James Korave Uno
Department of Foundations and Management,
College of Education, Katsina-Ala
The inclusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Curriculum in the National Policy on Education is a welcome development that needs to be commended, supported and seen to be implemented by all stakeholders. Regrettably, implementation of the policy in both public and private primary schools seems to be facing daunting challenges. A visit to many Nigerian public and private schools shows that computer education is not effectively taught. The article discusses the need to give ICT serious attention and the complementary role of government and the private sector in the promotion of computer education and suggests how the observed obstacles could be surmounted.
Primary education is one of the most important parts of one’s lifelong education. The system anchors the foundation of a person’s foray into knowledge that determines his destiny during adulthood. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2004) explains that it is the education given to children aged 6 to 11 years plus. And it is on it that one’s educational attainment can be successfully built.
Considering the importance attached to this level of education, lofty goals have been scripted to lay a solid foundation for its recipients, which pursuant to its achievement includes the teaching of computer education. The primary education of the 21st century should be technologically driven for greater impact on the nation’s technological advancement. This calls for early introduction of computer education in the primary schools as conceived and included in the National Policy on Education.
While some proprietors of private primary schools have introduced computer education in their schools, and it is making impact on the children, most children who attend public primary schools are yet to experience the study of computer education after 10 years of its inclusion in the National Policy on Education.
It is expected that government should lead in providing for Information and Communication Technology facilities in primary schools and encourage Head teachers and teachers of both public and private schools to live up to expectation in imparting computer knowledge and skills to achieve the objective of the National Policy on Education that says “government shall provide facilities and necessary infrastructure for promotion of ICT at all levels of education” (p.48).
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Computer Education
Information and Communication Technology comprises all electronic and communication gadgets that have been invented in recent times that have helped to ease all forms of communication. Rouse (2005) defines Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as “an umbrella term that includes any communication devices or application encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on as well as the various services and applications associated with them such as video conferencing and distance learning” (p.1).
Information and Communication Technology ICT has become a global phenomenon and all countries of the world have adopted the technology which has made the world a global village. Distance in communication is no longer a barrier. Many countries of the world including Nigeria have established organizations for the promotion of ICT because of the fear of being left out of the technology. In Nigeria, a Minister of Communication has been appointed to handle the development of this important technological innovation. Equally, on the broader level, Rouse (2005) says the United Nations has established a unit called Information and Communication Technology Development (ICTD) for the promotion of ICT education.
The efforts made at different levels to develop ICT are commendable. However our nation Nigeria, needs to be more proactive in laying (ICT) computer education foundation in the primary school for greater impact on all aspects of life and the nation at large.
Advantages of (ICT) Computer Education
Though ICT is needful in the primary school, the computer technology aspect may be considered more important because cell phones, radios, television sets may be a distraction to the pupils, except if strictly controlled. The advantages of ICT cannot be overemphasized. It is a global trend that should be adopted in our education system to meet the challenges of the time.
According to Edinson, (2011; Patsalides, 2011; Solomon & Rusev, 2008), the following are advantages of introducing computer education in the primary school:
- It enables pupils to create things of interest to them.
- It helps encourage teamwork and pupils talk together and establish common grounds.
- The computer allows pupils to have access to more comprehensive sources of information. Skills are also learnt relating to information retrieval.
- It helps to develop the cognitive skills as teachers give pupils activities to do on the computer.
- Students gain word processing skills when learning to type; skills they will need in college and work place.
- Computer time promotes higher order of thinking skills and is a natural form of discovery through trial and error
- Computer time increases responsibility, independence and sense of accomplishment.
- Students that understand computer science are less likely to be mystified by the inner workings of a computer system. This in turn can make them more comfortable with computers and give them a better sense of what they can do and cannot do.
Educational Policy on Information and Communication Technology (Computer Education)
Education is a potent change agent which has influenced the national psyche since its introduction in the 18th century by the European missionaries. Fafunwa (2004) states that the education ordinance of 1882 gave recognition to primary education. The effort to change the course of education led to the 1969 curriculum conference that fashioned the National Policy on Education and has been continuously revised to include computer education.
Anonymous (2014) defines computer education as:
the process of acquiring the basic computer knowledge, ideas, skills and other competences so as to understand the basic terminologies, weaknesses of computer, potentials of computer and how computers can be used to solve everyday problems, (p.1).
