iNERD360 . EdFin MfB: 67% of schools mull digital education channel

EdFin Microfinance Bank (MfB), specialised bank focused on education financing, and US-based impact investor Gray Matters Capital have shared insights of its ‘Remote Schooling Readiness’ survey which showed that over 67 per cent of schools serving low income households are considering digital channels for education, despite challenges.
They also revealed that WhatsApp was the preferred platform of choice for teachers to engage with students, parents and collaborate among themselves.
These insights are based on responses from low cost private schools in Lagos in April 2020.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Data estimates that in Nigeria almost 40 million learners have been impacted across all education levels. To ensure continuity of education, education providers have identified technology as they key enabler for remote learning. However, the major challenge that remains to be surmounted for providers is how to serve the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, with low disposable income and poor access to digital services.
Despite these challenges, survey has revealed a clear demand and aspiration, from low cost schools, to use digital channels for education especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EdFin MfB – GMC Remote Schooling Readiness Survey, shoed that 67.8 per cent of schools are considering continuing operations via remote learning. Of the schools willing to take the online route, over 80 per cent seek technological assistance for setting up remote learning operations.
Also, nine per cent of the schools surveyed have initiated full-scale remote learning. Aside, 36 per cent have initiated partial remote learning (for selected classes and subjects) while 43 per cent are exploring remote learning tools to implement.Of those schools who have initiated remote learning, the highest number of virtual classes are being conducted for primary schools; 38 per cent.
Interestingly, nearly 44 per cent of the schools have indicated parents of students not yet open to remote learning for their children. This can be adduced to reasons such as low disposable income to access digital infrastructure and services (such as mobile phones, tablets, personal computers and internet services), and lack of tangibility associated with remote learning, among others.
Of the low-cost private schools surveyed, 21 per cent responded that their students do not have access to any digital device for online learning. Only 13 per cent of the schools had all their students equipped with an internet enabled device for online learning, while 63 per cent schools responded that only a few of their students had access to devices and good connectivity.
Besides, 19 per cent of the respondents had all their teachers equipped with digital devices to conduct remote learning, while 66.2 per cent responded that only some of their teachers had digital devices.
Core Competencies of Teachers for Online Classes showed that less than 21 per cent of the private schools surveyed had teachers with all the skills needed for conducting remote classes, while 62.8 per cent had some of the basic skills.
WhatsApp is the preferred platform of choice for teachers to engage with students (63 per cent), parents (71 per cent) and for collaboration with other teachers (74 per cent) trouncing Zoom, Google Classroom and others.
Financial Wherewithal data showed that 23.6 per cent of schools planning to charge fees for home schooling while 66.4 per cent of schools willing to avail loans to equip teachers and students with digital devices for remote learning.
Speaking on the survey insights, Managing Director/CEO CEO, EdFin Microfinance Bank said, “Our survey is aimed at helping us get a deeper understanding of the constraints faced by low-cost schools in making their online transition. This is a time for smartphone, laptop and tablet makers, besides telecom service providers and education finance players like us to calibrate our offerings to tap into the opportunity presented by the low-cost school segment of Nigeria.”

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