Saturday, 1 March 2014
ICT In Ekiti: The Path We Ought Not To Have Traveled By Adewale Stephen
Education is primarily responsible for preparing a society for the future and moderating the adverse impacts of social and economic change. For being a part of this challenging economy in this part of the developing world as well as ensuring that able minds are prepared for the future development of the country, Nigerian teachers, as human developers, need to equip themselves with deeper understanding of their various areas of discipline. But this knowledge is by itself not sufficient. They, alongside their pupils, also need to be able to use technological facilities, handle information, communicate proficiently, reflect decisively, work well in groups, and turn out new logical and creative mechanisms that add value to their students/pupils lives. ICT is a means of meeting these challenges.
Therefore, when the news broke out recently that Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti had taken unusual innovative steps of promoting the ICT in the Secondary schools by his distribution of Computer Laptops to the Secondary school teachers across the state, words alone cannot describe how happy I reacted into this positive news. It is noteworthy that at this very time which the reasonable beings across the land are lamenting the non-performing insolences that have become the habitual hallmark of the Nigerian governors; that a State Governor has deemed it fit to launch a laudable programme that can help its poor citizenry to update their intellectual knowledge is noteworthy.
To me therefore, this is praiseworthy project that is worthy of emulation by other state governments and this made me to rise up from my enclave and headed to Ekiti to embark on a comprehensive research of this ICT’s innovation because my believe is that this achievement should not be limited to Ekiti State, it must be comprehensively researched on so as to ensure that this is embraced by all the Governors across the nation.
My hope of discovering something positive was dashed at the first secondary school I visited in Ado Ekiti, the state capital. As I gained entrance into the school, I looked for someone that could direct me to the principal’s office in order to seek permission to distribute questionnaires and sighted some boys and girls at an open corner, all with their laptops. I went to ask them the location of the principal’s office. Upon nearing, I found, to my uttermost dismay, that these students were using the laptops to watch films. I quickly introduced myself in order to open up a discussion and after some initial restraint towards whom they perceived as a stranger, they began to respond to my questions and through that I was able to find out that these set of students don’t even know the purpose behind the computers given to them.
The encounters I had with their teachers only furthered my consternation as a majority of them displayed a flagrant ignorance as to the purpose of the computers. From Ado Ekiti to Igede down to Ikole Ekiti, I was confronted with the similar depressed anecdote of the teachers and students who never knew the importance, value or usefulness of computers that were put at their disposal.
My findings revealed that while the initiative of the Ekiti State Government in giving out the computers to the teachers, with monthly deduction from their salaries, is commendable, the proper enabling environment for the usage of such computers in secondary schools is not created by the same government. As my findings revealed, the majority of the teachers are not competent even in the usage of word processing, not to talk of other computer applications. As a result teachers in Ekiti State have not gotten even the rudimentary experience of ICT skills and lessons from the technologically advanced country have shown that teachers’ mastery in ICT skills is acute to successful integration of ICT into teaching. As I write, teachers have found it difficult to shift from their customary manual mode of teaching in the state.
Rather than developing the teaching and learning enterprise, ICT has actually reduced the level of educational delivery in the state as the majority of the students are now busy with something else on their Samsung laptops. The kinds of films they can never watch at home are being watched in Ekiti State’s Secondary Schools. In fairness to the teachers and the students however, the enabling environment for the effective usage of such computers for learning were never created by their government.
For example, before we can begin to talk of e-teaching and e-learning in any state, the teachers and the students ought to have been exposed to computer education by the government. A student or a teacher who has never touched a computer before cannot be expected to start teaching; preparing lesson notes or learning on computers overnight. Apart from this, soft-copies of all the required textbooks of these students ought to have been uploaded on the computers before handing it over to them; provision of the internet facilities within the schools would have also made it possible for both the teachers and the students to get connected.
Instead of embarking on a careless spree with its taxpayers’ money, the government should have built a modern-equipped computer laboratory in each of the schools across the state; it should have employed more capable computer teachers to man these facilities. These experts would have presented the required requisite knowledge and skills of how to make use of computer technology in the classroom to both the teachers and the learners.
Another thing that causes for concern is the attitude of both the teachers and their principals. Or how can one explain a situation whereby students come to school with a load of various indecent films and neither the teachers nor the principal could say anything against this or take any drastic action to nip this menace in the bud? What is the duty of the Ekiti State Ministry of Education who is supposed to serve as a monitoring team of these schools? What are the mechanisms that the government put in place to make sure that these computers are properly used for their intended purposes?
To me, it appeared what the state government did was to procure these computers and give them out in order to score cheap political goals. The money used for this purpose could have been invested in a proper manner that would have received accolades from all and sundry and which the incoming generation would have been better off for. The introduction of ICT teaching is a very good project but this is a wrong way of implementing it because this path will undoubtedly lead us into failure. As far as I am concerned, if urgent measures are not taken, this endeavor will end up as another of Nigeria’s sad story of white-elephant projects.
Adewale Stephen works in the Department of History of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters