EDUCATION: Laurels For Opon Imo

opon_imoAt the debut of Opon Imo – tablet of knowledge – on May 13th this year, Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola knew that it would be celebrated within and outside the shores of Nigeria. But he was unaware that it was going to garner laurels across the globe and in quick succession in torrential rapidity. Apart from being applauded by the World Bank, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, and the Minister of Finance and Coordinating for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjor-Iweala, Opon Imo has become a metaphor as an e-learning device of all time.

Ogbeni was right on point when he said: ”We are breaking a yoke of nothingness; the yoke of irrelevance that our continent has been under for a long time. Nobody expects anything from our continent but we are sending signals to the world that the Africans have arrived; that we no longer accept the tag of the a continent without a future. To me, that is the statement we have made with the launch of this hand held device.

”The idea of an electronic tablet is not our invention and we make no such claims.  But we have made something completely new and there is none like it in the face of the world.  Other tools do not have pre-loaded materials like this; you must get to the internet to upload.  It is a complete system that does not need to interface with others. It was commended by Harvard University. It is the first major learning device for self study.”

Thus a science student, who has interest in literature and does not offer it, can still dip into literature texts at his leisure. In the same way, an arts student can learn about scientific concepts that intrigue him purely for knowledge sake, while the other modules in the Opon-Imo application are largely worked on by WAEC and JAMB examiners with the Osun State Teaching Service. In other words, the contents are all locally-sourced. Opon Imo, which was made to go through various levels of mechanical stress test, as this can be verified from UNIOSUN ICT Department, is the first of its kind ‘’stand-alone e-learning tool’ in Africa and arguably in the world.

As expected, the news has filtered  in that the esteemed Opon-Imo (Tablet of Knowlegde) won a World Summit Award in the e-Learning and Science Category. The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global initiative for selecting and promoting the world’s best electronic media and applications. It sees the bridging of the digital divide and narrowing of the “Content Gap” as its overall goal and, as of 2006, it involves representatives from 168 countries on each continent.

Putting its focus on cultural identity and diversity, the WSA looks for multimedia projects that effectively and creatively work with quality contents and digitise educational, scientific and cultural heritage. Eminent national experts from more than 100 UN member-states nominated 461 national nominees to compete against each other to win the World Summit Award 2013. There were five nominees of various WSA categories from Nigeria namely; Transparent Nigeria in the e-Government and Open Category, Locate Care in the e-Health and Environment Category, Opon Imo in the e-Learning & Science Category, Efiko Quiz Game in the e-Entertainment and Games Category, TWO TV Network in the e-Media and Journalism Category and i-Teller, Category.

After careful examination of the entire 461 world nominees by 17 Grand Jury members, who converged for three days in the city of Tallinn, Republic of Estonia, Northern Europe to judge, 40 WSA winners were chosen for 2013 WSA Summit Awards and of the 40 WSA winner Opon Imo was outstanding in e-Learning & Science Category .

The 40 WSA winners are to be invited to present their projects for the e-Content Creativity competition at the WSA Global Congress 2013 in Sri Lanka (Oct 23-26). Check However, based on the project presentations at the WSA Global Congress in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from October 23rd to 26th, a Global Champion is picked and announced at the Award Ceremony and Gala Night.

In the same vain, the innovative e-learning devise has also been nominated for the Nigerian Telecom Awards 2013. The Tablet of Knowledge was nominated under the category of African Most Innovative Product of the Year. The award comes up on September 20 at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos. Other categories of the awards includes African Telecom of the Year; African Telecom Personality of the Year; West Africa Mobile Operator of the Year; Computer Brand of the Year among others. Besides, in the category of ICT State of the Year, Osun also got nominated alongside Ekiti and Bauchi States.

The Opon Imo tablet, which was launched on Monday 13th May, provides three major content categories: e-library, virtual classroom and an integrated test zone. The e-library contains 63 e-books covering 17 academic subjects for examinations conducted by WAEC, NECO and JAMB as well as non-academic subjects such as History of The Yoruba, Sexuality Education, Civic Education, Ifa on ethics and morals, enterprise education as well as hints and tips on passing SSCE.

In the integrated test zone of the device, there are more than 40,000 JAMB and WAEC practice questions and answers dating back to about 10 years and mock tests in more than 51 subject areas, which approximates to 1,220 chapters, with roughly 29,000 questions referencing about 825 images. Other sections of the e-learning device are an average of 16 chapters per subject and 823 chapters in all, with about 900 minutes or 15 hours of audio voice-overs.

The state saved a whopping N8.4 billion from live textbook purchases and instead, just a sum N200 million was spent by the state government for the purchase of the 56 e-books on Opon-Imo with 150,000 user licenses from a major educational publishing company from the country. As it is structured, Opon-Imo ensures that each student has an e-textbook, not only in all the subjects he is taking, but also on every subject offered at secondary level. This in itself is revolutionary.

The tablet was distributed free of charge to students of public schools in the Senior Secondary I and II categories in the state. Opon Imo has been commended as one of the veritable tools of advancing and promoting easy learning and democratising education system not only in the state but across the country and beyond wherever it is embraced.

Opon Imo was the butt of the day at the Edo Information Communication Technology, ICT, Day, a few weeks ago. The State of Osun’s Director of ICT, Mr. Bambo Bashorun, stole the show at this year’s event held between  12-13 of September, in Benin City. Addressing a panel with the topic, “Fostering Governance with Technology”, Mr. Bambo reeled off the advantages of The Opon Imo to the captivated audience that drew applause for the novel initiative of Governor Aregbesola.

As it stands, Opon Imo has come to stay. We only hope that Governor Aregbesola’s successors sustains the laudable scheme, which was the major fear of Mr. Bambo’s co-panelists and everyone that graced the occasion.