VANTAGE’S MISSION: PRESENTING A PURPOSEFUL, HOLISTIC AND ALL-INCLUSIVE NATIONAL DISCOURSE ABOUT UPGRADING THE PRESENT QUALITY OF NIGERIA’S EDUCATION CONTENT, INSTRUCTORS AND INFRASTRUCTURE TO INCREASE THE PRODUCTIVITY POTENTIAL OF OUR CHILDREN AS THEY COMPETE IN THE GLOBAL SPACE BOTH NOW AND IN THE FUTURE. “
VANTAGE 2 THEME: SMART TEACHER, SMART FUTURE
VANTAGE 2 will have facilitators from government, education ministries, the corporate world, public and private schools education stakeholders, school owners, teachers and the general public,
Expected Audience: 200 people
Advertisers: You’re welcome. There will be a healthy exchange of ideas and merchandise at the event
Date: 23rd October, 1019, 10am prompt
Venue: Avital Suites and Resort, 15, Sam Shonibare St, Surulere, Lagos
The aim of the School Owners Forum (SOF) Innovation Summit is to present a purposeful, holistic and all-Inclusive national discourse about upgrading the present quality of Nigeria’s Education content, instructors and infrastructure in order to increase the productivity potential of our children so they can compete favourably in the global space, both now and in the future.
The idea is to have policy makers from government, people from the academia and people from industries other than education come together to discuss the conformation of Nigeria’s education content (otherwise known as curriculum), quality of instructors (teachers) and then the available infrastructure, to levels capable and sufficient for raising children ready for the present global competition. We believe that learning should be for productivity and not just mere activity that ends in the school
On Wednesday, 19th of July, 2018, SOF convened VANTAGE 1 – the first Education Innovation Summit in recent times. The event was held at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos and was themed:
Enhancing Nigeria’s Education Content To Prepare Today’s Children For The Jobs Of The Future.
The event had in attendance, the Office of the Lagos State Quality Assurance and other stakeholders in the Education Sector. Facilitators included
1. Professor Monday Ubangha – Dean, Faculty of Education, Unilag
2. Dr Yewande Ntekim-Rex of the Department Of English Language, Unilag,
3. Ambassador Roy – Security Consultant
4. Charles Okeibunor – Lawyer and Founder, IRMP Consulting
5. David Adeniji – Convener, SOF & VANTAGE
One of our conclusions from this summit was that Teaching will become a high paying job of the future because contrary to what will happen in most other sectors where technology and innovation is vastly taking over the jobs currently trending e.g. banking and manufacturing, more technology will simply mean more smart teachers to teach those technologies and innovations to make them have meaningful impacts to the overall intention of introducing them. We understood however, from that summit, that Technology is not all that is needed for teachers to be smart and future compliant. Attitudes, communication, Leadership & innovation are as important as digital smartness.
These conclusions at VANTAGE 1 gave birth to SMATAC.COM – Smart Teachers Academy. These conclusions are the issues for discussion at the forthcoming VANTAGE 2
We observed a saddening development in the education sector and this is a result of decades of neglect and complacence towards the super-significant nature of education to the life of a race.
Competent teachers are in short supply.
Not because people are not studying education as a field, but because we as a people have paid little or no attention to research and so we’ve arrived at a future where others have left. Our education system of yesterday focused on raising people to solve problems of yesterday, so here we are today and we have teachers who have not been trained to create a tomorrow in the children they rear. Even worse is the obvious lacuna we see – Smart teachers are in short supply because teaching has become an alternative field, and the smart brains see no future in it.
This evidently is one of the reasons for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Quality Education. Quality Education can only be dispensed by quality teachers. And by quality teachers, SOF refers to her definition of a good teacher:
A good teacher is one who has over time developed (or is willing to develop) PATIENCE & RESOLVE to see children successful through whatever level or stage they meet the children, by imparting them sufficiently enough to get them flying at that stage, presenting them confidently to the next stage – even in spite of the uncertainties surrounding their vocation as a teacher. Uncertainties such as pay or personal pursuits.
