Stephen Hawking the legendary physicist once said “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious”
I love vacations. The sun, the sandy beaches and the other fun stuff. But there is another part of my vacation that I equally cherish. It is the serenity of early mornings and the tranquillity of late nights.
The quietude presents a time of solitude. A period for reflection and meditation. It awakens my curiosity and the longing to learn more and more and more…
I am Cmoni, an entrepreneur, adventurer and aspiring writer. I was born in the most populous black nation. A country blessed with enormous human and material resources yet unable to fulfil its potential. A common problem in the developing world.
Nigeria has a teeming youth population. The UN projects, about 70% of Nigerian youths to be under 30, many of whom are uneducated. But I’ve been lucky, graduating in my 20s and currently pursuing a 3rd degree in Ireland.
Historically, governments have played a dominant role in funding tertiary education because of the need to bridge the gap created by departing expatriate workers in the wake of independence from colonial masters.
The exigency to train a group of professionals was well appreciated; thus in the 70s the Nigerian government abolished school fees in tertiary institutions and took up the task of funding them.
With the attendant oil boom in the same period, it wasn’t a difficult task. The future looked bright. This precipitated an increase in the demand for higher education, which in turn led to additional universities, colleges and polytechnics.
However, a combination of factors including a geometric increase in student population posed a problem. Successive governments struggled to fund tertiary education leading to a gradual decline in the standard of education.
But there is a solution. Much of the world has been reshaped by the internet and e-Learning. No nation should be caught in the paradox of spiralling costs and a declining standard of education at a time when information is more accessible than ever.
Therefore, the task of improving literacy and knowledge acquisition should be a collective priority for countries like Nigeria. But how can we do this? What will be the strategy? What tools, processes, techniques and methods should be deployed?
Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the world wide web said that the web is about connecting humanity. Knowledge is increasingly acquired outside the traditional institution environment especially through the internet.
The best way to start is to pick a domain of one’s own. That was how cmonionline.com was conceptualised in 2017. I wanted to elicit discourse by publishing my opinion on topical issues thereby creating an online version of Habermas’ Public Sphere.
I wrote on varying sociopolitical issues. I discovered that the more I published the more I improved not just in my writing but also in technological skills like WordPress, web and graphic design.
But then if you want to walk fast you walk alone but if you want to go far you walk together. What better way to learn than together? So in 2020, I started a weekly essay competition. The idea was to build a community of readers, writers and thinkers.
I also created the #CmonionlineSundayPuzzle, a weekly exercise of puzzles, riddles and brain teasers. We have fun learning new stuff and in both activities, winners are always rewarded with prizes as tokens of encouragement.
So far we have published over 500 essays from about 50 different writers. With support from friends, we have paid out over N2 million in cash prizes. We also have a growing audience with a combined social media following of over 10,000.
But most importantly we started a journey together. We are set to elevate. We will create more digital communities of practice, tribes and classes for activities of interest. The free distribution of knowledge and peer review will form the crucible of our growth.
Together we will develop portfolios, modules and learning outcomes using varying research methods and strategies. We will utilise the opportunities offered by digital tools such as zoom, teams and slack in the process.
We will also collaborate with leading global knowledge providers like Coursera, LinkedIn, skillshare and others. So visit cmonionline.com and be part of a learning community where you reward your intellect and pocket!