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An educated workforce increases our GDP – John Iyoha

In this interview with Amaka Abayomi, Mr. John Aiyemenre Iyoha, Managing Director, Abutech Training Academy, Gwarimpa, Abuja, talks about the relationship among ICT, education and national development, and the role of continuous education.

WHAT informed the setting up of Abutect Training Academy?
I am a scientist by training from the University of Ibadan, but I have always loved challenges which triggered my interest in ICT. Back then, there were very few schools into ICT training so I started reading to broaden my knowledge about ICT and I became Microsoft certified.

I started an institute of business studies in Festac, Lagos, 15 years ago, and later added the ICT training because almost all the schools then didn’t have computers and ICT centers. We used to go to schools’ proprietors to elicit the interests of their students in computer; if they agree, they schedule us in their time table.

I later set up a company that was involved in diverse areas of ICT because we were gradually moving into core training areas of ICT. With our gathering momentum in training and growth in business, we thought it necessary to separate the training from the other ICT businesses so that we can allow the training arm to grow. We have trained the Nigeria Police in Kano Zone, the Supreme Court, State House, among others.

Abutech Training Academy was set up solely for training purposes and we have four faculties – Information Technology Communications, Financial Management, Personnel/ Corporate Performance and Governance and Leadership. So this is a broad-based training institution. It was opened to the public in May 2012.

What are organisations like yours doing to change the trend whereby public schools lag behind in ICT?
This is a problem of awareness of importance of ICT, and is not limited to public schools. When we opened shop in May, we ran free trainings all Saturdays in May and June to elicit the interest of the public in ICT.

We are currently working on a project, ICT for Schools, which is a PTDF-sponsored project, whereby benefiting schools receive ICT centers with 50 computers powered by solar. This is done to expose students to the importance of ICT and also help open new avenues and possibilities for them. Aside this, we plan on interfacing with them regularly to train their teachers through the train-the-trainer programme.

What is your take on the calls by some people to scrap continuous education in Nigeria, against the backdrop that we are not getting the regular education right?

Continuous education and regular education are not the same thing because the regular schools cater for regular students. If one million people sit for UTME and 500,000 gain admission, what becomes of the remaining? They have to find ways to keep themselves busy, enhance their knowledge and seek other avenues to seek admission other than JAMB. And this is where continuous education comes to play. We should bear in mind that there are some people who want to go to school, but due to the nature of their jobs, can’t afford to be regular students. That is why there are evening and weekend classes for this class of people.

Is there any relationship among ICT, education and national development?
They are interwoven because one leads to the other. The role of ICT in education can’t be over- emphasised because ICT serves as a vehicle through which we get enlightened as it is a reservoir of knowledge. Assuming one is computer- literate and can use the internet very well, you stand a chance of acquiring more knowledge online. This would drastically bring down the illiteracy level because information and solutions to problems are just a click away.

In terms of national development, an enlightened workforce would contribute immensely to the overall growth of the country. I keep telling people there is nothing like unemployment just that most of our school leavers are not employable or have not been able to position themselves to be employed. People can actually go to the internet to learn new skills which would enable them contribute to national development.


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