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Calvin University Appoints Adejoke Ayoola Founding Dean of its School of Health



Calvin professor of nursing Adejoke Ayoola, PhD, RN, FAAN (Image & Article: Calvin)

Calvin University has appointed Adejoke Bolanle Ayoola as the founding dean of its School of Health. Ayoola stood out among the high caliber candidates reviewed by the search committee – a team which included Provost Noah Toly and representatives from each department and program in the School of Health.

Ayoola is nationally and globally recognized as an experienced practitioner, educator, researcher, and administrator. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, and earned her PhD from Michigan State University. Ayoola has been a member of Calvin’s faculty since 2007, contributing to both the nursing and public health programs and most recently chairing the nursing department.

“Dr. Ayoola not only met but also clearly excelled in the critical leadership requirements established by the committee,” said Toly. “She has a vibrant Christian faith, possesses a deep understanding of the Reformed tradition, models a prayerful life, and demonstrates a commitment to joyful integration of faith and learning.”

Accomplished thought leader and scholar

Ayoola’s academic influence runs deep, as she has contributed to her field with research in the areas of community based nursing, and maternal and infant health. Since completing her PhD, Ayoola has earned several awards and distinctions recognizing her accomplishments in the health field.

Notably, from 2012–2015, Ayoola served as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. The program, involving intensive leadership training, was created to inspire the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing. Five years later, Ayoola was inducted into the 2020 Class of Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing.

Ayoola is a member of the American Association of Nurses, the Honors Society of Nursing, Sigma International, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society; and she currently serves as a reviewer, associate editor or on the editorial board of 12 scholarly publications.

Guided by God

For Ayoola, the field of health has always been a passion, and it is a passion that is rooted in her faith.

“I am motivated to act when I see people or members of my community hurting —physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and when the vulnerable population experience health challenges,” she said. “I see health as an important part of what God wants for us.”

Ayoola believes that it is God who equipped her with the skills needed for this position, not only through her academic experiences, but also through her community work such as leading the African Ladies Fellowship of the African Resource Center in Grand Rapids and serving as an elder in her home church, Brookside CRC.

Carrying on Calvin’s mission

“Dr. Ayoola is deeply committed to the mission and vision of Calvin University,” said Kerrie Berends, kinesiology department co-chair and professor, and member of the search committee.

Ayoola has demonstrated this commitment by playing an integral role at Calvin, participating herself in a search committee for the dean of the School of Business, founding H.E.A.L.T.H. Camp at the university, and serving on the task force that articulated a vision for Calvin’s university structure – to name just a few contributions during her 15 years of service. Former advisees, research assistants, and research fellows recognize Ayoola for her commitment to their learning and post-graduate success.


For Ayoola, this next vocational step was confirmed by God’s guidance through prayer. She believes her vocation also includes preparing others well for work in the field.

“My vision is also for the experience in the School of Health to be transformative and for our future health professionals to be well-prepared in their calling to serve as great advocates for their patients,” she said.

Building on collaboration and partnerships

Beginning July 1 Ayoola will lead the School, serving approximately 600 undergraduate and over 75 graduate students studying directly in health-related programs, and dozens of other students in pre-professional tracks.

While the School is already involved in many community partnerships and collaborative scholarship, with Ayoola at the helm, colleagues say it is poised to broaden its impact.

“Dr. Ayoola has prioritized interprofessional collaboration among our departments, West Michigan communities, and globally,” said Berends. “It’s exciting and energizing to anticipate the impact that faculty and students will have as we expand our reach.”

Ayoola is ready for the challenge.

“I love creatively designing new programs in collaboration with people and in response to identified needs,” she said. “The idea of serving as a founding dean of the School of Health is exciting because it will provide me with opportunities to work with stakeholders to shape the School of Health’s programs.”

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The Viroscape Series: Use of Technology in education during Covid-19



By Dr Masha, Dr Eze, Dr Lamont-Mbawuli

According to an article written by Bonilla-Molina, the concept of “Global Pedagogical Blackout” refers to the conversion between the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolution, for a progressive educational reality. 

It is important for one to consider the complex interaction of “viral behaviors” in all spheres of life. A publication in Education Philosophy and Theory, defines the concept of “viral modernity”, as an example of “bio-informationalism”, which applies to “viral technologies, codes and ecosystems in information systems, publication, education and emerging knowledge”. There is a necessity for flexible education (teaching and learning anywhere, anytime) that promotes a more just, accessible, autonomous, and creative system. 