The relevance of computers in solving day to day problems cannot be overemphasized. Nearly every technology in use today such as household appliances, high technological and electrical devices and toys are computerized. Computer knowledge has become a necessity and not a luxury as it used to be. Therefore, the introduction of computer education in the nation’s educational system is a right step in the right direction and should be supported by all and sundry.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) states in section 4 (19b) (ix) that the “curriculum for primary education shall include computer education” (p. 10). Explaining further, FRN (2004) section 4 (19) (m) says:
In recognition of the prominent role of Information and Communication Technology in advancing knowledge and skills necessary for effective functioning in the modern world, there is urgent need to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into education in Nigeria. Government shall therefore provide basic infrastructure and training for the realization of this goal at the school level (p.12).
FRN (2004) further reaffirms in section 5 (30) (f) that “Government shall provide necessary infrastructure and training for the integration of ICT in the school system in recognition of the role of ICT in advancing knowledge and skills in the modern world” (p.18).
Many years after the formulation of the policy, for the advancement of computer education the dividends of the policy are yet to be enjoyed by some of our school children in schools where ICT education has not been implemented. A visit to many of our primary schools shows that some schools are yet to see the implementation of the policy. The necessary infrastructure for the take off of ICT education has not been provided for the installation of the computer components, let alone its implementation.
Lofty policies on computer education should be executed irrespective of the cost of implementation. A country that does not take the implementation of its educational policies seriously cannot create impact on the world stage.
The Challenges of Implementing ICT Computer Education in Primary Schools
Primary schools in Nigeria are faced with teething problems namely, poor infrastructure, inadequate resources and manpower, etc. These have hampered educational growth considerably. Lawani (2006) emphasizes that “one important aspect of school that cannot be compromised is resource input in terms of teachers, infrastructure, textbooks and instructional materials” (p. 72).
Many primary schools, especially in the rural areas face the problem of poor infrastructure, inadequate teachers and lack of instructional materials. The infrastructure needed for ICT implementation include classrooms, tables, chairs, burglary proofs for security, electricity, generators and solar power system. Presently, the infrastructure required for ICT Computer Education implementation is grossly inadequate. Some schools cannot boast of a concrete structure for class activities, let alone for accommodating computers. Lawani (2006) further submits that in many schools, teaching is conducted under the tree, in dilapidated structures, roofless buildings with broken windows and un-plastered floors, (p.72). Domike and Odey (2013) lamenting on curriculum implementation problems in Cross River State says “many schools are experiencing acute shortage of infrastructure, non-payment of teachers’ salaries and security problems. Some primary schools have not enough classrooms and furniture to the extent that classes are held under trees”, (P.5).
Again funding seems the greatest challenge facing implementation of the primary school curriculum in Nigeria. Domike and Odey (2012) expressing concern on this issue affirm that “poor funding could also be seen as another factor that has bedeviled implementation of the primary school curriculum in Cross River State” (p.6). Related to poor funding is the issue of corruption and embezzlement of allocated fund for primary education. Labo-poopola, Bello and Atanda (2009) insist that “even where the allocated fund is not enough, the available is usually embezzled by corrupt Nigeria officials working in SUBEB offices across the country” (p5).
A similar situation is obtainable in Edo State. Benin (2011) re-echoing a paper presented by an Edo State Government Official Mr. Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo states that:
Paradoxically, in spite of her enormous natural resources, Nigeria education system is bedeviled with the challenges of under funding, infrastructure, inadequate class rooms and teaching aids (projectors, computers, libraries, laboratories and paucity of quality teachers) poor or polluted learning environment (p.2).
According to Tor-Anyiin (2008), in 1990, the National Monitoring and Evaluation Report on Primary Education in Nigeria reported that in 453 Local Government Areas, 1674 schools had no buildings… In 2000 a weekly UBE Bulletin x-rayed the environmental situation of primary school thus:
- 12% of pupils sit on the floor
- 87% of classrooms are overcrowded
- 38% of classrooms have no ceiling
- 77% pupils lack textbooks
- 36% pupils have no writing materials
- 47% lack furniture
- 3% of schools have no chalk.
