Our Actions Reveal Our Values by Mister Mobility

Humans have a penchant for blaming others for their troubles. There are very few people who will sit down to re-evaluate their actions and reflect to determine whether or not they need to make adjustments somewhere. Here in Nigeria, it is old news that education is mostly in shambles. We have tons of schools, yet the huge majority of graduates are unemployable without any further training or re-training. We have graduates who are unable to string a sentence together without grammatical errors. We have engineers who have never taken apart a combustion engine. We must mention the computer scientists whose only skills on a PC is the use of Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer.

We all know the problems. They have been re-hashed again and again over the years. It is true also that government has not lived up to its responsibilities for the most part. Or rather, that people in government have made sure that government does not by misappropriating funds. But how about us? Are there ways in which we encourage this rot in educational development?

  1. When as individuals, we spend more money on fun and entertainment than we do on personal development, what values are we reflecting?
  2. Do we spend more money on fashion than on buying resources that we can learn or develop new skills from?
  3. When we have access to the internet, what websites are our primary destinations – gossip and entertainment blogs, or blogs where we can find quality content for personal and professional development?
  4. Have you ever been to a cyber cafe and witnessed students (in school uniform) viewing porn sites, instead of using that access to learn?
  5. When our corporate organisations spend millions of Naira in sponsorship of music and sports shows, as against a few hundreds of thousands for educational shows and events, what values are they reflecting and encouraging?

It does not seem that as a people, we really value education. This is not to say that there are not pockets of exceptions to the rule. There are. But what we value is so clear from our actions and spending that they do not need to be voiced. If we will move forward, there has to be a sweeping change in the mindset of the average Nigerian. This is not just a government problem. This change needs to happen across board.

Yomi Adegboye AKA Mister Mobility, founder Mobility Blog. Mobile connoisseur. Maverick. Techie. Blogger. Entrepreneur. Agony Aunt. Adventurer. Amateur musician. Follow him on Twitter @Mister_Mobility, on LinkedIn at Yomi Adegboye, and Circle him on Google+. Listen to his music on SoundCloud.

 

How Important are Math and English to Education?

For as long as one can remember, Math and English have enjoyed the enviable esteem as the two subjects on which all of our education hinge on. Without a pass in both of these subjects, one does not make progress educationally. As a matter of fact, a credit in both subjects is required for advancement at many levels.

 

In WAEC (West African Examinations Council) and SSCE (Senior Secondary School Examination), credits in five subjects including Math and English is the criterion for determining if a student passes or not.

 

In recent times, there have been controversies around the fairness of using credits in these two subjects to judge the percentage of students that pass exams. A central argument is that not everyone ends up needing English and Math. As such, it is expedient that we examine this argument.

 

  • Everyone needs to communicate. In a multi-lingual country like ours, English is the official language. The reality also is that English is by and large the official language of the world. Without upholding English as important, the country will soon degenerate into Babel.
  • For years, employers and recruitment agencies have complained about the inability of the average university graduate to compose a flawless sentence in English. We can only imagine what will happen if we decide that English is no longer important to educational development.
  • There is no profession or vocation in the country that does not require a proficiency in communication, and English is the default language for that. How do professionals communicate effectively if students are allowed to pass with or without proficiency in English?
  • Math is an everyday tool for everyone. We budget with it, go shopping, carry out buying and selling, evaluate personal, corporate and national statistics with our knowledge of Math. Personal salaries, business revenue and profit, taxes and a whole lot more on a personal level, are all dependent on our knowledge of Math.

 

In the light of the above, it is difficult to see reason with those who would have us drop Math and English as requirements for passing examinations and moving forward. They are very essential to education and living. Making these two subjects unimportant will further tear down the already bad standard of education in the country.

 

Since we are in the business of creating solutions, our Question Bank, a CD software of WAEC past questions, is a useful resource for the student preparing for WAEC. Read more the First Veritas Question  Bank here.

For School Admin: Leveraging During This Ebola Period

As a school administrator/owner, how are you adjusting your academic calendar plan in view of the holiday extension due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus (EVD)?

