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Ubongo Celebrates 10 Years of Transforming Education in Africa

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Ubongo, Africa’s leading children’s edutainment and media company, is excited to announce its 10-year anniversary, marking a decade of transforming education and empowering millions of children across the continent. With an impressive portfolio of educational programs including Akili and Me, Ubongo Kids, and the recent addition of the captivating new show Nuzo and Namia, Ubongo continues to set the standard in innovative learning experiences for kids.

Since its founding in July of 2013 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ubongo has been dedicated to providing fun, localized, and multi-platform educational content that helps children foster a lifelong love of learning. Through accessible technologies like TV, radio, and mobile phones, Ubongo has reached over 32 million families across Africa, making a significant impact on the continent’s education landscape. Independent research studies examining Ubongo’s programs have consistently revealed their profound impact, enhancing school readiness, improving learning outcomes, and fostering positive social and behavioral change among both children and their caregivers.

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Over the past 10 years, Ubongo has grown from a small Tanzanian grassroots startup to a Pan-African non-profit organization and the market leader in African edutainment. Ubongo’s innovative and engaging edutainment programs empower kids with the knowledge and critical skills they need to change their lives and their communities for the better.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this incredible milestone of 10 years,” said Mwasi Wilmore, CEO of Ubongo. “It is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion of our team, partners, and supporters who have believed in our mission and contributed to our success. Together, we have made a significant impact on education in Africa, and we are committed to continuing our journey of transforming learning for generations to come.”

In commemoration of this significant milestone, Ubongo has arranged a special 10-year anniversary event in Dar es Salaam to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones achieved throughout the years. The event will feature inspiring speeches and captivating presentations showcasing the journey and impact of Ubongo’s edutainment programs.

“We invite all our partners, supporters, and stakeholders to join us in celebrating this significant milestone,” added Mwasi Wilmore. “Together, let us reflect on our journey, express our gratitude, and renew our commitment to providing quality education and transformative learning experiences for children in Africa.”

“As we look ahead to the next decade, we remain steadfast in our mission to reach even more children, leveraging the power of edutainment to unlock their potential and shape a brighter future for Africa,” added Mwasi Wilmore.

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Education

BAO Exclusive with Dr. Musa Akinyemi, Rector of Crown Maritime Academy

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Dr. Musa Akinyemi is an experienced Rector with a demonstrated history of working in the maritime industry. He is currently the Rector/CEO of Crown Maritime Academy, CMA a go-to maritime training institution. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online (BAO), Dr. Musa shares more insights on the maritime training institution, its certifications, milestones and much more. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Could please tell us about Crown Maritime Academy and your role?

Dr. Musa: Crown Maritime Academy, CMA was muted as an experiment in 2011. That was 10 years after my return from exile in Cote d’Ivoire having suffered insecurity as Gen. Sani Abacha deprived me of my Federal Government employment without any reason in 1996. Between 2011 and 2014, just within 3 years of existence, the Academy was recognized as a Centre of Academic Excellence by the Commonwealth in London and Listed in the 2014/2015 Edition of the Commonwealth Education Ministers Publication. In addition, Crown Maritime Academy, CMA was also featured Online by the Commonwealth Education Partnerships (CEP) of London.

My role from the onset was strategically collapsed between Lecturing and Administering. Thus, I chose to be addressed with the status of Registrar. Yet, I had to decide and also design courses to offer as well as which curriculum to evolve or develop. Therefore, I added the CEO title, even as Registrar. That made me search for a seasoned and very resourceful postgraduate fellow who became the Rector.

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Alaba: What sets Crown Maritime Academy apart from other Maritime Academy and how is it positioned to be the go-to institution?

Dr. Musa: This Academy has been set apart uniquely, abinitio, because we envisioned and delivered an Academy with a qualitative, affordable and available platform capable of achieving pan-Africanism, especially the African youth emancipation.

Already, we have commanded progressive credibility and stable camaraderie with fellow academies and universities locally and in the diaspora. It is expected that continuity, creativity and just-in-time delivery of our programmes would position Crown Maritime Academy, CMA as a go-to maritime training institution.

Alaba: Please tell us about the certifications offered, accreditation and opportunities that come after completion?

