Nigeria needs to integrate ICT into its educational system to drive economic development, Accenture Nigeria says.
The Country Managing Director, Accenture Nigeria, Niyi Yusuf, has called for an effective integration of Information Communication Technology, ICT, into its educational system and schools.
He said this is the way can experience improvement in the quality of lives of the people and to successfully drive and sustain economic development, productivity and per-capita income.
“In the last decade, countries have advanced through an aggressive development of Technology Capacity. This is evident from the rapid economic development of India and South Asian countries due to their deliberate policy and actions on technology capacity building” he said, in a document titled ‘Youth Relevance to Sustainable National Development through IT: ICT Education and Technology Capacity Building in Nigeria.”
Mr. Yusuf added that in leading economies, technology capacity building generally led to the improvement of the economies through the active collaboration between the government, universities, industries and research institutions. He said many countries are currently enjoying a developed economy as a result of their core focus on building technology capacity through the provision of adequate capital to enable highly skilled individuals in Information and Communication Technology.
“ICT integration in education is a complex and protracted process. For Nigeria to facilitate Technology Capacity Building and integrate ICT, in will need to go through four broad stages of ICT integration. They are: Emerging: discovering ICT tools and their general functions and uses, Applying: learning how to use ICT tools, Infusing: understanding of how and when to use ICT tools to achieve a particular purpose, and Transforming: a new way of approaching teaching and learning situations with specialized ICT tools,” said Mr. Yusuf.
Nigeria, with an estimated population of 160 million people, 128 Universities, over 75 Polytechnics , 26 Research and Development Centres and thousands of Primary and Secondary Schools, has taken some steps to build its technology capacity over the last 10 years through the formulation of a National IT Policy, establishment of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP, formulation of a new nine-year Basic Education Curriculum that includes ICT, establishment of Mobile Telecommunications and Broadband Companies and the Setup of the Ministry of Communications Technology.
Mr. Yusuf held that while these steps are commendable they are still inadequate to solve Nigeria’s ICT challenges.
“While these actions and existing infrastructure address Capacity Building at the investment and institution levels, capacity building at the instruction level is still too inadequate to drive the needed economic development. A further study of the situation reveals that the current educational curriculum does not cater for ICT in education for both teachers and students” Mr. Yusuf said.
Mr. Yusuf identified some of the challenges facing Nigeria’s information technology education and technology capacity building as lack of sound policy framework and support strategies to drive ICT integration with education, poor link between academia and the industry, lack of ICT skills by most teachers (especially subject teachers), absence of integration and interaction across the Nigerian institutions, among others.
He said with technology capacity at the core of economic development in various industries including education, health, agriculture, financial services, tourism, among others, more effective imperatives need to be taken.
“These include the presence of an education policy framework which addresses the facilitation of Technology Capacity Building and in essence, its sustenance within the economy; Effective Information Technology network through a proper spatial distribution of Technology Capacity Building institutions and facilities across all national regions; Availability of an effective educational structure which produces “trained” trainers with the capacity to provide adequate training using up-to-date ICT content materials, Presence of adequate infrastructure to enable efficient operations and collaboration between Technology Capacity Building institutions” he said.
ICT Minister’s efforts
Some experts have said there is a wide gap between the ICT development in Africa and the rest of the world. Efforts have, however, been made by the Minister of ICT, Omobola Johnson, to improve growth in the sector. At an event last year, she said funds were being raised to support information technology ideas from young people who may not be able to access funds from banks.
The Minister also highlighted other moves to aid the sector. They include the national policy with a main objective to “create a conducive environment for the rapid expansion of ICT networks and services that are accessible to all at reasonable costs and for the transformation of Nigeria into a knowledge-based economy.”
The policy also states that the paucity of information technology infrastructure in the county has greatly hindered the efficient and affordable ICT services to the citizens. It is also meant to focus on the development of the national ICT backbone and Broadband infrastructure; infrastructure that will foster digital literacy and internet usage, affordable Universal Access to ICT and national physical infrastructure (including power).
“Internet and Broadband have been globally acknowledged as the foundation for transformation to the knowledge economy. Broadband has the potential of enabling new industries and changing how we educate our children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government and access, organise and dissect knowledge. Even though there are some initiatives aimed at deploying broadband in Nigeria, there is need to accelerate on-going efforts and introduce new initiatives. This is necessary for the actualisation of the developmental goals of 20:20:20,” the draft states.