Since it was founded in 2009, Care and Cuddles School in Abuja, Nigeria, has grown from a creche to a Nursery and Primary School. The school’s mission is to provide excellent Childcare and Early Childhood Education in a trusting, safe and happy environment. They aim to prepare their learners for lifelong learning experiences.
However, the way the school was able to deliver these learning experiences was challenged when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nigeria. Many businesses and schools, including Care and Cuddles, were forced to close their doors and send their pupils and staff home. On learning about the lockdown, Ashley Roberts (school parent) says: “My first reaction was confusion and a little bit of panic.”
The school Principal at Care and Cuddles, Mrs. Nguavese Abiodun Idiabana, says: ”The first thing that came to my mind was, how do I continue teaching these children?”
After searching for alternative ways to teach the students and learners whilst they were at home, Mrs Idiabana informed the staff that the school would start using an interactive/digital platform. During the process of setting up the digital learning platform Mrs Idiabana had initially found, she soon realised that particular service had a lot of challenges. Mrs Idiabana says, “The school needed a solution that was fast and easy to set up. I knew there had to be something better out there.”
During the search for another solution, Mrs Idiabana discovered Google for Education and its suite of products including those focused on collaboration and remote learning to help schools navigate disruption. She decided that she would utilise Google classroom to allow her staff to continue teaching remotely. She says: “It was very easy to set up and we didn’t need to download and upload everything - we could just do everything on Google Drive. The environment itself is very organised and there’s so many inbuilt apps that are all linked together. Our learners could easily move from using the PCs to the laptops to mobile devices like tablets.”
Lessons were taught and exams were conducted through using the Google classroom platform. Teachers and staff at the school began noticing that the new digital learning tools were creating more independent learners - students were able to learn, do a test, see their scores and self-appraise on a daily basis.
School parent, Mrs. Nene Oche, explained: “It really helped them evolve a lot into these individuals who could actually begin to think for themselves. They have improved their problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.”
Now that the lockdown has eased, the children have been able to go back to school. With the success of implementing Google classroom into the children’s learning, the staff at the school believe that it is here to stay and has become a part of the way students learn.
Mrs Idiabana says: “Students are excited about the hybrid nature of their learning and now the child can always connect back and not have to miss anything in class.”
Despite the chaos the pandemic brought, 90% of learners at Care and Cuddles school were able to complete their curriculum - the average completion rate in Nigeria is 68%*. For the students, there was no interruption, the only thing that happened was that they were not physically present with each other - the students are making up for this now that they are back together in the classroom.
Summarising the whole experience, Mrs Ashley Roberts comments: “I feel blessed that my children had that opportunity to continue learning, even in the midst of the pandemic.”
*The Nigerian Education Indicator (2016)