To develop educators, one needs to employ the use of digital technologies in classrooms which is still far from generating systemic change, rather promoting “islands of innovation”, based on the work of excellent teachers who carry out innovation in their teaching practices using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) without mediating a formal process of lifelong learning. Confounding factors that can affect the use of ICT in education are the following: lack of trust within the educational centre, the role of the ICT coordinator and the management team, as well as the existence of networks for access to new information and knowledge sharing among teachers, have greater positive effect on the use of ICTs compared to traditional lifelong learning activities .Teacher training must go beyond the development of basic digital skills but rather to seek to strategize an integrative the interpretative and creative potential of ICT into their training actions. 

One of the important factors needed to build good nations is education, as it is considered a backbone of most countries (Raheem & Khan, 2020). As the essence of education is to empower the lives of students, with a prerequisite of ensuring their health and well-being (Yong, 2020), Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s) are forced to reconsider what part of their educational delivery will be offered in person and what part will be offered on-line (Dennis, 2020). 

Against the backdrop of uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic and therefore the length of the lockdown (Bawa, 2020), HEIs in South Africa have committed themselves to completing the 2020 academic year and one of the three possible scenarios in the uncertain terrain presented by the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic (Dell, 2020) is the use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in teaching and learning (Behari-leak & Ganas, 2020; Demuyakor, 2020; Mhlanga & Moloi, 2020), a platform on which lecturers’ and students’ interactions of all kinds are strictly on-line.

As a result of the massification of the higher education system in South Africa, HEIs now see that participation of students who are diverse in terms of age, gender, social background, schooling background and expectations (Crisp, Palmer, Turnbull, Nettelbeck, Ward, LeCouteur, Sarria, Strelan & Schneider, 2009) include first year students (Tinto, 1988; Brewer, 2013; Brinkworth, McCann, Matthews & Nordstrom, 2009). 


These are mainly international students (Chysikos, Ahmed & Ward, 2017), indigenous students from isolated locations (Abdullah & Elia, 2009), students from rural backgrounds (Maila & Ross, 2018; Pillay, 2010), students from disadvantaged backgrounds (Hobden & Hobden, 2015), students who are first-generation students (FGS) in HEIs (Bayaga & Lekena, 2018; Heymann & Carolissen, 2011) and first time entering (FTEN) university students. FTEN undergraduate students refer to all students who are entering university for the first time and enrolled in formal undergraduate academic programmes (DHET, 2018). Most students from HEIs in South Africa are from either rural areas, farms, or townships.

Artificial Intelligence/Technology Assistance in Education 

The VLE platform is now widely accepted as a system that supports learning within the HEI realm (Dunn, 2003). It comes with facilities that allow lecturers to download notes in different formats and to receive feedback from students (Adu et al., 2020). There are several other advantages as far as the use of VLEs is concerned as revealed by several authors (e.g., Erasmus, Loedolff, Mda, & Nel, 2019; Montazer, 2014; Najafi, 2014; Negash & Vilkas, 2017; Warnich, Carrell, Elbert, & Hatfield, 2018). The common advantages of VLE include three elements; namely convenience for individual paperwork, automatic traditionalism and conformity. Accordingly, learning via the VLE platform is imperceptibly becoming a learning strategy in the teaching and learning realm, as such it is utilised by HEIs in many developed economies (Negash & Vilkas, 2017).

As part of the VLE platform, HEIs have seen the use and application of information and communication technologies to improve teaching and learning processes. Seen as a unifying phrase accustomed to explaining the areas associated with the internet, web-based instruction and technologies directions (Lorrain, 2017), VLEs enable numerous students in HEIs to study synchronously; thus HEIs have grown to enjoy its popularity since this method improves students’ academic achievement (Khalkhali, Shakibayi & Andosh, 2015).

However, since most students in South African HEIs come from majorly rural and peri-urban areas that are geographically spread across the nine Provinces, the VLE platform has resulted in challenges (experienced by both lecturers and students) such as lack of on-line learning environment, accessibility to data/Wi-Fi/internet and their usage, lack of connectivity, personality traits and attitude towards the use of smartphones, laptops and iPads. HEIs draw most of their students from rural areas of the Eastern Cape Province, with some coming from low quality primary and secondary schooling. Having not settled into their first year on campus when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, most students were immensely under-prepared to undertake instructions using the VLE platform.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) development is entrenched in the idea of distance education and openness in education. It has the potential of 24 hours access to cost-effective information, which attracts many learners across the globe. This type of learning can be useful for those learners who pursue university degrees whilst working. MOOCs are different from traditional university online modules in that participation is not limited, it is free, and it has a high scale production of modules for a high number of participants.

