• Educational system struggling with outdated curricula — Isaac Oladipupo

    Educational system struggling with outdated curricula isaac oladipupo - nigeria newspapers online
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    I grew up in the Alagbado area of Lagos State, where my family of four shared a close bond. Our family consisted of my father, my mother, my elder brother and I.

    I started my university journey at the Lagos State University, where I studied Management Technology. During my university years, I also worked at Genevieve Magazine, where I learnt from the remarkable Betty Irabor.

    By day, I would hustle from Ojo (where is LASU is situated) to Ikoyi, interviewing public figures. By night, I would immerse myself in my studies. After my first degree, I bagged a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Lagos.

    As someone who truly values continuous learning, especially after launching Afrilearn, I took major courses at Harvard on Online Teaching Strategies. I also took courses at the Product School in the United States of America, focusing on Software Product Management among others.

    It all began with a simple experiment – an online portal offering free access to past exam questions for students. The response was overwhelming and eye-opening. It revealed a glaring gap and a tremendous need for accessible educational resources online. Sharing this compelling vision with my childhood friend, Gabriel Olatunji-Legend, was a pivotal moment as we both experienced the educational challenges faced by students in Nigeria and across Africa firsthand. We witnessed how quality education often remained out of reach, inaccessible, and boring for many young Africans. The high levels of illiteracy, poor academic performance, and shattered dreams were undeniable.

    In response, we knew there was an urgent need for a solution, and technology offered the best opportunity to bridge this educational gap for generations to come. In 2019, we founded the company with a daring vision— to make affordable, world-class education accessible to Africans everywhere. Our personal experiences and a profound sense of duty to our nation, our continent and the global community served as the driving force behind the birth of the brand.

    Starting the company had its share of challenges. We had to dig into our pockets to kick things off, as finding the right team for top-notch content was our priority. We also experienced tech glitches early on, but it only fueled our determination to get better. There was also the task of introducing digital learning to the African audience.

    While many platforms offer educational content, our personalised learning approach is distinctively rooted in understanding the unique challenges faced by young Africans. Our lessons go beyond rote learning; they are interactive and game-like, featuring relatable characters that resonate with our audience.

    Users can explore an extensive curriculum-based notes library. Also, our engaging video lessons align with national standards, including free coding lessons in popular programming languages. Moreover, our tools empower learners to track their progress with real-time analytics. But, what makes us most proud is our ability to significantly improve test scores for a vast majority of our users.

    For us, reaching our target audience in the online space is all about connecting through the power of storytelling. Social media has been instrumental for us, not just as a promotional tool, but as a space to engage, listen, and co-create with our users. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter allow us to share valuable tips, success stories, gather feedback, and amplify our community’s voice. At the moment, we are looking to collaborate with influencers and partnerships with educational institutions to further expand our reach. Finally, our users themselves have become our most influential advocates, sharing their  experiences and successes, creating organic growth. It is a blend of technology and genuine human connection that has enabled us to reach and make an impact on our target audience.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, we swiftly responded to the closure of schools across Nigeria by launching an initiative, which ensured that students had access to primary and secondary education content online, addressing the sudden surge in demand for online learning. It wasn’t just about adapting to market conditions; it was about supporting our community when they needed us the most. The overwhelming response and love we received were priceless.

    I recall my co-founder’s call, waking me with the news that the platform had gone viral. Since then, we have experienced unprecedented growth.

    Leveraging the power of our stellar team, we have evolved into a gamified app, where students can learn and earn while achieving improved learning outcomes. This pivot has allowed us to continue meeting the evolving needs of our users and enhance their educational experience.

    We have built a culture where every comment, critique or compliment from our users is valued. Our team regularly gathers this feedback, highlighting urgent issues and patterns. Once identified, we brainstorm solutions and implement them swiftly. It is this loop of listening, adapting and improving that ensures we remain not just relevant, but beloved.

    While the beauty of our platform lies in its digital reach, connecting students across Africa, we do recognise the value of physical touch points. In the future, we are looking to explore community centres where students can access our platform, engage in group studies, or even get mentoring. For us, it is about blending the best of both online and offline worlds for holistic learning.

    Success in the public sector requires a blend of cultural sensitivity, strategic thinking, and expertise. One must also possess excellent communication skills to unify diverse perspectives and a deep-rooted understanding of the target audience’s needs, dreams, and aspirations.

    While Nigeria’s educational system has historical strength, it also grapples with outdated curricula, infrastructure gaps, and teacher training issues. To bring about genuine change, we need to blend traditional education with modern technological approaches, ensuring that the curriculum remains globally competitive yet locally relevant. Collaboration between educational bodies, tech platforms, the private sector and industry experts can significantly enhance the quality and reach of education.

    While we are a work in progress, our progressive successes stem from the ability to integrate local context with cutting-edge technology. Our platform’s personalisation, offering content that caters to individual learning curves, and the gamified lessons made learning enjoyable and effective. I would say our efforts to make education engaging and accessible, especially in remote parts of Nigeria, alongside the interactive and inclusive nature of our product played a crucial role in earning us the accolade.

    The tech industry undoubtedly holds the potential for significant financial rewards, and tech solutions have brought immense value to our lives. However, it is crucial to dispel the notion of automatic wealth. While the tech sector can indeed be highly lucrative, it requires dedication, skills, innovation, and a keen understanding of market dynamics. Not everyone in tech attains substantial wealth, but the industry does offer abundant opportunities for growth and financial success to those who excel and adapt to its ever-changing landscape.

    While there are many success stories, countless startups face challenges and don’t survive the competitive landscape. So, while it is a space of immense opportunity, it demands dedication, resilience, and strategic insight.

    My family is my sanctuary. I am fortunate to share my life with a wife who is breathtakingly beautiful and also my closest confidante. We are blessed with a daughter, and we spend time cooking together, dancing, and travelling.

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