The ASNE Conference, which is a two day event, kicked off on Thursday 18th of May 2023 and was hosted at the Wetlands Hotel in Wuye, Abuja. And the theme for this year was, ‘Towards Education Agility’- the beginning of change is CONVERSATION!
The Lead Moderator for the program was Kingsley Bangwell, the Team Lead at Youngstars Development Initiative and Co-Founder of The KNOSK N100-a-day Secondary School. This was followed by a welcome address by the ASNE Convener, Emem Opashi. She began her address by stating how The Annual School Needs Expo (ASNE) has become a global platform that continues to gather together key players in the public and private education space, hosting hundreds of guests converging from across the country and the world at large.
Emem also took a brief moment to initiate discussion on the theme of the event which is “Towards Education Agility – The Beginning of Change is CONVERSATION”. She highlighted its goal which is to foster a culture of conversation in education to promote agility, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. As a conclusion to her address she said, ‘We welcome you specially to this year’s event and we trust that our lineup of seasoned facilitators, speakers and activities will help to totally transform your brand! You will get to network with all levels of stakeholders, forge new partnerships and get better visibility!’
The ASNE convener’s speech was followed with one by WOWBii Interactive, the programme’s headline sponsor. WOWBii, which happens to be Africa’s pioneer manufacturer of Interactive Flat Panel Displays (IFPD) set itself a goal from the onset, ‘to transform the way Africa works and learns’. WOWBii’s solutions span the corporate and education sectors with a widespread adoption of their novel interactive touchscreens.
As headline sponsors of ASNE 2023, WOWBii emphasized the need for more schools to embrace the transformative power of interactive learning in promoting education agility. He also emphasized his company’s commitment to bridging the digital divide and providing accessible interactive learning solutions to empower educators and students across Africa. He ended his address by encouraging participants to adopt interactive technology as a catalyst for change and innovation in education.
Sir Gbolahan Olayomi, the Founder and Group Managing Director of WOWBii shared with the delegates the journey of WOWBii over the last 3 decades as a technology service-provider. He revealed the plan to open up a state-of-the art teacher training center in Lagos. Over the years, it has invested significant resources in training thousands of teachers and providing incentives for teachers through their WOW-Teachers program. He revealed that he considers education as an asset to Wowbii, which he considers to primarily be a space management organisation, just as he sees Wowbii as a vision enabler for the African continent.
The first session on Enabling or Upscaling Education (Best case scenarios, What Ifs, Outlook etc.) was led by Mrs Angela Ajala and Mr Abba Saidu. In her talk, Mrs Ajala, The Executive Director of Ladela Schools and External Board Member, BIC Corporate Foundation, presented best-case scenarios and explored potential future outcomes in education. She highlighted the need for increased financing to upscale education solutions through collaboration with key stakeholders like the Bank of Industry.
Mrs Ajala highlighted the importance of embracing technology to enhance learning experiences, particularly in remote and underserved areas. She emphasized the need for innovative approaches, such as blended learning models and digital resources, to bridge educational gaps and ensure equitable access to quality education.
Mrs. Ajala’s session aimed to inspire participants with a forward-thinking outlook on the transformative potential of education.
The discourse presented participants on the different tables at the conference the opportunity to share their different experiences, frustrations as well as to recommend where policy can be modified to benefit operators in the education space. Conversations touched on which kind of personalized learning should be prioritised, the need to increase collaboration, global perspectives and many more. One of the participants, Mrs Bolaji Osimen shared about the funding challenge school owners experience. She mentioned that she has looked at several possible revenue streams with the goal of sustainability. She also charged financial service providers to collaborate with schools. Another participant, Mr Sylvanus highlighted the need to focus on teacher development and training. He shared some of the steps that his school has taken in that regard. Coach Ikalone Udo highlighted the need to prioritize mental wellbeing and emotional health of children. Mrs Sola Bankole highlighted the issue of the quality of assessment and the menace examination malpractice has become as a barrier to building critical thinking. And to round up one segment of the discussions, Sir Gbolahan spoke about education financing. He talked about how the main issue is the customer credibility problem and how WOWBii is keen to help school owners present, to access credit interventions.
Mr Abba Saidu, a co-lead discussant for the first session focused on the “what if” scenarios in education and shared insights on how to maximize the positive impact of transformative changes. He advocated for a change in the methodology of teaching. He made reference to his school, Glisten International Academy. He spoke about how his students developed useful solutions during the Covid pandemic. Abba Saidu discussed the potential of personalized learning, adaptive technologies, and data-driven approaches to cater to diverse learning needs. He emphasized the importance of empowering educators through professional development and collaboration. Abba Saidu’s session aimed to spark participants’ imagination and encourage proactive thinking about the future of education, while highlighting the role of educators as change agents.
Mrs Angelina Ikeako gave the conversation summary where she recognized the effort of WOWBii in providing a wow learning experience. She summarized some of the talking points earlier mentioned and spotlighted the average Nigerian child needs. She drew the attention of the conference attendees to a UNICEF study which discovered that 6 in every 10 children suffers abuse and that 34% of affluent males are molested before they turn 18.
The collective submission during this session was the need for development partner interventions and for them to play a role in supporting education development in the public sector. It was disclosed that various initiatives and partnerships exist that have contributed to improving education outcomes including funding support, technical assistance, and capacity building programs. However, emphasis must continue to be placed on the importance of collaboration between development partners, governments, and local stakeholders to ensure sustainable and impactful interventions in education.