Other advantages of MOOCs include the reality that it has the potential of expansion, hence, it provides an avenue for income generation, it also provides a wide range of students’ access to the online education programme at low cost (Jung Lee, 2018; Phan et al., 2016; Zhou, 2016), it is flexible and accommodates some short courses apart from online degree qualifications, lastly it offers high accessibility and greater autonomy in the learning process (Shah, 2018a).

MOOCs flexibility includes participation without necessary entry or prerequisite qualification. This does not mean that it is meant for novice. According to Li and Powell (2013), MOOC is not an extension of the online teaching and learning approach but offers an opportunity for the recipients to think outside the box on different modules that include fundamentals of open education. Language and information communication and technologies (ICT) skills are also requirements for MOOCs. As submitted by Lee et al. (2016), it is behavioural to engage in terms of completing a task, having feelings toward a task, and intellectual or mental efforts. Ben-Eliyahu et al. (2018) and Oga-Baldwin et al. (2017) shared similar conceptualization, that involvement is about contribution in learning activities, which has three important elements that include behavioural engagement, emotional engagement, and intellectual engagement. Hsieh (2014) report that there are three types of learner behaviours which exhibit signs of engagement namely: cognitive effort, active participation, and interactions with instructors.

Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE) 

Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE) is a free web application that promotes effective online learning sites. It can be in the form of a course management system (Course Management System – CMS) through the Internet, also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). One of its main advantages is that it allows any user with knowledge of programming to adapt and modify it according to their needs because it is open source. MOODLE can be installed at no cost at all and there is no cost for upgrading. Making any update is not by force, neither can one be forced to buy tools that they do not want. The teacher is expected to manage the platform per their needs (Adu et al., 2020).

In conclusion, the use of artificial intelligence/technologies in education already has a strong and affirmative influence on higher education delivery as educational resources (all human, material, non-material audio-visual, school environment and community) from around the world have become more freely accessible and more interactive medium for learning are employed. COVID 19 has perpetuated the use of artificial intelligence/technology in education in three major ways. 

Firstly, a new educational and classroom tools that enable new techniques of offering the course; secondly, a change in pedagogy in teaching and learning and thirdly new educational systems to enrich and enhance the conventional teaching pattern. Examples of these new educational and classroom tools are Google Apps, Basecamp, Slack, Trello, Red Pen, BeeCanvas, Yammer and Wrike. These tools facilitate interactions between instructors and students to share documents online. Electronic readers are portable devices for reading digital books and periodicals, such as the Amazon Kindle, Apple ipad, Barnes & Noble Nook, Bookeen Cybook Opus, the Kobo Reader, Sony Reader, the Samsung Galaxy, and the likes. These assist instructors and students to communicate through diagrams, drawings, and text.


Dr Maribanyana Lebeko who is part of the advisory for Simanye Clinic for his assistance in terms of compilation, editing and proofreading of this article. Dr Eric Makoni for his initial thoughts and contributions to the Viroscape series.


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Simi Nwogugu on Africa Education Medal launched by T4 Education, HP, and Intel



Simi Nwogugu, CEO of Junior Achievement Africa, voiced her support for the new Africa Education Medal, launched this year by T4 Education in collaboration with HP and Intel.

Junior Achievement Africa CEO Simi Nwogugu, called on Nigeria’s changemakers to apply or be nominated for the inaugural Africa Education Medal. Simi Nwogugu has joined leading figures from across Africa in support of the new award that will be given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.

In the decades leading up to the pandemic, Africa had been making great strides in boosting school enrolment. To protect and expand upon these vital gains in the wake of COVID. Teachers, NGOs, politicians, tech entrepreneurs, and figures from the public and private sectors, will need to work together to build a future where every child in Africa can achieve the quality education that is their birthright.

The Africa Education Medal has been launched to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent. And to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change so others will be inspired to take up the torch.

