How lack of ICT integration affects quality education in FCT schools

Although Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become a relevant part of human life, availability and access to ICT education is a challenge to many pupils and students in the FCT. In some government-owned schools, shortage or absence of devices, dilapidated computer labs and teachers with inadequate ICT training limit the quality of education acquired by students and pupils, IJEOMA OPARA reports.


Maryam Ibrahim had always hoped that her first son, Kareem, would pursue a career in technology when he grew up.

She had heard about young people doing innovative things in technology, which sparked her interest in having one of her children explore the sector.


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“One of my boss’ children lives in Europe. The last time he came to Nigeria, he told me he was into tech. I think that is what the world is focused on now, and I want my own son to be a part of it,” she said.

However, her dreams hang in the balance because her son’s school, LEA Nomadic Primary School, Wassa in the FCT, does not have a computer laboratory.

LEA Nomadic School, Wassa. Photo: The ICIR.
LEA Nomadic School, Wassa. Photo: The ICIR.

She told The ICIR that when she realised her son’s school did not properly teach him computer studies, she attempted to find a special class for computer studies but could not afford it.

“I asked one man around my place if he could teach him computer studies, but I could not afford his fees because I also have to pay for the school fees of my other children,” Ibrahim said.

Her son is one of the many pupils and students in the FCT that are denied quality access to computer studies.

Beyond the opportunities that ICT offer as a career path, computer studies have also been found to improve learning for children.

A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report stated that the learning process, especially for children, could be enhanced by technology, even in pre-schools, to improve learning skills.

“One of the critical areas where technology has highly improved understanding is critical thinking, as students are empowered to approach and exploit opportunities with courage and potential. Further, digitisation has enabled students to move into an era of digital learning, spearheaded by ICT’s adoption as an interconnected environment.

“ICT has helped institutions make more informed decisions that have led to the adoption of measures responsible for upholding the economy and environment’s integrity. Through this, a transformative, comprehensive, and higher quality education system is brought forward,” the report read in part. However, this is not the reality in government-owned primary schools within the FCT.

To ascertain the state of ICT education in the FCT, The ICIR visited some government-owned primary schools in the FCT, including the LEA Primary School, Karon-Majigi.

Like Kareem’s school, it was also observed that pupils had no access to computer education.

No practical computer studies in secondary schools

While ICT is rarely taught in government-owned primary schools, it is often not treated as a practical subject in junior secondary schools.

In some junior secondary schools visited by The ICIR, it was observed that students are only taught the theoretical part of computer studies with minimal practice.

The ICIR visited the Junior Secondary School, Life Camp, where it was observed that computer studies are mainly limited to theory.

One of the teachers at the Junior Secondary School, Life Camp, who refused to disclose their identity for lack of authorisation to speak, confirmed to The ICIR that Computer Science was being taught mostly as a theory than a practical subject.

“We have a lab. But if you want the child to be all that literate, maybe you will enrol them in extra classes. What we really do here is more of theory at their level. But when they go to the senior level, they start practical theory,” the teacher said.

When confronted with possible difficulties with understanding, the teacher said that was the training required at their level.

“All those private schools teaching practicals in junior secondary and primary levels are just stressing the children’s brains. There is a procedure to education, and there is what you give to a child at a particular age. If you read education very well, you will know what you are supposed to give to a child.

“We are not in the western world. We teach according to the scheme. That is the problem that private schools have. They know the practicals but they don’t know the theory. But if they learn the theory well, when they see the practical, they can perform it. For junior schools, it is alternative-to-practical,” the teacher said.

A student of the school who spoke to The ICIR said although she had basic computer skills, she mostly learnt from her brother.

“They teach us computer in school, but most of what I know, I learnt from my brother at home. He teaches me with his laptop. Our teachers teach us on the board, and we do a bit of practical. But my brother teaches me more with his laptop,” she said.

The National Policy on Education (NPE), as revised in 1988 and again in 2004, requires teaching computer science as a discipline and integrating the same into school administration and instruction.

The NPE further states that at every level of the educational system, modern education techniques shall be increasingly used and would be improved on. However, this is not the reality in some FCT schools.

According to a report by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) titled “2018 National Personnel Audit Report on Public and Private Basic Education Schools In Nigeria,” released in October 2019, only about 3,609 computers are available to pupils in 63,798 public primary schools.

A visit to the Junior Secondary School, Gwagwalada, showed that the situation was similar.

The ICIR was restricted from accessing the computer lab, but some staff members noted that the subject was being taught at the school.

Students also confirmed that there were occasional practical classes on the subject, but many admitted to having limited ICT skills.

Junior Secondary School, Gwagwalda.
Junior Secondary School, Gwagwalda.

Speaking to The ICIR, a director at the FCT Universal Basic Education Board (FCT-UBEB) Bashir Abubakar said concerted efforts were being made by the government and some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to train both teachers and students in ICT.

He noted that a lack of funds was making results relatively slow.

“Concerning computer education for students, we have collaborations with some NGOs. And training is ongoing on a termly basis and in different subjects too. In fact, at the beginning of this month, we, the management, were invited for a one-day training in Nassarawa by one of our collaborators that handle computer issues with the primary section.

“JSS Gwarinpa Estate, the last point I served, I was privileged to get a centre, Digital awareness centre, built by the NCC. They provided computers, generators, and everything in total for that school on ICT. This is besides what the FCT-UBEB does. We have a professional training department headed by a director. As I speak to you, quality education evaluators are attending training at JSS Jabi 2 right now.” he said.

The National Coordinator of Education Rights Campaign, an organisation focused on improved education advocacy,  Hassan Soweto, told The ICIR that ICT studies must be effectively integrated into education for Nigerian schools from the primary level.

“Primary school is the foundation of learning. If you look at other economies where ICT has become a major factor in their economic development, you will see that teaching ICT starts in primary and secondary schools.

“If Nigeria is to harness the potential of ICT with regards to the fast-changing nature of the economy, it must ensure that it funds ICT education right from the primary and secondary schools,” he said.

Soweto added that a lack of funding and commitment contributed significantly to the poor state of ICT education in Nigeria.

He also said education in Nigeria did not match the changing realities of the country’s economy.






     

     

    “This only goes to show that the Nigerian education system is not in any way linked to Nigeria’s economic goals. The syllabi of Nigerian schools are completely outdated.

    “The crisis of education underfunding is responsible for the problem that we are facing now. Without developing the capacity of the teachers, establishing the infrastructure like the computer labs, you are not going to be able to achieve the reforms. So, funding is an extra factor at the level of primary, secondary and tertiary education,” he noted.

    Until education is properly funded, ICT practically taught, and infrastructure adequately provided, children like Kareem may not be able to achieve their dreams.

    *This report is a part of Youth Hub Africa’s Basic Education Media Fellowship 2022 with support from the Malala Fund and Rise Up.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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