Five Cowries Arts
Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative has launched an E-Learning Platform that enable SDG action in line with Nigeria’s education curriculum to supplement the printed worksheets released in 2020.
In 2020, while schools across Nigeria were closed to stem the spread of COVID-19, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative rose to the challenge and provided alternative learning materials for Nigerian students through the rollout of the “My Story of Water” worksheets.
The social enterprise has started off the new year by with innovation, launching fivecowries.online.–an innovative move, taking into consideration the need to adopt digital technology in ensuring safe and equitable access to learning materials. Fivecowries.online is a digital platform that allows users, both young children and teachers to access learning materials online including the digital versions of worksheets that were released last year.
The platform is set up for students of all ages to log on and immerse themselves in learning activities catered to their needs. The user-friendly platform has been built with funding from the International Relief Fund of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe Institute as well as in conjunction with Alliance Francaise Nigeria, Goethe Institut and UNICEF. These strategic partners have been crucial in supporting this project as they have all contributed their relevant knowledge and expertise in ensuring that the platform is as inclusive as possible.
To achieve this, Five Cowries Initiative has partnered with Alliance Francaise to translate the activities from English into several languages. Charles Courdent, the Director of Alliance Française in Lagos highlighted this saying, “the Five Cowries Project has been the right response to the very strange times we are living because of the pandemic.
As the first cultural network in the world, Alliance Française is very proud to partner with that enthusiastic adventure: not only by translating the contents into French, which is a broadly spoken language throughout the continent, but also to promote national languages such as Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa that Alliance Française de Lagos is happy to teach. This project will be shared through the French network with many other countries, in Africa and even beyond!”
The activities on the platform are keeping with Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative’s general goal, which is to enhance the quality of Nigeria’s education through the arts.
The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) champions creativity as a core skill for children and has maintained that creativity in learning encourages self-efficacy and solutions-oriented approaches in children. Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative has partnered with UNICEF in rolling out this innovative platform through which the key projects, “My Story of Water”, “My Story of Food”, “My Story of Energy” and “My Story of Balance”–which all align with Sustainable Development goals aims to reach wider audiences and, birth creativity in both students and teachers. For Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, “The experiences of the last year have shown that young people and children needed to develop new ways of learning.
The Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative has been working with educators in communities and homes to support the child’s learning experience by developing the creative soft skills needed for them to become effective young members of their community”
Speaking about the launch of fivecowries.online, Friederike Möschel Director of the Goethe Inistitue noted that getting involved with art and culture opens your mind and makes you curious. It inspires your creativity and lets you see the world around you in a new way. Every child should get the possibility to experience this, no matter where he/she lives, and the Five Cowries Arts Education Initiatives provides the means for it.-
The benefits of the platform go beyond the students themselves, they provide exciting learning materials for teachers and enrich the teaching experience. Community teaching plays an important role in Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative overarching strategy. 1 million teachers and Teach for Nigeria serve as a delivery partner with the learning worksheets and in empowering teachers across the country.
Oftentimes, teachers are ignored when we speak about improving learning outcomes and Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative has been committed to ensuring that these outcomes are extended to teachers as well. Alongside a commitment to upskilling staff, the Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative team in Lagos is made up of teachers and artists who if not for the disruptions caused by the pandemic would be running training workshops in communities. They have contributed to making sure that this new digital platform has a ‘Made in Nigeria’ feel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected education for millions of students and, Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative is working tirelessly to innovate solutions to support home learning and serve the out of school students across the country. By introducing this digital learning platform, which complements the worksheets and the current curriculum, this project is leading the way in changing the narrative of education and teaching in Nigeria. Fivecowries.online has set its sights on expansion beyond Nigeria and hopes to reach educators from Cape Town to the UK.