Information communication technology has no doubt changed the face of teaching and learning globally. And serious nations are taking the advantages inherent in ICT to impact on the educational sector.
Though Nigeria is also making efforts to join the ICT fray, these efforts appear to be ineffective. Computer laboratories are largely non-existent in many public schools across the country. And where they exist, they are nothing to cheer.
Due to this general neglect and other factors, comprising corruption, outdated curriculum, ill-motivated teachers, materialism and academic laziness on the part of pupils, the nation has been reaping mass failure in public examinations.
Arising from this, stakeholders are calling on government to provide basic facilities including ICT-driven teaching aids for the nation’s education system.
A professor of education at Lagos State University, Ademola Onifade, the immediate Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola and the Business Development Director, Intel West Africa, Mr. Stanley Muoneke, have called on government and members of the organised private sector to join hands and enhance the development of the sector.
They also called on all stakeholders to show more concern for those issues that affect basic education.
The World Bank also enumerated the advantages of ICT in driving education in any country.
According to the financial institution, secondary education, which is the crucial link between primary and tertiary education cum labour market should be strengthened.
The issue of gaps in the usage of ICT-driven instructional aids in schools also came to the fore during the public presentation of an exclusive educational content laptop for pupils. It was created by MTN Nigeria in partnership with Intel West Africa.
The device known as MTN Education Bundle comprises of laptop that is preloaded with a rich bouquet of exclusive educational content, specially designed for pupils in nursery to senior secondary schools for easy learning and exploration of the world via internet.
Enumerating the device’s content, the Corporate Services Executive of MTN, Mr. Wale Goodluck, said it was preloaded with Skoool.com, Intel PC basics, Intel AppUp Centre, Britannica, Zinox Card, Ajapa and with McAffe security software to aid and improve teaching and learning in schools.
Skoool.com is a proven platform that provides interactive e-learning at the pace of the students. The platform provides interactive digital lessons in mathematics, chemistry, physics, English language among other subjects.
When some pupils find it difficult to grasp certain topics at school, this platform gives them the opportunity to learn and understand those topics at their pace.
According to Muoneke, the MTN Education Bundle’s content for English, mathematics and science is mainly from the world-class Skoool content.
“However, beyond the international version, we have ensured that we have a unique Skoool Nigeria version. Intel had worked closely with the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure that the Skoool Nigeria content is certified and aligned with Nigeria curriculum for education,” he added.
On how to use the device to enhance learning, Muoneke explained that after a pupil had been taken through a topic, he or she could try the assessment questions on the platform to see if he or she had understood the topic.
“The assessment questions in turn give feedback whether the answers provided by the pupil are right or wrong. The platform leverages the expertise of the top teachers in their fields for the sourcing and development of the content that appears on skoool.com.
“The platform also provides a channel for teachers to get their knowledge updated in their areas of interest. The platform teaches them in the simplest and meticulous way, which improves both their knowledge in their fields and the way they pass on the acquired knowledge down to pupils,” he said.
Goodluck noted that because using a computer at a tender age might be a challenge for the pupils, MTN and Intel had also made available Intel PC Basics, which is a courseware or software that enhances ICT literacy and skills of users.
He added, “The courseware teaches inexperienced users of computer how to get started and how to use basic and common computer applications. This way, young people can acquire computer skills at an early age while deepening the use of Internet.”
In order to localise the content, Goodluck added that the device was also preloaded with Ajapa, a collection of stories aimed at introducing children to African folklore.
“It is a popular belief in this part of the world that African folklore teaches good morals, traditions, culture and beliefs. The sudden demise of such programmes like Tales by Moonlight on television may have starved the present generation of some those life-long lessons, traditions, culture beliefs they would have learnt. But with Ajapa, there is a renaissance of some sort to keep children entertained while also learning vital lessons key to their growth and development,” he said.
But the device is not about local content alone, Goodluck said that it was also preloaded with Encyclopedia Britannica from which children could source information on every topic imaginable from science to arts and social sciences, current affairs and lots more.
“It also has the Zinox card platform and this introduces pupils, teachers and parents to a huge learning centre, which provides resources to upgrade learning skills and close gaps in knowledge.
“The Zinox card provides practice tools, 500,000 e-books library, classic literature e-book, audio books, and parental e-books,” he added.
Some of the stakeholders at the presentation however expressed fears that the device could be put into a negative use by pupils as they could explore other websites that could be inimical to their moral and educational growth.
However, Goodluck explained that the two firms took cognisance of that possibility while designing the device, adding that preventive measure had been taking against such usage.
“We are conscious of that possibility and that is why McAfee protection had been preloaded to the MTN Education Bundle. It is done to protect children from exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks and other threats on the Internet.
“Adult content are blocked, it manages the time spent on the Internet, prevents the user to be in contact with strangers among other benefits. In a nutshell, it restricts the time of the user to meaningful educational and entertaining use.”
Again, some parents said that as good as the device is, lack of financial resources could limit its accessibility to the children of the rich alone.
They, however, called on government to equip ICT laboratories in schools and try as much as possible to collaborate with members of the organised private sector to develop ICT education in the nation’s education system.
“Some states like Rivers, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti are trying to reinvigorate ICT and computer studies in their schools. They can collaborate with MTN and Intel to ensure that all our children, particularly those in public schools are exposeed to ICT,” a parent, Mrs. Sade Oloko said.
Another public school teacher, Mr. Ademola Adebayo, said he was convinced that the use of ICT-driven instructional materials would go a long way in enhancing the educational growth of the nation.