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IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES A PAPER PRESENTED BY DR. C.O. UWADIA DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS EMAIL: couwadia@unilag.edu couwadia@yahoo.com AT THE 2 ND GLOBAL NCS/NITPA IT CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON DC MARCH 11 TH – 15 TH , 2003.

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It education in nigeria challenges and opportunities l.jpg

IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES


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A PAPER PRESENTED BY

DR. C.O. UWADIA

DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCES,

UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS

EMAIL: couwadia@unilag.edu

couwadia@yahoo.com

AT

THE 2ND GLOBAL NCS/NITPA IT CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON DC

MARCH 11TH – 15TH , 2003.


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SCOPE OF PRESENTATION

  • What is IT Education?

  • Implications of IT Education.

  • State of IT Education in Nigeria.

  • Challenges and Opportunities

  • Conclusion.


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What Is IT Education?

  • The body of knowledge encompassing theory, principles, techniques, practice and skills spanning such disciplines as Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems, Software Engineering, Information Technology and other related disciplines.

  • Levels of IT Education: Tertiary, High School, Vocational, Elementary. Awareness & Literacy, Continuing Education and Certification


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Implications of IT Education

  • IT has become a catalyst and an engine of social, economic, and political growth & development worldwide.

  • A well-developed IT industry is capable of becoming a major foreign exchange earner for the country; India, China & Singapore are examples.


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Implications of IT Education (contd.)

  • IT Education is expected to produce a well-educated, skilled and disciplined crop of professionals; it is also expected to produce a citizenry that is IT-literate and that has imbibed the culture of IT usage at all levels.

  • Ensures that Nigeria becomes part of the global education network, and attempts to bridge the digital divide.

  • Produces professionals capable of creating wealth through a knowledge-based economy.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

  • A landmark period in the history of IT Education was in the mid 1960s when IBM assisted in setting up Computer Centres at the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, Universities of Nigeria, Nsukka and the then University of Ife.

  • The Computer Centres were to become Support/Service units for the Departments of Computer Sciences that emerged later.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • The Computer Centres, Departments, in conjunction with IBM and ICL in particular became manpower development centres – producing Programmers, Systems Analysts, System Engineers, Computer Operators, Data Entry Operators among others.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Computer Literacy programmes were also organized for staff of government establishments and members of public.

  • Up to the early 1980s the hardware platform used for training was mainly proprietary mainframes and minicomputers.

  • The curriculum compared favorably with the best in the world.

  • Faculty staff trained abroad in the best institutions and were well motivated.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Research & Development flourished and was funded both from within and abroad. There were different Fellowship, Research & Staff development grants to choose from.

  • Learning environment was conducive and motivating to students & staff. Students were sure of employment after graduation.

  • Libraries had up to date stock of IT journals and books.

  • Many privately-owned vocational and literacy institutes sprang up and flourished.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • With the downturn in the nation’s economy in the mid 1980s and the return of the military to governance, IT Education witnessed a gradual decline.

  • Funding also declined steadily with attendant consequences.

  • Institutions still using the mainframes and minis could no longer maintain them. Institutions were also slow in deploying microcomputers which were just debuting in Nigeria then.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Students and Staff had minimal exposure to computer systems.

  • Overseas training for staff gradually dried up.

  • Low motivation for staff led to Brain Drain.

  • Low motivation for students brought CULTISM to the fore.

  • Curriculum stagnated.

  • Research & Development grants were diverted to other areas of need.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Libraries had largely outdated journals, and periodicals

  • Academics-Industry relationship declined.

  • Staff and Students Unionism became militant leading to disruptions in academic activities for long periods.

  • Vocational and Literacy centres mushroomed and they lacked adequate and up to date facilities and training personnel.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Distance Education of many institutions did not include IT Education because of the dearth of IT facilities and personnel.

  • Within this period (mid 1980s-1999), intervention programmes such as ETF and PTF were like a drop in the ocean.

  • Matters were made worse by instability – frequent changes of Ministers of Education, Science & Technology.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Lack of transparency and accountability in the institutions: Funds for IT infrastructure are usually diverted to other areas.