SMATAC HAS IDENTIFIED 6 PILLARS
SMATAC has identified six major missing competencies in today’s teacher and with VANTAGE 2, We want to ignite a process to begin filling this vacuum through rigorous training and internship. Internship is necessary as days and hours of training alone most times do not groom the teachers all round.
THE 6 PILLARS OF SMATAC
1. Digital Smartness
2. Attitudes & Ethics
WE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BE PROUD OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION
I was once a teacher in one of Nigeria’s Largest Private Schools – An a-List school with campuses in Lagos and some other Nigerian states. Our parents were Captains of Industries, business tycoons, public servants or established clerics. When we teach the children in class, they have this cliché for insulting their friends who seem not-smart or not scoring well. They would say:
“What is wrong with you? Do you want to become a teacher?”
It pained my heart when they use these words. Not because of their bad attitude and such words against their friends, but because a much-needed dignity of our future (education & the teaching profession) is being lost. And that’s why we keep trying to catch up with the developed world. In the present-day Nigeria, the best students are drafted into oil companies, Communication Giants, and the financial sector. The second bests are left to opt for teaching jobs while the others look needlessly for jobs and most times end up becoming entrepreneurs or venture completely into the informal sector. In the future, this will be reversed. Don’t take my words for it. A revolution is already emerging in Nigeria’s educational space. SOF, SMATAC & VANTAGE are obviously part of that revolution, if not at the very fore-front of it.
The very fact that education is not given the primary attention it deserves and the best brains are not attracted into it makes us continue trying to catch up with the rest of the developed world.
We began to have problems when the whole discussion of education development got shifted from DYNAMIC CONTENT DEVELOPMENT AND DELIVERY to INFRASTRUCTURE and FINANCING. And by DYNAMIC CONTENT, I mean what we teach, putting into consideration changing global trends.
VANTAGE 2: OUR TARGET
SMATAC & VANTAGE are out to raise and certify a new generation of teachers equipped with 6 major skills of the 21st century needed to raise children adequately equipped for the jobs of the future –
1. Digital Smartness
2. Attitudes & Ethics,
As such, in VANTAGE 2, we will discuss the need and modalities for training and interning to certify teachers, especially the youthful generation within the ages of 20 a 45 years. This target age bracket again gives greater credence to the essence of the SMATAC initiative as these teachers can actually be seen as students and youths themselves.
The long term effect of this initiative is to release into schools, and indeed into the nation, a new and long awaited option and breed of teachers that will instantly fly the ongoing campaign of preparing today’s children for global competitiveness and equipping them to solve the challenges of the future. SMATAC aims to be a body certifying teachers on the 6 distinct competencies stated as its pillars.
AT VANTAGE 2, OUR PURSUIT
Teaching should be a calling and a passion before it becomes a career. SMATAC aims to recruit more smart teachers into the education sector So, in essence we’re saying, classroom or no classroom, everyone should become a good teacher!
SMATAC readily bears in mind that apart from the public sector need for more teachers, there’s also a strong private sector participation in the education sector and this no doubt has increased tremendously the demand for teachers and more so for smart ones. The private sector is profit driven and so there’s need for teachers who will not just teach well but contribute professionally to and sustain the going concern that earns them a worthy living. SMATAC Identifies rightly that every teacher is a leader, not in the mere sense of the word but in Attitude, Skills and ethics. So then we aim to equip the teacher with salient attitudes in dealing with various strata of Children, Parents and the environment.
THE 6 PILLARS OF SMARTNESS EXPLAINED
- DIGITAL SMARTNESS
After a decade of SOF’s research into the factors responsible for the decadence experienced in today’s education, we have discovered that top on the list is the issue of content. We have identified that it will be difficult to impart any modern knowledge content into children if the teachers are not equipped with the 21stcentury smart digital skills, mobile utility and basic ICT competencies.
At VANTAGE– our annual innovation summit, we observed that though technology will not replace teachers, technology will increase the volume of knowledge acquirable and eventually, teachers who use technology will replace those who do not. The very fact that technology cannot replace teachers, whereas it will replace many of the jobs we have now…is what makes teaching a sought after job of the future.