Brad Pulford, Managing Director at HP Africa, said: “HP has been committed to enabling better learning outcomes for 100 million people between 2015-2025. Achieving this bold goal wouldn’t be possible without empowered education leaders and trailblazers who are at the forefront of the rapidly changing education environment. A quality education empowers not just individuals, but entire communities. It will skill the next generation to fulfil their full potential in a world being transformed by technology. The Africa Education Medal not only honours the tireless work of those seeking to improve education all across Africa. But gives them a platform to amplify their voices and inspire others to follow their examples.”

Simi Nwogugu, CEO of Junior Achievement Africa, said: “A good education will empower young people in Nigeria and across Africa. To fulfil their full potential, secure better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. I am a beneficiary of great educational institutions from attending a public secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria. To attaining an MBA at Harvard Business School, which empowered me to return to Nigeria to expand the work of JA across Nigeria and the continent. Africa’s great changemakers know education is the key to our continent’s prosperity in a global economy. I urge inspirational leaders from Nigeria and across Africa to step forward and apply for the Africa Education Medal so their stories can inspire thousands more.”

Vikas Pota, Founder and CEO of T4 Education: “Quality education will help African countries grow and prosper. And it will help Africa produce the public leaders of tomorrow who will go on to grapple with the continent’s greatest challenges from inequality, to climate change, food insecurity and disease. The Africa Education Medal recognises those who are working every day to make that vision a reality.”

The Africa Education Medal is open to individuals working to improve pre-kindergarten, K-12, vocational and university education who are one of the following:

  • Educators and school administrators.
  • Civil society leaders.
  • Public servants and government officials.
  • Political leaders.
  • Technologists and innovators.

Nominees must demonstrate their contribution in any of the following key areas in education:

  • Significantly improving learning outcomes.
  • Promoting girls’ education.
  • Promoting equity and broadening access to education.
  • Advancing pedagogical or technological innovation.
  • Building and strengthening educator capacity.
  • Catalysing civic participation in education.
  • Championing the rights of education stakeholders.

 The Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal will be announced in July and the winner will be announced in September. Nominees will be assessed by a Jury comprising prominent individuals based on rigorous criteria.

Nominations, including self-nominations, can be made online HERE. 

Nominations will close on June 3, 2022.



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Elizabeth Elango, Former Junior Achievement Africa CEO leading the only school in the US for Refugee Girls



Elizabeth Elango was born and raised in Cameroon, Central Africa. Her education started at a small bilingual primary school in the economic capital city of DOuala. After which she went on to an all girls Catholic middle school in Mamfe, a town near the border of Cameroon and Nigeria. She completed one year of high school before moving to the US and going to university and graduate school. Her undergraduate degree is in International Relations from Kennesaw State University and Masters degree in African studies from Yale University. After graduate school, Elizabeth received a Fulbright scholarship to study Swahili in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Then, she went on to work for an education-based non-profit in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. In this interview, Alaba Ayinuola engaged Elizabeth Elango on her passion for and journey into the development and non-profits sector. excerpts.


Alaba: Could you briefly share your career journey till now?

Elizabeth: Much of my career has been anchored in three things; my love for people, my commitment to education and my love for Africa. I started out working for a non-profit organization called Heifer International, which was an agriculture based organization. I worked there for 15 years, and the last role I held was Vice-President for Africa programs. In that capacity, I led the organizations’ Africa portfolio, which was a multi-million dollar investment in 12 countries leading 300 staff. It was a very demanding yet deeply rewarding experience. After I left Heifer, I became the CEO for Junior Achievement Africa, based in Accra, Ghana. 

Over the course of those five years, I led a program in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, driving the organization’s agenda and mission to promote youth entrepreneurship, workforce readiness and financial literacy. Following my passion for young people and for education after that, I accepted the role of CEO and Head of School at Global Village Project, where I now work. GVP is a school for refugee girls who have newly arrived in the US, having missed many years of schooling. We reactivate their schooling so that they can access all the benefits of education. We create a safe place where they can learn and thrive.

Alaba: What led you into development, non-profit and your passion for the sector?

Elizabeth: I’ve always been drawn to service. Growing up in Cameroon, I saw what poverty, social injustice and inequity looked like and I was drawn to a sector that worked to address these issues. In the non-profit and development sector, I find that I am able to apply everything that I am passionate about and everything that I’m good at. I like to be with people and I am honored that in the roles I’ve held I’ve been able to sit with marginalized people and hear their stories. And so, I have made it my career to do whatever I can to be of support to them.

