THE National ICT Week was declared open by the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja last Monday. In light of a declaration by the Minister of State for Education, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike that the Federal Government is commitment to infuse information and communication technology, ICT, into the educational curriculum of primary and secondary schools in order to empower the next generation for national development, I hereby reproduce part of what I wrote in this column in our edition of wednesday 15 February under the headline: Where are we with NEPAD’s e-schools?
As far back as 2004, NEPAD, or the New Partnership for African Development facilitated a workshop on what was called the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative. 16 African nations were constituted into phase one of the programme, said to be voluntary, and they include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo (Republic of), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, and Mauritius. The rest are Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.
As stated, objectives of the NEPAD e-Schools Initiative include:
- To provide ICT skills and knowledge to primary and secondary school students that will enable them to function in the emerging Information Society and Knowledge Economy;
- To make every learner health literate;
- To provide teachers with ICT skills to enable them to use ICT as tools to enhance teaching and learning; and
- To provide school managers with ICT skills so as to facilitate the efficient management and administration in the schools.
NEPAD went further to specify attributes of an e-school. These are:
- Possession of appropriate ICT equipment and infrastructure;
- Connection to the Internet;
- Teachers trained to impart ICTs skills to students according to agreed curriculum and content;
- Teachers trained to use ICTs for teaching and learning;
- Access, and contribution to appropriate teaching and learning materials;
- It has ICTs as tools to enhance the administration and management of the school; and
- Equipment with a “health point.”
NEPAD also advised that special attention be given to the provision of electricity including alternative sources such as solar power where necessary. Adequate physical infrastructure will also be provided to ensure safety and security of equipment in the schools.
Where are we?
Just how many schools in Nigeria today have these attributes? If you look around, you will see that the perimeter fences of most schools are ringed round by shops selling items that shouldn’t be sold near schools, especially in our towns and cities.
As a result of lack of electricity and security, many school premises are often the hideouts of undesirables in society. That is aside the fact that many of these primary and secondary schools are not wired for basic electricity, talk less for ICT. And the teachers? How many of them are ICT-compliant? When will the curriculum of teacher education be overhauled to accommodate the need for ICT?
In short, why are we still wobbling and fumbling with the chalk board in the 21st century, when children in other countries our leaders love to visit are learning with the keyboard and the motherboard?