So to be digitally smart is to possess and effortlessly apply the current 21st century basic ICT, digital, mobile, internet and soft skills to whatever you do in education, be it teaching, learning, researching or selling. Teachers have been raised to pay little attention to digital smartness but more attention to methods and traditions. Digital smartness in the present day is inevitable for teachers as the children we teach could unsurprisingly be a step ahead of their teacher if care is not taken.
With a smartphone, lessons can be conceived, developed, researched, and prepared. The email technology is such that internet communication and networking is almost impossible without functional emails. Sound PowerPoint presentation skills are still a luxury for many teachers of, especially the older and more experienced ones. They simply don’t think it’s compulsory. I’m a teacher and I’ve trained teachers for years and I see that cold attitude towards digital smartness. Worse still is the reluctance teachers have at spending their own money on gadgets and internet data that will make them more effective. They ignorantly regard this as an obligation for their employers. SOF believes this has to change and that digital smartness is the beginning of smartness for every teacher. If you watch the learners get smarter than you while you sit back and fail to embrace technology, your relevance will be lost, in a short time. And this applies to teachers at every level – primary, secondary or tertiary.
Please follow carefully!
We’re not saying every teacher should become web developers, app developers, or programmers before they’re adjudged smart, but the question is: what if they are? Why not if they can? Technology driven education has enhanced development globally; our children are in a global competition and not a local one. So why should their teachers not be smart? ICT or computer teachers alone will not be sufficient to achieve this smartness in children, every teacher should be smart. If they don’t do well, children from other economies could take over the jobs belonging to them.
According to Dr Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, Former Minister for Education in Nigeria, we seem to think we’re raising children whose competition is only here in Nigeria. No! whether we are ignorant or conscious of this, our children are going to be competing with other children in other parts of the world, irrespective of where they live.
Or how do you explain the fact that, from my home in Lagos, I take jobs from other parts of the world and get them completed, delivered and get paid without even stepping out to see anyone. Those jobs were meant for graduates in those countries, but I in another country was found suitable. That’s unfair, right? Right under our nose, the same thing is happening to our children that we raise here and then we sit down and complain about unemployment. Hello teachers, we need to wake up. The world will not wait for us or rationalize the lame excuses we give for our sluggish growth. It’s telling on the future of our children.
The bottom line here is: our children will only be as smart as their teachers.
But as I’ve said earlier, digital smartness is not the only component of this smartness I’m talking about here, let’s see the others
When we say teachers are leaders. We don’t really grasp the complete meaning of this thinking until we see teachers as pivotal to the realization of those lofty potentials we’ve crafted for the children. In Nigeria of today, leadership is our biggest problem, as most of the menace we see here, we have also, in more developed climes; the difference is that leaders elsewhere are more sincere, morally equipped and focused at solving those problems. Here, there seems to be a gap difficult to fill.
That our nation is struggling to overcome so many issues, such as corruption, terrorism, drug abuse, human trafficking, bad governance and unemployment today, is a clear indication that the education of yesterday and by extension the teachers of yesterday have not baked the people of yesterday to produce a desired today. If we of today fail to do something different about it, then we don’t have the assurance of a desired tomorrow.
I Believe Leadership Is The Missing Key In Education
How can we raise children as leaders of tomorrow when those to teach them have not been groomed in leadership? Only leaders can produce leaders. Good leaders will produce good leaders and so teachers who have been groomed in leadership are in great demand. That is being smart too. I think we should stop lamenting the decadence in the education sector today and instead start crying at the time bomb we’re preparing for explosion tomorrow if we do not take care of the issue of leadership in today’s teachers. It should begin with you, you are a teacher. Leadership should be learnt and hence teachers should be equipped with the right leadership skills so they can transfer same effectively to the children they teach.
Leader-teachers are in short supply. So as education stakeholders, we’re custodians of tomorrow’s Nigeria. If we must grow our endeavours and thrive in this economy, we must raise a new generation of teachers, or be this smart new generation of teachers ourselves.
- ATTITUDES AND ETHICS
The obvious decadence in professional ethics and attitude to work and to life generally is one which the Nigerian corporate space is fighting hard to overcome. For teachers, it’s a bigger issue because it’s a direct indictment on our competence at raising future leaders in our children. For every individual, irrespective of whatever skills may be perceived as one’s selling points and market value:
Our Attitude Is Our Biggest Selling Point.
