Digital technologies are constantly evolving and they are rapidly becoming part of children’s sociocultural experiences outside formal educational settings. In this interview with Olaseni Durojaiye, Director, Consumer Segment, Etisalat Nigeria, Adeolu Dairo, explores the role of technology in early childhood education
How can ICT contribute to child-focused development efforts?
ICT has a lot to offer to support and amplify the impact of a variety of child education and development efforts. For this to be successful, the focus will has to first and foremost be on the needs of the child, not just the fact that the technology is available, and certainly not for the sake of innovation only.
It is important to establish the needs of the child and consider the local context of the child’s learning environment. Factors such as availability and reliability of electricity, affordability of internet access and the local education curriculum play a major role in developing technological solutions that can benefit the child.
It is also important to assess the role that intermediaries such as parents, teachers, community or social workers, play in the lives of children especially in the African context. At Etisalat we take cognizance of such considerations in developing innovative solutions such as Cliqlite and Cliqliteworld.
Do you see technology playing a major role in the Nigerian Educational system?
Certainly, technology can play a major role in childhood education. It has become essential to support learning, and assist communication, creativity and language development in young children and provide greater access to curriculum. The issue is not, whether technology should be considered and used in early childhood education settings, but how it is applied.
Today’s children are born into a digital world, they are native users of technology, fluent in the digital language of computers, video games and the internet. It is therefore necessary to engage them with technology if they must become relevant in the society.
This is what inspired us at Etisalat to develop Cliqlite our child-friendly educational tool. Cliqlite is designed to engage children, raise their confidence and motivate them to study more. It is motivational because of its capacity to make school work more enjoyable and also its ability to appeal to the children’s perceptions of achievement since children regard technology as ‘cool’.
Etisalat recently launched a new product called Cliqliteworld, tell us how Cliqlite evolved into this new product.
Cliqliteworld is an online platform that has been specially designed to be a one stop shop for everything education and fun. The portal contains approved content for Kindergarten, Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary school students. There are textbooks as well as practice questions that cover all subjects. Cliqliteworld brings to life the Cliqlite vision, which is to make learning fun by introducing educational games as well as moral building and entertaining comic books. With Cliqliteworld, we are using what children love (that is devices and technology) to give them what they need (quality education).
What is the difference between this new product Cliqliteworld and the Cliqlite tablet that was launched two years ago?
Cliqlite is the main product that delivers both telecommunication and educational services to Children, particularly those aged 8-15 years old. Cliqliteworld is simply one of the features of Cliqlite same as the Cliqlite tablet. The Cliqlite tablet comes preloaded with approved NERDC and IGCSE text books, interactive lessons, JAMB, SSCE and IGCSE past questions while Cliqliteworld offers the same content in a more affordable format as it can be accessed from any internet enabled device.
Cliqliteworld is the first-of-its kind within the Nigerian Telecom Industry. It is a true reflection of the innovative nature of Etisalat. At Etisalat, we are always looking for new ways to create and give extra value to our numerous customers that is why it is not surprising that we have come up with this innovative product.
Who are the target audience for Cliqliteworld?
Cliqliteworld is targeted at children and teenagers, on Cliqliteworld; you have content for children as low as 2years old and you have content for teenagers preparing for entry exams into Tertiary institutions. So it is very rich and diverse. To register on Cliqliteworld is very easy. For new customers, just buy an Etisalat SIM, register it, dial 200 and press 5 to select Cliqlite. Existing Customers need to dial *244*10# to migrate to Cliqlite, then login to www.cliqliteworld.com.ng and begin the simple signup process.
Is there any requirement for registration?
To gain full access to all the content on Cliqliteworld, children must be on the Etisalat Cliqlite package. However, parents can also complete the registration process for their children on the portal without necessarily being on the Etisalat network.
Many parents try as much as possible to keep their underage children off the internet because of the obvious threats of sensitive content online. Does Cliqliteworld in any way protect children while surfing the net?
We are very aware of these threats and that is the reason we created both a Data and Voice Parental control feature on Cliqlite. For the Data control feature, parents can be rest assured that their children are safe online as they are able to select sensitive words and content that they do not want their children to access. To use this service just dial *229*11# from an Etisalat line. To access the voice parental control just send Help to 704 also from an Etisalat line.
With the slow internet penetration in Nigeria, do you think students for whom the product is meant for would be able to access it, most especially students in the rural areas?
Internet penetration is on a rapid increase in Nigeria and as a Network we are part of this expansion of internet services to rural areas. We have also gone a step further to give complimentary data to customers who subscribe to either the daily, weekly or monthly service on Cliqliteworld, thus making access -even more affordable.
Access to Cliqliteworld is as low as N50 and this gives full access to textbooks and practice questions. There are also educational games which help to develop children’s memory. We have entertaining comic books that teach morals and the product would not be complete without the traditional Etisalat freebie, so in addition to all the bonuses on recharge, Children also get free credit on their registered birthday.
With initiatives like Adopt-A-School, School Support Programme, Merit Award and other initiatives, Etisalat’s CSR footprint is quite obvious in the education sector. Is there a particular reason for this?