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UNICEF, Ericsson to Map Internet in Nigerian Schools 




By Adedapo Adesanya

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Swedish multinational networking and communications company, Ericsson, have collaborated to provide internet connectivity mapping to educational institutions in Nigeria.

In a statement, the Country Manager of Ericsson Nigeria, Mr Sean Cryan, said that the goal of the project with the theme Mapping school internet connectivity would help to bridge the digital divide by providing internet access for the next generation.

“We are planning to share the list of the first 10 countries in the fourth quarter of this year, while the remaining countries will be communicated in 2021,” he said.

He added that the project would start before the end of 2023, adding that the initial take-off would also depend on where their teams would be allowed to travel and operate safely.

According to him, digital transformation, undoubtedly, impacts various sectors and organisations by helping them leverage beneficial opportunities that come with new technologies.

“Mapping the internet connectivity landscape in schools and their surrounding communities will be of great importance, given its vital role.

“Connectivity mapping is a primary source for providing children with the necessary means and capabilities to exploit the opportunities provided by the advantages of digital learning,” he said.

He said that the partnership falls within the framework of the “Giga” initiative that was launched in 2019 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in cooperation with UNICEF.

Mr Cryan added that it had the primary goal of connecting all schools on the planet to the internet.

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The country manager also highlighted the benefits of mapping to governments and the private sector.

He said that it would help them design and deploy digital interventions to support uninterrupted learning for children and young people adding that the notion that some internet users employed the use of the facility from their homes while many others use it at school.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that over 53 per cent of the world’s population used the internet in 2019, up from under 17 per cent in 2005.

“Although we have broad statistics on internet usage, the mapping will help us to understand how access by schools fits into that and where the gaps are.

“Ericsson’s vision calls for us to connect the unconnected because we believe that access to communication is a basic human need.

“We also believe that people in the rural parts of Africa will benefit greatly from mobile connectivity, which greatly increases access to information and services that support health, education and small businesses.’’

According to the Country Manager, digital connectivity is one of the ‘Global Breakthroughs’ which the Giga project is looking to address.

“The partnership between UNICEF and Ericsson will take the first vital step in mapping and understanding the connecting gap,” he said.

Mr Cryan also speaking on the scope of the project, said that Ericsson had committed resources for data engineering and data science capacity to accelerate the mapping.

He said that the company would specifically assist with the collection, validation, analysis, monitoring and visual representation of real-time school connectivity data.

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“Ericsson is the first private sector partner to join this initiative and does so as a Global UNICEF Partner for School Connectivity Mapping.

“Collected data will enable governments and the private sector to design and deploy digital solutions that enable learning for children and young people.

“Additionally, Ericsson will engage its extensive customer base in the Giga initiative to further advance this mission,” he said.

The Country Manager further added that the total value of the partnership between Ericsson and UNICEF would be determined over time, adding that they were yet to arrive at the amount of time and resources needed to support the project.

He also said that both organisations were still working together to assess the locations where the programme would likely have the greatest impact.

He said that this would afford them the opportunity of taking the advantage of the information, choice and opportunities that it would bring.

He also added that Ericsson had been working on how to provide communication services and solutions to challenges facing ICT users since its inception.

He said that this had been across network segments so as to make the operations of telecom service providers more efficient and bolster their digital transformation.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile broadband subscription penetration in the Sub-Saharan Africa region is approximately 30 per cent and is forecasted to reach around 50 per cent by the end of 2025.

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Also citing a Mobile Economy 2018 report by Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), it was noted that the 49 per cent mobile subscription of Nigeria’s 196 million people is expected to reach 55 per cent by 2025.

Mr Cryan also spoke on the strategic importance of Nigeria to the projects. He said that with Nigeria currently holding one of the highest numbers of mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa, superior network performance is imperative.

According to him, Ericsson is committed to partnering local service providers in meeting the growing demands of subscribers for an enriched broadband experience.

He also said that the importance of establishing a high-quality mobile broadband service in Nigeria cannot be overestimated.