No teacher has the moral justification to mould a child when he cannot effectively change himself.
SOF Identifies the need for a whole new generation of teachers equipped with a complete awareness of attitude power. However smart a teacher is, without good attitudes, true worth cannot be realized or imparted. We have also seen a huge vacuum created in the private education industry where, the success of the edu-preneuers depends not just on the academic qualification or experience of the teachers they employ, but largely on their behaviour towards the customers that sustain the business. The private school industry may not all be playing fully to the standards, but they sure fill a gap.
The growth of any school is never a single-faced approach. No school can grow or sustain its growth without the full cooperation of its teachers. Most times the lack of this cooperation from the teachers is more a matter of attitudinal ignorance than it is of professionalism. Every teacher has academic qualification and some form of experience.
However, the nature of the private school business requires that teachers do more than just teach well. They must behave well. They must relate well in their environment, and they must place more value on themselves than anyone does. This problem is what SOF is out to solve. This also, is being smart.
If innovation is defined as the process of making changes to something established, by introducing something new and radically applying incremental changes to products, processes and services, then teachers need to do more. In today’s education, innovation cannot be placed second to our content development, methods of delivery, assessment, evaluation, and marketing. Innovation has to come first as lack of continuous innovation in this sector is what has kept us trying to catch up always with the rest of the world. So, teachers have to be innovative. Again, our strong argument here is that teachers cannot give what they don’t have. Innovation in everything we do becomes imperative in the face of dwindling resources amidst strong demands for better performances from all stakeholders. If the children must do well, their teachers must be on top of their game.
Let me take content development for instance. Teachers always follow a laid down curriculum set by the authorities. Already, we’re pushing for a holistic appraisal of our present curricular, if we’re to raise children prepared for tomorrow’s economy. But while we expect that, a teacher who knows how to innovate, improvise and adapt resources available to maximize the learner’s experience will get results where others give excuses.
From our on-going research into the behaviour of teachers in relation to their impact potentials, we discover one thing very salient. Most teachers are not good communicators. Or let me specify here that even though teaching is a form of communication, communication is a broader subject than teaching itself. Unfortunately, teachers concentrate their energy on teaching and pay less attention to communication. This in itself is the very reason they operate below optimum level. Many times, the children they teach could receive more than the academics the teachers teach if only teachers could learn to communicate better. When I say communication, I don’t mean it in the form of talking alone, but much more of impartation and expression of one’s passion. Teaching and communication are two different things, though related, and teachers must learn to be good communicators. SOF wants to unlock the communication potentials in teachers and make their productivity resound even outside the classroom.
Employing a teacher or staff generally is like birthing a new baby. Most teachers are on their way to owning a school or some other business someday. But for now, you must understand that the role you have in your employers’ business and that which they have in your own career is mutual. They started the school, but cannot run it alone. On the other hand, you have the skills, but you need a platform to showcase them. You cannot keep your qualification and degrees to yourself. So it’s a mutual need cycle. You need the employer, the employer needs you. The difference between the employer and the employee is not simply semantics. There’s a huge vacuum in each party’s career that can only be filled by the other party. You determine your success by commuting to your employer/employees success.
The employer-employee relationship is also a master-apprentice relationship because there’s need for transfer of competence from the employer to the employee. This cannot happen where the employee does not see any virtue in the employer that is worth imbibing and so consequently be submissive to learn under his foot. You need to patiently learn under your employer in case you plan to become one someday. At the very least, learn so you don’t make the mistakes they have made. Again I repeat, an apprentice will learn nothing about his master’s trade if he’s not submissive, patient and persevering. If you don’t believe me, walk into a Nigerian auto-mechanic workshop and see how apprentices learn from the senior mechanics. Most times without formal lecturing or tutoring, yet they become auto-repair experts and car users prefer to patronize them instead of the so called educated mechanical engineers with so much theoretical knowledge but little hands on experience.
As every teacher is an apprentice of his/her employer. So is every student an apprentice of the teacher. Understanding this principle of apprenticeship and aligning yourself by it is also being smart. The learners under you are watching you and they will become part of who you are in character. Understanding this is key to becoming indispensable.