Dr. Musa: The Academy started with Diploma award for 2 years programme, at the end of which, after some 1 year practice in the industry, awardees could return to do the Advanced Diploma. Indeed, it was a sound and recommendable beginning. What we are doing now is to fully blend with the Federal Ministry of Education’s regulatory framework so as to start the National Innovative Diploma (NID) or National Diploma (ND) in our own name.

Many of our graduates are already engaged in the military, para-military, port operations and the like, while a few others have set-up their own businesses.

Alaba: Can you highlights some of  your significant milestones and challenges?

Dr. Musa: Crown Maritime Academy, CMA is at the forefront of sustainable maritime education and training in Nigeria. In 2021, our senior management team was specifically selected and sponsored to conduct a Facility Tour of the Federal Government-owned Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) at Oron, Akwa Ibom State. The only private maritime training institution in Nigeria to be so recognized.

Don’t forget also that we produced the Best-Graduated Shipping Management Student in Nigeria in 2017/2018. In 2018/2019, we repeated the academic feat by also producing the Best-Graduated Shipping Management Student in Nigeria. We are equally among those leading in Transport and Logistics Management, as we produced the Best-Graduated in this specialization in Nigeria in the 2020/2021 session.

Meanwhile, our challenges remain, namely, the harsh and unsupported maritime domain plus the capital intensive nature of providing tertiary education.

Alaba: What is your overall assessment of the entire situation of Nigerian maritime  training and capacity building?

Dr. Musa: We are still operating at 50 % capacity. Most sincerely though, if not for the resuscitation of the MAN Oron by the current Rector, Rtd. Commodore Effedua, the capacity could have been far lower.

So, let it be known that with the MAN Oron bouncing-back, the Federal Government would get the graduating cadets the much-needed training vessels and, as a matter of urgency, float an ocean-going fleet to employ them. Of course, training should, from this achievement, become a life-long development.

Alaba: What are CMA priorities/plans for the year and where do you see the academy in the next 5 years?

Dr. Musa: Our current priorities include moving to our permanent site as well as to smoothly and successfully partner with the Federal authorities in respect of educational qualifications, regulations, standards, control and compliance.

I am very confident that foreign students would regularly seek admission and come to study at Crown Maritime Academy, CMA in Nigeria.

Alaba: Your advice for students  and professionals in or aspiring to go into the maritime sector?

Dr. Musa: The first advice from me is that they should not fail to understand the importance of triple “T” or T raised to power 3. The first T is Time, they should not be looking for how to cut corners or abuse the process. Let them give all the time needed to study! The second T is for Talent. This means that they should not come empty and go back empty, they should be loaded with effervescent intellectual deposits!! Finally, the third T, which stands for Trust. This is to say that you can not excel and sustain the lucrative life of a shipping professional if colleagues and the stakeholders can not trust you.

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Education

The Space Prize Foundation and UNESCO partners to propel Space Education across Africa

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The Space Prize Foundation announces the launch of its partnership with UNESCO, aimed at democratizing access to space education and inspiring a new generation of female scientists and engineers in Africa. Despite sixty years of space exploration, women are grossly underrepresented in the space industry, making this initiative potentially transformative on the educational landscape and, ultimately, the future of space exploration. 

Starting in Rwanda, this visionary partnership will unfold over the next several months as both organizations meticulously plan the framework for the implementation of the Space Prize Foundation’s Space Education Curriculum. The initiative is designed to equip teachers across Africa with the tools and resources they need to empower young minds, particularly young women, to pursue careers in scientific and engineering fields. The open source curriculum is the first of its kind and was developed by leading science teachers across the United States of America. 

Key elements of this initiative include: 

Survey for Teacher Development: The Space Prize Foundation will conduct a comprehensive survey to identify the specific needs and levels of development required by teachers. The survey will delve into teaching styles, current practices in space education, and the resources available to educators. 

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Workshops for Curriculum Implementation and Teacher Empowerment: UNESCO and the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO will identify participating teachers. The first workshop will provide participating teachers with an introduction to the Space Education Curriculum. A leading expert in space education will guide teachers in customizing the curriculum for their students and schools. The second workshop will be dedicated to Q&A, ensuring teachers have time to digest the curriculum. 

