To make Nigeria's quest for a place among the 20 economies of the world by 2020 feasible, access to information and communication technologies at all level of the education sector should be accorded priority, the minister of education, Sam Egwu has said.
Mr. Egwu, who spoke while inaugurating the committees to drive e-learning initiative in Nigeria, said in Abuja at the weekend the that e-learning is a logical and strategic approach to effect the much needed technological transformation in Nigeria.
"As a nation and key player in world affairs, Nigeria cannot afford to be left, trailing behind other nations in the global ladder of ICT. We must, therefore, mobilise our resources in partnership with the private sector, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Education for All goals and the seven point agenda of the present administration," he said.
Mr. Egwu urged the committee to come up, without delay, with actionable plans and recommendations that will ensure the immediate diffusion of e-learning into our education system.
The programme is expected to start by the end of first quarter of 2010.
E-learning is expected to redefine education; for example, the classroom will no longer be demarcated by brick walls rather "students can communicate with their teachers from their bedrooms or wherever they are, especially during strikes, while housewives can receive lectures from their kitchen without having face to face interaction with their instructors." Will this new initiative void the recent directive that students should make up to 75 per cent lecture attendance before they are awarded a pass mark in any subject? Mr. Egwu said e-learning does not in any way contradict that policy.
"I mean, the 75 per cent attendance is still there.
This e-learning helps the student to save the time they spend in going to the library, the time they spend in trying to make contact with their teachers and even to access journals. They stay in the comfort of their hostels, rooms or apartments and access journals, their teachers and even facilities outside their university or that institutional environment," he said.
The minister also said the committee will do basic work on infrastructure. He noted that communications equipment manufacturers must be involved. He also said that the deployment of e-learning will be carried out through public private partnership.
"This explains why Omatek, Zinox and Calfa were included as members of the committee," he said. "They will judiciously use their resources, creativity and passion for the actualisation of this laudable initiative.
We are going to have manufacturers come in to produce the laptops to be used by students." The Chief Executive Officer of Zinox Technologies, Leo Stan Eke said that the project came about in order for the government to create a solid foundation for e-learning in the country.
"If there is no solid e-learning foundation, this country cannot move forward in human capital development and that is the challenge," he said. "That also explains why we have half baked graduates." Omatek Computers Chairman, Florence Seriki, added that it is about time Nigeria joins the e-learning team.
"There is a lot of gap between e-learning in Nigeria and all over the world," she said. "It is also a way of allowing the youth themselves to produce the same computers. It brings capacity building... It will also create interconnectivity among students."