“It opens up opportunities for people to improve their productivity locally and fuels new businesses which feed into boosting the economic growth of the country.

“In collaboration with Ericsson, local service providers have rolled out an LTE network that has had a significant impact on the user experience in Nigeria.

“Download and upload speeds in the completed areas are exceptional and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Nigerians can now experience a truly world-class data service with faster web browsing and downloads,” he said.

Furthermore, the Country Manager said that for the company to deliver sustainable impact, it had begun to collaborate with various partners to facilitate societal impact and provide equal opportunities.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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JAMB Generates N5.9bn from 2021 UTME, Direct Entry Forms




By Adedapo Adesanya

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has generated N5,887,628,900.00 from the sale of forms for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) examination to admission seekers into the nation’s tertiary institutions.

The cumulative figure was contained in the Financial Inflow column of the board’s weekly bulletin of April and May editions of 2021.

The registration for the exams started on April 10 nationwide and ended on May 29, this year with the exception of few candidates with special cases, who were given an extension of time to register.

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The breakdown showed that 1,338,687 candidates registered for the UTME while 75,328 registered for the DE exam this year.

The examinations commenced on Saturday, June 19 and will end on Monday, July 5 in over 777 computer-based test centres nationwide.

The figures from the board’s bulletin showed that it generated N2,045,497,450.00 in the first few weeks when the sales of registration instruments opened to UTME applicants on April 10.

From the April 27 edition of the bulletin, the board said it raked in N739,050,000.00 from the sales of e-pins.

A weekly breakdown of the figures from the May 3 edition of the bulletin showed that the board generated N663,250,000.00 from selling e-registration pins.

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In the May 10 edition, the figures showed that the board generated N682,200,000.00 revenue from sales of registration instruments for the examination.

According to the figures from the bulletin of May 17, edition, the board raked in N833,800,000.00 from the sales of e-registration pins.

Also, between May 23 and 31 edition, the board generated N810,131,450.00 and N113,700,000.00 from sales of e-registration pins.

Following Professor Ishaq Oloyede’s appointment as Registrar/Chief Executive of the body in August 2016, as part of its transparency and accountability goals, the board has been making returns in billions into the federation account.

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In 2019, the board generated N5 billion from the conduct of UTME but remitted N3 billion to the coffers of the federal government after the government asked the board to invest N2 billion to enhance its operations.

Its highest remittance so far was in 2018 when it remitted N7.8 billion revenue generated from the conduct of 2018 UTME to the coffers of the federal government.

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Oyeleye Unveils Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles



Oyeleye Every Beginner's Chess Book

By Dipo Olowookere

A book aimed to deepen the understanding of chess among youngsters and professionals has been launched by an International Chess Federation (FIDE) licensed Chess in School Instructor, Mr Olawale Oyeleye.

The book titled Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles was unveiled at a virtual event recently to chess players, organisers, arbiters, coaches and corporate Nigerian.

The author of the book said at the unveiling that he was inspired to write the book when he noticed that young chess players in Nigeria and Africa lacked materials to learn more about the board game.

According to him, he nursed the idea for nine years before coming up with Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles, expressing confidence that the book will benefit the readers because of the extensive research he did.

“I took time to research on the essentials of what is needed for beginners and today, we have a book which is full of illustrations to make the teaching of chess in schools and in clubs easy for youngsters,” he said.

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Also speaking at the launch, the Director of TheJohnFawole Award and Bruvchessmedia, Fawole John Oyeyemi, commended the author for the piece, recommending its adoption as teaching material in schools.

“Chess books written by Nigerian authors are few. Mr Oyeleye has given us a book that speaks to the basics of the board game.

“You have done something great in the chess world. This book should be adopted by schools for their chess learning programmes.

With this book, Mr Oyeleye had moved chess a step further and it would also become a popular board game in Nigeria,” he said.