Curriculum Reception: Following the initial workshops, teachers will be encouraged to present the tailored curriculum to their students at least twice a month. Feedback from this implementation will be reviewed in two 90-minute workshops to discuss the curriculum’s reception. 

Structured Roll-out in Q2 2024: The formal launch of the curriculum is scheduled for Q2 2024, during which the Space Prize Foundation, UNESCO and participating teachers will design the cadence of classes and schedule monthly review sessions. This flexible approach aims to cater to the unique needs and capacities of different educational settings. 

Impact Assessment: UNESCO will design an impact survey to measure the effectiveness of the Space Education Curriculum.

By commencing this journey in Rwanda, the Space Prize Foundation and UNESCO are laying the groundwork for a transformative educational initiative that will resonate across the continent. This partnership embodies a commitment to fostering the next generation of space enthusiasts, driving innovation, and building a brighter future for humanity. 

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Education

Digital technology a game changer for education in Africa

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Digital technologies and connectivity hold the key to unlocking the true potential of Africa’s young people. By opening up new opportunities for African youth to learn and for teachers to connect with students in the most remote and rural communities, these resources play an integral role in improving African education systems. But only if the right support mechanisms and policies are in place.

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This is one of the key points highlighted in new research by Vodacom Group, Vodafone and Safaricom, launched in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The research paper, entitled “How digital technologies can transform education in sub-Saharan Africa” unpacks the current state of education across the continent. It showcases how digital technologies and connectivity, combined with the necessary regulatory frameworks and support from governments as well as industry stakeholders, can be leveraged to mitigate barriers to education across the continent.

The research report outlines that there has been a sharp increase in access to education across Africa in the last 50 – 60 years but, unfortunately, an increase in access doesn’t necessarily translate into a rise in the quality of education being delivered. When coupled with affordable and reliable connectivity, digital tools and technologies offer a cost-effective and scalable solution to this problem by making it possible for young people to connect with highly-skilled educators who can help them translate educational content into valuable knowledge.

“We have witnessed this first-hand via our ecosystem of education projects and initiatives, which seek to provide access to quality educational assets, support remote learning and seek to enhance the overall educational experience for teachers and learners in some of Africa’s most under-resourced communities,” says Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group.

“Our Vodacom e-School programme in South Africa is a prime example of this”, he adds. The initiative promotes digital education by providing free access to quality education for Primary and High School students (Grade R to 12). This includes access to digital learning materials (like interactive textbooks, multimedia content and assessments), other educational resources and support services. The platform is available on mobile and desktop devices, free of charge, for all Vodacom customers.

“Access to quality education is critical to combatting intergenerational cycles of poverty and inequality. Nelson Mandela always stressed how important education is, not only for self-actualisation and individual transformation, but also in shifting the trajectory of society towards equity, justice and a shared dignity,” says Professor Verne Harris, Acting CEO for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

While there is no doubt that these digital innovations have the potential to totally transform African education, there are a number of barriers to digital access that prevent African youth from making the most of them. For Professor Jonathan Jansen, an internationally renowned education expert and one of the authors of the research paper, these stumbling blocks include everything from lack of reliable electricity, limited technical support and lackluster Internet access to language barriers, political instability and restrictive social norms. But with the right policies, infrastructure and investments in place, digitalisation can provide new opportunities for Africa’s young people to enjoy a more equitable, sustainable and connected future, he says.

“Each of these hurdles can be overcome through the right partnerships, interventions and ecosystems. Importantly, addressing these obstacles demands political buy-in and support from governments to ensure that the mechanisms put in place are appropriate in that they meet African learners and educators where they are,” continues Professor Jansen.

In action, this means developing and implementing regulations that support digital education, building strategic partnerships and investing in digital infrastructure. In addition to this, African governments have to be enablers of small-scale digital education projects and must make a concerted effort to transform teacher training to meet the demands of digital learning.

There is no doubt that the challenge that lies ahead is an arduous one, confirms Joosub. “It is critical that we take the time to understand Africa’s economic, social and political environment so that we can bring together the right stakeholders – from those at the top in government to the students in classrooms in the most remote corners of our continent – to come up with solutions. In doing so, we can unite to fix the problems we face as a collective so that we can ensure that our young people are equipped with everything they need to add value to their communities and can properly participate in the digital economy.”

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