Need for computer literacy among Nigerian children, By Nonye Uba

Posted by News Express | 5 June 2018 | 4,370 times

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•Computer laboratory

The computer has become one of the most powerful devices in the world, as far as skills and personal development go, in better preparation of the workforce.

The world is fast advancing with technology and Third World countries need to catch up, lest they are left behind. What better way to start if not with the young ones whose brains and minds are much more imaginative, vibrant and open to learn. Computers are everywhere: at home, schools and, most especially, at work. The number of schools with computers (globally) have grown exponentially over the years, thus computers have become part and parcel of the life of students in schools, just as pencil, pen and paper.

There is no limitation to the advancement of technology. The upcoming generation of learners definitely requires a high level of fluency where computers are concerned. The importance of computer education cannot be over-emphasised. Students gain knowledge of by using Word Processor for work, and also improve grammatical skills, spellings and vocabulary, as wrong words or phrases are automatically corrected (in American English) or highlighted. Children who learn computer use in schools have been seen to show more improvement in terms of their education when compared to those who don’t. Why? Such students tend to be more practical than theoretical, working with realities that can help give birth to new ideas. Students exposed to computer education think more deeply about subject areas and have the ability to deal with complex content at tender ages. So, for educational growth and development, it is of utmost importance to teach students in schools about computers, how to use them, understanding them and the benefits of using various applications like the Microsoft Office tools.

Computer education involves the ability to effectively use computers and related technology beginning from its basic use, programming and then advanced problem solving skills. Teaching students about computers and their usage goes a long way to improve their individual quality and possible career developmental options. Over 85 per cent of jobs in the country today require sound/basic computer skills and knowledge for employment eligibility.

Regardless, the need for computer education in schools and the fact that it’s been included in schools’ curriculum, it is unfortunate that besides unity schools (which restrict teaching of computer education to Junior Secondary School levels) and the lot of private schools, most state schools which make up more than 80% of schools in Nigeria either lack adequate basic equipment and infrastructure needed to teach, and hence offer just the theoretical aspect of it, leaving practice to chance. Even worse, some schools have taken it out of their curriculum entirely due to the single reason that they lack computers and computer-literate teachers for the subject. Besides the lack of computer-literate teachers, the few who have acquired the knowledge to teach computer science do not have encouraging remunerations and incentives. As a result, this impedes the development of computer education. The utilisation of computers in education is still uncommon in Nigerian schools. This has led to the production of computer-illiterate primary/secondary school leavers, who will most likely not thrive in higher levels of education or work environment tightly based on technological advancements. It then follows that the so-called computer-literate society, which was predicted a long time ago, is still very much an illusion in Nigeria.

Recently, I came across a certain not-for profit organisation that paid a visit to a Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School, a government-owned school. It will interest you to know that primary six students just about to graduate and move to secondary school barely had an idea what a computer was. Almost none of them had seen or touched one. What this organisation did was commendable: they breached the gap a bit by organising an emergency computer education programme where the children were introduced to basics of computer learning. They conveyed 20 students of University of Abuja down to the school who then dedicated two hours of their time to teach basic computer lessons, including demonstrating how to turn on and switch off a computer, helping them know the different parts of a computer system, and much more. By doing this alone, they helped the children familiarise themselves with computer systems. If you ask me, that’s quite a lot considering their total lack of computer knowledge before the encounter.

From that single event, it’s obvious how important it is for the Nigerian government, and society at large, to take bold steps to ensure that every primary school pupil is provided with basic tools needed to understand the evolving technology of our world today. Necessary equipment and infrastructure should be put in place, in schools, to facilitate acquisition of computer skill among both teachers and students. More qualified computer teachers should be employed and better incentives be availed, to help them impact their knowledge on the younglings. Official training should be organised in order to empower or bring more teachers to the computer age.

 The educational system need not lack computer-literate teachers at whatever level of education. As such, the government has a civic duty to ensure that teachers are trained and assessed effectively to meet necessary criteria.

Nonye Uba can be reached via nonyevikky@yahoo.com


Source: News Express

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