  • As at now, not less than 30 Nigerian universities are running IT-related programmes; about 25 Nigerian Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology are running similar programmes.

  • At the High school level, IT is not an examinable subject; most students pass through high school without any exposure to IT.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • The situation at the Elementary school level is worse than at the High School level.

  • The nation’s IT literacy level is said to be below 20%.

  • Since the new democratic dispensation, a few improvements have taken place.

  • In general, funding has improved, but is inadequate- 1.83% of national budget in 2003 as against min. of 26% by UNESCO.

  • Staff now earn more, but not enough to stop Brain Drain.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • Learning environment is being improved upon.

  • A few institutions now have limited internet access.

  • Privately-owned cybercafe now provide for citizens in some major cities

  • The Federal Govt. is working on a Distributed On-line library system to service higher institutions.


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STATE OF IT EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (contd.)

  • The National Open University is being developed. It is billed to take off in October 2003.

  • About Six privately-owned universities have taken off. They all run different IT-based programmes.

  • A number of vocational institutes now run Certification and Continuing education courses in Microsoft products, Oracle, CISCO etc.

  • Other problems enumerated earlier, remain largely un-addressed.


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CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

  • Policy

  • Structures

  • Resources

  • Political Environment


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Policy

The National IT policy needs to be reviewed and implemented especially as it affects the following:

  • Periodic review of Curricula of IT Education to bring them inline with modern trends.

  • Introducing IT Education at the various levels of our Educational system.

  • Vocational training institutes to strengthened by assisting in the areas of quality and standards.


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Policy (contd.)

  • IT literacy to be handled sectorally for effectiveness-Public servants, Press, Doctors, Lawyers etc.

  • National IT Institute (NITI) to be set up to train the trainers.

  • Every graduate to undergo one year training at NITI before qualifying to practise.

  • Fostering of Academics-Industry cooperation: Endowment, Foundation, Industrial Attachment, Sabbatical leave, Sponsorship of Learned Conferences.


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Policy (contd.)

  • Periodic accreditation of programmes and institutes by NUC, NBTE/NBCE, CPN.

  • At least 20% of IT Education fund should be reserved for Research & Development.

  • Statutes of higher institutions to provide for academic and technical staff to attend at least one local and one international conference annually, and to participate in a Research project once in three years.


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Policy (contd.)- Youth initiatives

  • Identify and encourage youth-led initiatives.

  • Institute and support annual competitions.

  • Sponsor Pan African and International conferences.

  • Support exchange programmes.


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Structures

The following structures are required for cheaper, readily accessible and all-pervasive IT Education.

  • E-learning

  • Distance Learning using multimedia facilities

  • Open University

  • Setting up of accredited training centres to handle practical and hands-on

    The development of these structures should involve all stakeholders right from the conceptualization stage.


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Resources

  • Infrastructure: Computer hardware, Software, Communication facilities, networking, Internet connectivity, Multimedia facilities, Teaching aids, are required.

  • Provision of computers to schools free or at affordable cost - the Teachers Without Borders’ initiative very laudable.

  • Provision of affordable and readily available Internet access – Setting up of Cybercafe in schools and neighbourhoods.


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Resources (contd.)

  • Manpower development: Scholarship schemes for higher degree training, Fellowship schemes, Staff Exchange programmes, Sponsorship to attend international conferences, sponsorship for Sabbatical leave.


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Funding

  • Broaden sources of funding to include Endowment, Foundation, National IT fund scheme.


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Political Environment

  • Democratic governance a panacea for development.

  • Political stability.

  • Transparency and Accountability are required at Policy making and implementation levels.


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CONCLUSION

  • A well coordinated national IT Education could become the driving force for Nigeria’s development in the 21st Century.

  • Current state of IT Education in Nigeria poses serious challenges to us all. The situation provides us the opportunity to contribute meaningfully in different ways to the development of IT in the Nigerian educational sector.

  • With proper Policy and Implementation strategies, Nigeria could yet take its proper position in the IT world.


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