On her part, the ex-president of the Chess Players Association of Nigeria (CPAN), Ms Ayokanmi Ajayi, praised Mr Oyeleye for his immense contribution to the game in Nigeria, saying, “You have pushed forward the frontiers of chess with the text. This is a proper chess book to educate the Nigerian child. It is affordable and easy to understand.”

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A member of the FIDE Athlete Commission and Chairman of ACC Players Commission, International Master Odion Aikhoje, commended the author for putting together a laudable book on chess.

He said the positive mindset of the author motivated him to see the project through despite the trying times that we are in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The book is dedicated to explaining the game of chess and talking about the benefits of chess. Previously encountered chess books are technical books but the extra illustration by the author can make one know more about the game.

The book helps to visualize and calculate the moves on the board and this piece of work will help develop players. A properly presented book will aid the learning of the game,” he stated.

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The President of Togo Chess Federation and former secretary to FIDE, Enyonam Noel Fumey, said the book is a marvel and he wishes that all Nigerian educational authors will use it as an introduction to the game.

He charged the writer of the book to ensure that the work is translated into French so that Francophone-speaking countries can also benefit from it.

Mr Oyeleye, who is married to Mrs Caroline Adedoyin, is also the author of Levels 1-6 Chess Workbooks powered by Pedachess Educational Services Ltd.

He is an Accountant, National Arbiter, Tournament Director, Chess Trainer, Journalist, Public Relation Officer for CPAN since 2017 till date.

He was awarded the Arbiter of the year in 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively, and awarded the Tournament Director of the year 2018.

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Nexford University Raises $10.8m for Education Accessibility



Nexford University

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nexford University, an online learning platform that offers next-generation learning experiences, has secured a $10.8 million Series A fund.

The funding round was led by Dubai-based VC Global Ventures and other investors including Future Africa’s new thematic fund (focused on education), angel investors, family offices and unnamed VCs from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Dubai, Switzerland, Qatar, Nigeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The latest round brings the total funds raised by the company to $15.3 million, following a $4.5 million seed funding gotten in 2019.

The online school offers undergraduate degrees in business administration; 360° marketing; Artificial Intelligence & automation; building a tech startup; business analytics; business in emerging markets; digital transformation; e-commerce; and product management.

Its graduate degrees are business administration, advanced AI, e-commerce, hyperconnectivity, sustainability, and world business. Students study at their own pace once they get admitted into the school

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The tuition structure is different from traditional universities. Its accredited degrees cost between $3,000 to $4,000 paid in monthly instalments.

In Nigeria, for instance, an MBA costs about $160 a month, while a bachelor’s degree costs $80 a month. The faster a learner graduates, the less they pay.

Nexford University has learners from 70 countries, with Nigeria being its biggest market. The school also has blue-chip partnerships with Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning, and IBM to provide access to tools, courses, and programs to improve the learning experience.

Speaking on the development, Mr Fadl Al Tarzi, CEO of Nexford University, “In 2021, it is not acceptable for less than 10 per cent of the world population to have a college degree, or for student debt in the US to be over $1.6 trillion. Now, with additional funding, we can invest in the technology and teams required to address these challenges.”

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Adding his input, Mr Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa’s founder and general partner, called the company a game-changer for higher education in Africa because it focused on the future of learning.

“During the pandemic, while many universities in Nigeria were shut down due to labour disputes, Nexford was already delivering an innovative and affordable new model of online higher education designed for a skills-based economy,” Mr Aboyeji said.

On his part, Mr Noor Sweid, general partner at Global Ventures said, “We are thrilled to partner with Fadl and the Nexford team on their journey toward expanding access to universal quality higher education in emerging markets.”

Launched in 2019 by Mr Fadl Al Tarzi, Nexford University is filling affordability and relevance gaps by providing access to quality and affordable education.

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Nexford University is a Washington-based, tech-enabled institution that leverages machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to create a data and skills-driven curriculum.

The university was founded on the beliefs that a lack of education is the root cause of most world challenges and that people should be able to access economic opportunities irrespective of physical location.

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