WORRIED about the low level of in information technology (IT) penetration in the country, participants at an IT conference in Abuja came up with a recommendation that Nigeria should develop her local software and hardware in information and communication technology (ICT). This, they believed, will give the country and its citizens the ownership of the contents of their ICT education curriculum.
Besides, the forum, in a communiqué, urged the federal government to as a matter of national urgency, fast track the implementation of the national identity management project, with a view to tackling the on-going incidence of social insecurity prevalent in the country.
The forum was the 7th International Conference on ICT put together by the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in collaboration with the National Defence College (NDC) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, United States. It drew participation from among IT practitioners and some 39 tertiary institutions as well as six corporate concerns in the country.
With the theme: “Application of ICT to Teaching, Research and Administration,” (AICTTRA) the forum, according to the organizers, was to provide ICT experts drawn from the various spheres to share practical experiences in the area of ICT applications as well as providing the opportunities to them to present and observe the latest research in the area of ICT applications.
Prior to the formal declaration on Tuesday, there was a one-day pre-conference workshop a day before on “Writing Proposal and Grant Management” facilitated by Resources persons from the Training Centre in Communication (TCC), University of Nairobi, Kenya. They included Tony Omwansa from the Training Centre in Communication, Gecaga Institute Building, University of Nairobi as well as Joy Owango, Centre Manager from the same institution.
Part of the resolutions stressed the need for institutions to endeavour to acquire ICT solutions rather than just purchase of hardware products/equipment/devices ICT equipment/devices should be produced locally in Nigeria. Our educational institutions should leverage on what our students have grown up with like computers, mobile phones and the Internet to enhance delivery of education content.
“Besides, we must evolve a common core in our curriculum that seeks to equip our students with the ability to tackle issues of significance to humanity. Basic infrastructure such as electricity, bandwidth, and national network backbone are sine qua non requirements for any meaningful development of ICT and its deployment.
“Local contents of Software & Hardware in ICT education should be encouraged CS curriculum should emphasize rigorous programming E-education being the most effective and economic method to increase the quality of education should be embraced.”
“For the security of the nation, it is highly imperative for the government to focus/emphasize on effective national identity management. Software development should be localized to reduce dependence on exported software products/solutions
In their separate messages to the opening of the forum past Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Prof. Michael Oladimeji Faborode, his successor, Prof. Bamitale Omole and the Commandant of the National Defence College (NDC), Rear Admiral Thomas Jonah Lokoson all agreed on the need for the authorities to embark on a total re-structuring of the curricula of Nigeria’s education system by infusing a high content of information technology, (IT), especially the university sub-sector to make them to be internationally competitive.
Of particular emphasis for them is the need to provide adequate funding of research to provide platforms for researchers, education deliverers, administrators and those in the private sector to exchange ideas and practical experiences in the area of information and communication technology, (ICT).
Speaking as chairman of the occasion, Faborode, who is currently the Secretary-General of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), however, noted that, while it was important to try to catch up with the rest of the global players, there was the urgent to develop a sense of national pride.
For him, even with the increasing usage of mobile phones and Internet in enhancing connectivity by Nigeria ’s younger generation, the sense of community and belonging must still be retained. “Therefore, if we aspire to produce leaders for tomorrow, we must help our students understand the importance of global cultural diversity, and we must support and facilitate the development of their sense of national and global citizenship.
“We must evolve a common core in our curriculum that seeks to equip our students with the ability to tackle issues of significance to humanity, starting from our specific environment, from an inter-disciplinary perspective.”
The former vice-chancellor re-stated the need to re-invigorate the tripartite functions of universities, including research, teaching and learning, stressing that universities must be centres of scholarly activities and knowledge advancement through research and creative work, adding, “Only then can they holistically impart the totality of skills that will develop in their products total humanity.”
Omole, who was represented by the Dean of Faculty of Technology of the university, Prof. Funso Akeredolu, said the university was committed to ensuring that it maintain its pioneer position in the ICT industry in the country, noting, that was why it decided to partner with the Defence College to ensure that the message of ICT as a revolution is well spread.
Also speaking, the NDC Lokoson, who was represented by his deputy, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Inuwa Idris noted that ICT had the potential to accelerate, enrich and deepen skills; to motivate and engage students in learning to help relate school experiences to work practices; to help create economic viability for future workers and contribute to radical changes in the nation’s institutions.
According to him, “Looking at the role of education in nation building, the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process become imperative. This is true because its adoption by the teachers will enhance effective teaching. Such issues like good course organization, effective class management, content creation, self-assessment, self-study collaborative learning, task-oriented activities and effective communication between the actors of teaching and learning process and research activities will be enhanced by the use of ICT-based technology.
“However, for us as a nation, we observe that, there are limited functional Internet facilities in most of our institutions. This situation has hindered exposure to the use of ICT in teaching, research and administration. Generally, we are faced with a situation where teachers as well as students appear not be sufficiently knowledgeable in the use of ICT because of the limited official training for booth the teachers and students in some of our schools and institutions.”
In their separate papers, the President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. Chris Uwaje and CEO/Chief Technopreneur HiiT Plc, Mr. Kayode Shobajo were united on the role of education as agent of socio economic development of any society.
Shobajo, who delivered the keynote paper, described education as “the smartest investment any country must make to safeguard her citizens present and future prosperity. “As a strategic investment, it is far cheaper than ignorance. Therefore, with the application of ICT in education, it has become relatively affordable compared with the traditional functions.
“The application of ICT in education is the solution that Nigeria needs to leap frog to prosperity if required political will and leadership capacity are deployed.”
Uwaje, who spoke on “Creative Class, Innovation and Sustainable Development: The Role of ICT –based Teaching” advocated the transformation of Nigerian universities into inspirational and innovative hubs with knowledge-based images, colours and breath life into the environment. Besides, he called on universities to collaborate a national database of teaching resources and a network of facilities to support and sustain life-long learning.
“There is the need to adopt a futuristic approach to construct global scale knowledge forum with advanced ICT. For instance, with the use of massive parallel globally distributed and yet interconnected mini-super computers and the world through global broadband internet (GBI) of global neural computer network. Therefore, there is the need to encourage From Industries to Campus model of teaching learning and research.”