Holiday extension due to health concerns should not totally disrupt the school’s teaching plans. As such, if you are a futuristic school with an already vibrant e-learning platform, kudos to you! However, if you do not have existing e-learning platforms, here are a few tips you can use before school resumes:

  • Assign revision assignments and communicate them via bulk SMS to the parents of your students (See why you should keep school records?)
  • Mathematics and English (and all their variations) are the bases on which others course subjects are built. Therefore, start students on course work in Mathematics & English
    Graded Readers Book

    Graded Readers Book

    before school resumption. Encourage their parents to come to the school to purchase relevant textbooks.Below are some of the textbooks you can utilize:

    • First Veritas Grammar and Comprehension for Primary Schools (Books 1-5)
    •  The Book of Phonics for Primary Schools (with complimentary Audio CD) (Books 1-6)
    • First Veritas Quantitative Reasoning for Primary Schools (Books 1-6)
    • First Veritas Verbal Reasoning for Primary Schools (Books 1-6)
    • First Veritas has Universal Basic Mathematics for Primary 1-6
    •  First Veritas Graded Readers for Primary is a series of 36 storybooks across 6 levels. Give them essay assignments based on these story books. Engage the students!
    • For the pre-primary schoolers, our Pinwheel Books can be very beneficial. Pinwheel Jumbo Activity
      Jumbo Activity Book

      Jumbo Activity Book

      Book is a wholistic  activity book to engage the mind of the very active pre-schooler.

    • First Veritas Question Bank is a CD compilation of WAEC past questions (over 20 years) in 11 subjects. Students can practice with this software in the comfort of their homes before school resumption and even after school resumption.

This is a very challenging period for the education sector but it could also be an occasion for you to differentiate your school as a creative, practical and pro-active institution by taking these necessary steps.

You can call 08104039756 to order for some or all of these books.

Is It True That Nigerians Do Not Read?

Image from Google

Image from Google

There is the constant complaint that Nigerians do not read. We hear about the death of the reading culture in the country over and over again. In truth, if we look at book sales records, it does seem that those assertions are correct. However, a closer look may reveal something else.

 

Because of the often lack of statistics available in the country, in the past, it was difficult to measure a lot of things, including book and magazine sales. With the advent of the internet though, for the first time, we have a means of collating data for evaluation. Here are a few teasers.

 

  • “Nigerians do not read”, yet there are 56 million active mobile internet users in the country.
  • As at 2013, Nigeria had overtaken South Africa to become Facebook’s largest user base in Sub Saharan Africa with over 11 million users.
  • Nigeria is the third most active African country on Twitter.
  • Nigeria has been in the top 10 usage of Opera Mini browser globally for many years.
  • Nigeria continues to be a top country on the BBC website in terms of traffic.

 

There are many more places online that Nigerians are active, but a look at these few should suffice for our experiment. If it is true that Nigerians do not read, exactly what is it that Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter do? Sleep? Mope?

 

Every day on Facebook and Twitter , Nigerians share and comment on articles that they have read. Interesting (and sometimes sadly unpleasant) discussions are generated from these articles. The records show that Nigerians put out a lot of information on those two platforms. We see people publishing their own notes, as well as sharing excerpts and links from their own blogs and websites.

 

Perhaps it isn’t true after all that Nigerians do not read. Perhaps the real challenge is that authors and publishers need to find out how to create content that Nigerians will enjoy reading.

First Veritas Question Bank: WAEC past questions with answers

Anyone who has ever sat for an examination and had access to past questions and answers of same exams in the years before knows the value of such material. For one, past questions and answers help students have a fair idea of what to expect and how to deal with those challenges.  Not only do those issues include question types and formats, but also how best to manage time while taking the examination in question. As such, it is important also to be sure of the source of the past resources that one uses.

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Here are a few quick benefits of past question and answer tools:

 

–        they help you find out what you already know and what you don’t know

–        they help you practice time management in the exam hall

–        they help you get a better understanding of the exam topics

 

First Veritas has an electronic product, Question Bank, a student examination self-preparation tool

which provides past questions and answers to WAEC examinations over the past 20 years. The team at First Veritas actually have high profile experience of twenty years in the publishing field, making the brand a trustworthy one.

 

Question Bank is an electronic resource – installable on your Windows PC. It provides:

 

–        revision tests, practice tests, and exams

–        study tips

–        you can select different subjects, exam years, and time frames for each test you want to take in Question Bank

–        the Question Bank itself has a built-in usage guide

–        being electronic, wear and tear that traditional paper resources are subject to is eliminated

 

Question Bank is a great support tool to prepare for WAEC in the 21st century. Your children are able to use the tool they are already familiar with – the PC or laptop – to polish up their preparation. It does not replace the need for the student to study. Every student preparing for any exam has to have a fair grasp of the subjects being covered in order to get the best out of past questions and answers. Any student who has done that will benefit immensely from using First Veritas’ Question Bank.

