AS the availability of broadband services improves across Nigeria, one key sector that requires strategic focus is education. Against this backdrop, Main One is taking up the challenge by efforts towards ubiquitous broadband deployment in tertiary institutions across Nigeria.
Indeed, advancing the quality of education is a pivotal step towards the development of the economy and people of any nation. In recognition of this reality and the vital role broadband services can play in stemming the decline in Nigeria’s educational standards over the past 20 years, Main One Cable Company recently increased its focus on ensuring that educational institutions and their students are well connected in order to better compete both locally and internationally.
The influence of broadband capacity, as seen in advanced nations, permeates every sphere of human endeavor. Case in point is the United States of America, since 2011 where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently reiterated the developmental role of broadband, in helping the USA lead the world in 21st century educational innovation.
This has resulted in several programs such as ‘Learning On-the-Go”, a project that provides up to $9 million for select schools and libraries to support off-campus wireless Internet connectivity for mobile learning devices, ‘Super-Fast Fiber’, which is aimed at bringing affordable, super-fast fiber connections to America’s schools and libraries using E-Rate subsidy funds and unused fiber lines already in place across the country.
With these fiber networks, schools and libraries can provide students and communities with cutting-edge connectivity, while saving millions of dollars. Another program is “School Spots”, that allows schools to provide Internet access to the local community after students go home. With affordable fiber, School Spots serves as a major step toward the National Broadband Plan’s goal of connecting an anchor institution in every community to affordable 1 Gbps broadband.
Recognizing the imperative of broadband access towards achieving the transformation so urgently required in Nigeria’s educational sector, Main One has commenced the process of integrating Nigeria’s higher institutions to other global institutions of higher learning through the deployment of broadband Internet capacity.
This initiative by Main One has drawn applause and commendations from the various benefiting schools across Nigeria. Reviewing the sector performance recently, three prominent higher institutions of learning among others namely: American University of Nigeria, Yola; University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Lagos Business School were noted to have directly benefited from the efforts.
According to Chief Executive Officer of Main One, Funke Opeke, “our effort is hinged on strengthening global competitiveness of the Nigerian student through better access to information and the need to get Nigeria’s educational institutions relevant on the global stage through improved access to ICT”.
The connectivity solution provided to the American University of Nigeria, Yola, is already contributing significantly to AUN’s academic activities by improving online learning and teaching, as well as supporting administrative processes on campus. Speaking at a press conference, President of the school, Margee Ensign expressed delight that the network initiative has assisted AUN in the implementation of its mission as a development university. She further stated that the initiative will improve significantly the level of the educational system and the knowledge base of students; thereby increasing hope for the country. Indeed the school gained educational repute when Google discovered that a significant proportion of Internet traffic to its site from Nigeria came from the University.
In the same vein, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the Lagos Business School (LBS) of the Pan African University have benefited from this initiative by Main One. These developments have enabled the institutions leverage the use of ICT in administrative processes as well as enable improved access to the Internet for students, thus providing more learning opportunities and facilitating digital inclusion.
Reacting to the connection to Main One’s network, the Dean, School of Media & Communication Studies, LBS, Prof Emevwo Biakolo stated that this singular initiative from Main One would further assist the institution and its students deepen their research works and broaden the scope of their studies.
It is indeed commendable that these Educational institutions recognize the Internet as the locus of cutting-edge research and decided that it is critical for the benefit of their students. The Internet, which was developed and used as a research tool on college campuses from the 1980s, has contributed to making education more interactive.
The open content curriculum adopted by contemporary tertiary institutions has contributed to an open, mobile and more convenient learning. Experts believe that as an increasingly large amount of course content migrates online, the nexus of broadband Internet and education will expedite the paradigm shift of universities from being mere suppliers of educational content, toward its position as a provider of an overall learning experience.
A further projected outcome is that widespread availability and adoption of broadband will spur the development of alternative, more cost effective institutions for higher education as already noted in the growing number of international distance learning programs available to Nigerian students.
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