was necessary because of the platforms ability to reach pupils not just in Lagos but nationwide. All these different strategic partners have been crucial in supporting this project as they have all contributed their relevant knowledge and expertise in ensuring that the platform is as inclusive as possible.
Transmedia, a UK digital consultancy also came on board to support the development of the platform and bringing the vision to life.
According to Transmedia Communications, “working with acclaimed Nigerian artist Polly Alakija, it was immediately apparent that a solution was needed to meet her vision for creative play and learning to be available to every child in Nigeria, no matter what their background.” As such, the platform needed to be easy to maintain, scalable and available across any device and on any type of internet connection, fast or slow.
The Five Cowries collaboration with Transmedia is a true recognition of what can be achieved when you combine a passion for the arts, deep technical understanding and a commitment to education for all.
This need for inclusivity and accessibility; in order to reach some of the most vulnerable children in society is made manifest through the Initiative’s partnership with the Lagos State Government.
Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative has consistently supported the Lagos State government and because of this symbiotic relationship, the Honourable Commissioner of Education Folashade Adefisayo, who gave the opening remarks at the launch spoke on the importance of culture and education.
Adefisayo said that “The integration of culture into worksheets in various subjects including Mathematics and the Sciences reinforces the integral nature of life itself and the linkages that occur across subjects and disciplines. The ability to engage on this digital platform can only deepen the learning process.”
Art and creativity cannot exist in silos and the beauty of the platform is that it can be used independently from schools thus further enriching the community impact. The activities address some of the major challenges in our communities and how we engage with our environment. It takes the real-life ongoing issues children’s face and extracts pertinent learnings.
For Hakeem Subair, the CEO of 1 million teachers, “The Environmental Education component of the Five Cowries program connects students to the world around them, teaching them about both natural and built environments, including raising awareness of issues impacting the environment upon which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it.”
By introducing this digital learning platform, which complements the worksheets and the current curriculum, this project is leading the way in changing the narrative of education and teaching in Nigeria. Five Cowries Initiative has partnered with Alliance Francaise in Lagos to translate the activities from English into several languages. Alliance Française is keen to support the promotion of national languages such as Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa further cementing the allegiance to embracing our cultural identity in the pursuit of knowledge. Beyond our local languages, there are calls for translation into more African languages including Swahili, Zulu, Arabic and Portuguese.
It is impossible to overestimate the role of education in a functional society. For millions of Nigerian pupils, access to engaging and useful educational tools has been a major challenge. For this reason, it is apparent that initiatives like Fivecowries.online stand to bridge the gap. The platform supports themes that are at the core of the organisation’s mantra, learning through art provides an enriching experience capable of equipping students with the creativity needed to navigate the world. Fivecowries.online is setting the pace for something for exciting developments in education; not just in Nigeria but potentially across the continent.