 

For any enquiries, please call 08104039756.

When Children Question Everything

It is commonly accepted that kids say the darndest things (Bill Cosby’s Show; anyone?). It is also known that

Source: Google

Source: Google

kids ask questions about anything and everything. Some times, those questions are pretty uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing. There is often the temptation to brush them off and send them to go play a game or get some work done when they start pushing along certain lines. They are kids, after all.

 But perhaps, we can use the natural inquisitiveness of our children to help them learn to think and analyze. Can it be that we can find a place of balance in which we let kids be kids without stifling their curious and exploring minds?

 Experience hows that kids who question and poke at everything possible tend to develop into adults who can think through situations and concepts better. While it may be scary for some parents, it is also true that children who are much more outgoing, and often pushing the boundaries and crossing lines, tend to grow up into adults who are able to take the bull of life by the horns. They tend to be able to thrive even against the greatest odds. They are used to not conforming and taking no for an answer.

 It is that place of balance where we teach children the place of order and authority, yet let their minds and bodies roam in adventure and exploration that guardians, parents and teachers must find in raising and training children. Some parents lock down the child completely, insisting that a child’s place is absolute submission. Such children often grow up timid and incapable of coping when life’s storms hit. Other parents just let the child have their way a hundred percent. Usually, such kids grow up to become delinquents. Both approaches are fraught with problems. The place of balance is needed.

Do you remember how your parents handled your questioning everything and pushing boundaries? As a parent, how do you cope with this need to strike a balance?

Balancing the Holidays with Fun and Learning

It is still holiday period and students have lots of time on their hands. There is TV, perhaps their greatest interest at this time. Many kids want to wake up in the morning, plant themselves in front of the television and surf channels all day. When TV is unavailable – perhaps because public power fails – they almost always turn to their gadgets for games: PSP and other gaming consoles, mobile phones and tablets. Yes; our kids are the most digital generation ever. They never get bored with a gadget around.

But there is more to life than electronics and it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to help their children strike that balance and learn the fact.

Google Images

Google Images

Regulated Fun Time

Parents and guardians need to help draw lines and schedule their time. It is a good idea to let children have play time, but it is a bad idea to let them have unrestricted, unregulated play time. It is also a good idea to schedule different types of fun activities, some of which are beneficial to them in other ways.

Physical Activities

For example, how about implementing some time for physical sports and games? Running, jumping, skipping, table tennis, football, and basketball are examples of physical activities that we can engage our children in. It isn’t a bad idea to take long walks with the children in the neighbourhood or the park as well. The huge benefits include sharper mental faculties and healthier bodies.

Books!

Yes; books are a fun way to learn. Take a trip with the kids to the bookstore and have them pick story books and novels that interest them (you can order from First Veritas’ selection too) , then schedule days and periods to read out loud to one another. You can alternate reading: you read a chapter and then your child reads the next chapter. They have fun sharing the moments with you with stories and fictional characters that they like, and they improve on their vocabulary and speaking skills at the same time.

There are other fun ways to engage the children during holidays. Perhaps you have a few that you have implemented yourself. Do share in the comments section below.

Why We Must Invest More in Primary Education

We shall kick off today’s topic with a quote from an article that we saw yesterday on the subject of education:

“People with decent primary and secondary education are more likely to be the outliers that will thrive in spite of the university they go to. It may sound elitist but (if you were not one yourself), you probably remember that classmate at university (or three, or five or twenty), who struggled not only with grammar, but also with grasping every material concept your lecturers tried to teach. People who would throw a tantrum if they could not record the lecturer verbatim. People who had not learnt how to learn.”  Source: How Much Does a Bad Education Cost?