The figures and statistics presented represent a clear testimony of lack of government readiness to implement computer education. Furthermore, teachers have not been adequately trained in preparation for the take off computer education in primary schools. Between 2006 and 2011 the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Millennium Development Goals Project (MDG) and the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) embarked on the retraining of teachers in all subjects taught in the primary school, including Computer Education. However the training does not translate into the provision of facilities and equipment considering the existing inadequacies observed in the schools.
In the same vein, Adomi and Akpangban (2010) highlight the following challenges as inhibiting the application of ICT Education in secondary schools in Nigeria:
1.Lack of adequate ICT facilities in schools.
- Frequent electricity interruption.
3.Poor ICT policy/project implementation strategy.
4.Inadequate ICT manpower in schools and
- High cost of facilities (P.5).
Majorly the challenges militating against the implementation of Computer Education in primary schools are enormous. Notwithstanding, they can be surmounted if concerted efforts are made by government and stakeholders to holistically address them.
Prospects of ICT Implementation
To mitigate the challenges, government is expected to be in the forefront by making adequate budgetary provision for infrastructure, mobilizing and sensitizing the private sector, philanthropists, Parent Teachers Association and voluntary organizations, to work in tandem for much of the problems to be ameliorated. This can be done as government agencies like Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and Education Trust Fund (ETF) make commitment with stakeholders, including donor agencies to choose areas of intervention in schools. For instance, while government provides classrooms and electricity, the organized private sector, philanthropists and voluntary agencies may choose to provide computers and accessories. The Parent Teachers Association may opt to purchase tables, chairs and generators. Head teachers who are custodians of the facilities and equipment should be responsible not only for the maintenance of computers but other facilities.
Teachers should be trained and retrained in computer literacy. The training should not be aimed at making the teachers experts but adequately equipping them to introduce the course in primary schools. Hopkins (2014) informs, while speaking from experience, that “I often train the students and after the lessons many students just pick it up naturally and solve problem on their own…..the students will help each other and teachers will learn from them”. And for the training to be more beneficial to the pupils and the school, teachers should be trained in computer maintenance, to avoid frequent request for a computer technician, in the event of breakdown.
Donor agencies like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank and others should be approached for financial aid for implementation of Computer Education considering its importance and the enormous resources needed. OkebukoIa (2009) while delivering a lecture titled, “The Effect of ICT on Achieving Functional Education in Secondary Schools in Nigeria” at the 14th graduation ceremony of Babcock University High school Ilishan Ogun State said:
Computer equipment and peripherals are generally capital intensive, therefore, philanthropists, organized private sector and even informal sector must be enlightened in the need for Computer Education so that they can contribute generously to finance the procurement and installation of systems in public primary and secondary schools. And every Local Government Area should build a computer centre where systems, peripherals and software are installed for use of pupils and teachers (p.3).
The facilities and funds provided will be of immense contribution to the development of Computer Education for technological growth. Not only that children will not be mystified about the computer and its operations including easy access to online programmes like e-banking, e-learning and examinations etc.
ICT/ Computer Education has faced the problem of implementation in the primary school in Nigeria considering the lack of basic infrastructure, resources and manpower. Nevertheless, it will be more valuable for the younger generation to grow with knowledge and skills in computer technology, in a world that has become a global village. Consequently, these recommendations are made to make the implementation of ICT/ Computer Education more sustainable.
- Government at all levels should increase funding of primary education and as well close loopholes that encourage corruption and embezzlement.
- Government should sensitize stakeholders, the organized private sector, philanthropists and voluntary agencies to partner in providing the infrastructure for Computer Education.
- Considering the schools environment, computers and accessories must be of high quality and durable to last long for it to make impact on pupils. Government should not stand down on quality but insist on the best for performance.
- Teachers retraining programmes should be vigorously pursued to make the teachers computer literate enough to impart knowledge and skills to the pupils.
Computer education should commence without further delay is our primary school system and be made a compulsory subject in this age that every electronic and mechanical device is computerized for optimum efficiency and accuracy. The study of computer education will make the pupils computer literate and in the long run will benefit the entire nation. Computer education needs to be taught in the primary schools for the pupils to understand that technology is a natural part of the learning process. For this purpose, it is incumbent on government to sensitize communities, non-governmental organizations, corporate bodies, voluntary organizations, philanthropists, faith based organizations etc. to collaborate in the task of contributing towards the implementation of computer education in primary schools.
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