Alaba: You currently lead the only school in the US for Refugee girls. What sparked the interest?

Elizabeth: As the CEO and Head of School at Global Village project, I see myself in the girls at our school. Like them, I went to an all-girls school. Like them, I moved to the US as a teenager. Like them, my education was critical to defining my future. If I could start where I started, in a school in Cameroon with a dirt floor and make it to an Ivy league University in America. And then go on to lead organizations and travel around the world and influence others, then they too can do that and more.

Alaba: Tell us more about the Global Village Project. What is it set to achieve and how do you measure impact?

Elizabeth: Global Village Project is an amazing school. When girls arrive in the US as refugees, they have often missed five or more years of schooling. Yet, the system places them in schools according to their ages and not their academic abilities. At GVP, we have a school that is tailored to their needs. We have a robust three-year program that starts with English language literacy, then adds on STEAM. Social and emotional learning and mentoring to help our students succeed. At GVP, students are categorized in forms based on their academic and language ability. Our students range in age from 11-17. They come from over 20 different countries and speak even more languages. 

Here, we have a strong system of support to ensure their academic success and emotional wellbeing. We are able to be attentive and responsive to the fact they’ve experienced trauma in their young lives. At GVP, our students become part of a sisterhood of success with other girls who they can relate to, learn from, learn with and grow with. It is a pretty magical place.

Alaba: How has your purpose, mission and values shaped your journey thus far?

Elizabeth: My purpose is to try and always place myself where the world’s greatest need meets my greatest ability. So far in my career, I have been very successful at doing so. In many ways, I feel as if I’ve never worked a day in my life because I’ve always enjoyed what I was doing so much that I threw myself into the work. The things I care about, the things I value show up in my work everyday. 

Alaba: As a professional leader with over 20 years experience in the field. What leadership style do you adopt?

Elizabeth: My leadership style is hugely people-centered. I believe in putting people first, second and third. I like to collaborate. I like to share power. I like to grow people and challenge them to do things they didn’t believe they could achieve. I love to see people around me succeed. I hire good people and I trust them to perform. I tend to coach more than I manage. I put a lot of energy into eliminating fear in my ecosystems.

I often help people interrogate their relationship with power, which I think is often very definitive of how we lead our lives. My leadership style encompasses all of these things with a healthy dose of love and empathy and a commitment to always have fun and laughter in any environment I inhabit.

Alaba: What was the biggest “no” you heard in your career, and what did you learn from it?

Elizabeth: In 2015 when I left Heifer, I was looking for a new role and was invited to Amsterdam to interview for a job that I wanted very much. The job was based in Accra, Ghana, where I wanted to move to. At the time, I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. After a three day trip to the Netherlands to interview for the job, I was turned down for it and I was very disappointed. A few weeks later, I got the job for Junior Achievement Africa, which was by far a much better fit for me. 

Eventually, when I moved to Ghana, I met the man who had gotten the job I was turned down for and it made me happy to meet him because he was much more suited for the role. What I learned from that experience and many more since is that hearing No is a way of having your path redirected. What’s meant to be always finds a way.

Alaba: What lasting impact do you hope to have in the sector?

Elizabeth: I am a person of deep faith in God and my hopes and my prayers are the same: to be of purpose to society. If my actions can improve anyone’s life, then I consider that success. If my words can inspire anyone, I consider that success. If how I live my life can motivate anyone, then I consider that success. I don’t want to wait till the end of my career when I feel I have amassed a sufficient amount of wealth and personal security before I give back. I want to give back now.

Alaba: Where would you like to see the sector go from here?

Elizabeth: I hope that the non-profit sector will continue to provide value to society. Especially to marginalized people and to places where there is injustice and inequity. I hope that the sector will grow in its ability to respond to and address stated needs and not just perceived needs. I hope that everyone who engages in this sector will become better listeners and better servants. If we are committed to doing these things, then we will continue to have an impact.

Alaba: What advice do you have for female leaders in the sector?

Elizabeth: I’d give the same advice I give to my daughters and to myself  on a daily basis: be bold, be brave, be confident. I say this to all women leaders, not just to those who lead non-profits. We have unique perspectives, valuable insights, comparable intellects and capabilities as our male counterparts. Let us lean into those strengths and be unafraid to be change-makers.



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