The above quote so captures part of the essence of what is wrong with the Nigerian education system as it is: we are not providing a solid foundation for students and the workers of tomorrow because our primary education is weak. It is at this level that the core tools that are essential to a lifetime of learning and skills development should be imparted. Once that stage is flawed and ineffective, pretty much nothing else works well going forward. Here are the key issues:

  • Children who do not get quality primary school education are more likely to struggle through secondary school, university and whatever vocation they pick later in life.

    educatio

    Google

  • Those who learn good comprehension skills, good study habits and good analytical skills at the primary level are likely to stand out even if what they are later exposed to at the secondary and tertiary levels are substandard systems. Why? They would have learnt the basics. They would have developed the drive and the skills required to learn by themselves.
  • This also often means that even as workers later in life, when in a less than ideal situation, they are able to display greater initiative

In architecture and building circles, it is a fact that once the foundation of a building is weak or bad, it doesn’t matter how grand or beautiful the structure built on it is, the building will fail. That is the very reason why we all – parents, guardians, educators and government – need to invest more in primary education right now. As it is, what we have on ground now mostly means that we will continue to churn out graduates who are unemployable and who are incapable of innovation on the job.

How Can Slow Learners Be Helped?

It can be a very frustrating experience teaching, training, instructing and observing the student who is unable to grasp the subject quickly or even at all. Every teacher or instructor faces this scenario at some point in time. There is that student that is slow to assimilate, process and apply information. In some cases, there are those who are unable to grasp certain things at all.

Image from Google

 

 

Looking through report sheets of various students over a period of time, one can easily conclude that some students are just not bright. What does the teacher do in such a situation? The most important thing to note is that a slow learner is not necessarily a dumb person. Perhaps this is not quite his sphere of intelligence. Perhaps his potential is a little different. Perhaps he has been lazy or hasn’t paid attention.

 

Praise Effort, not Results

Where a student has been diligent, the first thing we must do is praise their efforts. Yes; the results may be poor and unworthy of praise, but the effort put in by the student is worthy of commendation.  Be sure to note the distinction though: praising poor results is not only wrong, but will further ensure that the student does not do better. But by all means, do commend any god efforts.

 

Encourage Diligence

The student needs to be encouraged to put in more time and effort. While intelligence and natural ability are attractive, more often than not, hard work can catch up and in some cases overtake those.  Help build their self-confidence by pointing out that they can excel if they put in more effort.

 

Give Extra Attention

The teacher or instructor needs to pay extra attention to the slow learner and help them make progress. There is no easy way around it. But the true teacher will go the extra mile for the reward of seeing their student do well. Draw up some extra time for them. Give them extra reading to do. Sit with them to explain the difficult things to them. Make them comfortable. The teacher needs to be their go-to person when they get stuck.

 

All things being equal, with a little assistance from a teacher who cares, even slow learners can produce some really amazing results.

A FAMILY TRIP THIS HOLIDAY IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA

familytrip

It is easy to wave off holidays as times to give children a break from learning. However, this can be a grave mistake. While children should be given a break from formal learning and schooling, there are many fun ways of ensuring that they do learn even during long holidays.

A field trip is an excellent idea of a fun way to teach your children and /or wards in a hands-on way during holidays. By definition, a field trip is a trip made by students to learn about something

A field trip can be to places like nature spots e.g. water springs, water falls, rocks and nature trails, zoos, schools, museums, etc. It is fun, exciting, and yet educational. Here are some benefits of a field trip:

  • children have fun traveling and experiencing new places and things
  • children learn in a hands-on manner different from what obtains in a school environment
  • children get more exposure to the variety of peoples and customs that exist in the world
  • children get to know their country better

Holidays – especially to affluent Nigerians – often mean one or more trips to choice cities in Europe, North America, Middle East or the Asia – New York, Paris, London, Atlanta, Singapore, or Dubai. However, Nigeria is a large country, with lots of beautiful locations that all provide learning experiences. Those experiences include: historical, cultural, religious and scientific. Here are a few such places:

  • Olumo Rock, Abeokuta
  • Ikogosi Water Falls, Ikogosi-Ekiti
  • Arinta Water Fall, Iponle Ekiti
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
  • University Of Ibadan Zoological Garden (and the campus too)
  • Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar
  • Kainji Dam and Lake Kainji, Niger State
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

These are just a handful of places to visit. Each of them have a rich history that involves stories based on culture and/or science. Your children will see and hear things for themselves that will reinforce the theoretical classes they have had in school. A lot of things will be clearer to them. And they will have great fun while at it. You should give it a try these holidays.

Don’t forget to pick up one or more of First Veritas books with homegrown content that helps your children learn from the point of view of our local environment.