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Computer Education in Nigerian Secondary Schools: Gaps Between Policy and Practice

Philip Olu Jegede and Josiah Abiodun Owolabi

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Conclusion and Recommendations

There is a wide disparity between policy pronouncements and policy implementations in Nigeria (Jeter, 2002). The Minister for Science and Technology, Professor T. Isoun , was mindful of this when he posited that the formulation of an information technology (IT) policy constituted only about 20% of the IT solution for the country, but the remaining 80% lies with implementation (2001). Therefore, a body was inaugurated to carry out the much larger task of implementation. The Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria needs to follow suit and form a body that will regulate, monitor, evaluate and verify progress on an on-going basis. The Ministry should be mindful of the reality that educational policies of the past have failed due to poor implementation.

The enthusiasm with which the minister's address was received did not produce the necessary actions (Odogwu, 2000). It seems as if the policy has disappeared with its formulators. Maduekwe (2003) offered a solution to this by calling for the emergence of a 'policy elite' that would act as an informed lobby group to the government, stressing the need for policy implementation. He stated that the emergence of such a policy leadership group would ensure that the policies of previous administrations would not be abandoned. This agrees with Braun, Cicioni and Ducste (2000) suggestions regarding policy implementation in developing countries. Considering Argentina's situation, Braun et al.(2000) called for the emergence of policy 'think tanks' whose function is to conduct policy analysis and offer creative, insightful and even counter-intuitive solutions for complex problems. Think tanks can act both in partnership and as a counter balance to governmental agencies. In many cases they complement and build on the work of public organizations, act as watchdogs, and are alternative sources of policy initiatives. Dunn (1996) in the case of Central and Eastern Europe think tanks, unencumbered by political obligations and driven by core values and principles, act as independent forums for debate and as sources of innovative ideas and recommendations. Policy continuity would thus be ensured if policy elites or think tanks emerge in Nigeria (Freedom House, 1999).

To bridge the gap, both policy and practice need to be implemented. The current policy pronouncements are obsolete and need be updated within the dynamic world of computers. For example, hardware configurations of 16-bit microprocessor, 640 KB memory capacity and 80 - column printer stated in the policy are outdated. The updated policy must be popular and deliverable to all computer teachers in schools so that the teachers will be able to implement the philosophy and objectives of the computer instruction.

Regular in-service training for teachers must be in place that includes basic computer operations, programming and teaching methodologies. The training should be made open to private schools as well to ensure uniform standards. In addition, most teachers need retraining in integrating IT techniques into instructional methods. Chen (1995) outlined what this training should include:

  • Basic computing skills
  • Up-to-date theories of learning and instruction
  • Wide ranging applications of IT in education
  • IT trends in education and common mistakes of computer use in education
  • Software evaluation methods and classroom technology integration

This goes beyond the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Education. State Ministries of Education within the country should offer training for school teachers and ally with various institutes of education in universities whose primary assignments are the professional development of teachers. This would involve adequate budgetary allocations for such programs.

Furthermore, deliberate effort should be made by the government to fund new hardware to at least meet the stipulated 8-1 student to computer ratios. Making hardware available is a governmental priority. Mozambique's IT priority has established 'Information Technology Access Mobile Units' in the form of buses carrying computers for use by interested people in those areas where infrastructure is not yet available. A similar arrangement can be put in place for schools. A single school computer laboratory can be fully equipped so that other schools within the same area can use it on a rotating basis. For private schools, compliance with the policy hardware provisions should form the basis of school accreditation.

The shortage of teachers is a national problem but designated colleges of education and universities should be assisted in the formulation of successful computer education programs so that within a few years qualified computer teachers will be available to schools. It is difficult and expensive to service and repair computers using computer firms because schools are dispersed all over the nation and computing firms are located only in the cities. It may be necessary to employ computer technicians in state offices of the Federal Ministry of Education so that schools can share as the need arises. Private schools will only have the option of resorting to computer firms.

Above all, adding computer studies examinations in Junior School Certificate Examinations as well as Senior School Certificate Examinations will catalyze serious commitment. Cameroon, for example, has introduced computer education as an examinable subject at the General Certificate of Education Level (Onabanjo, 1997) which has increased computer awareness. Putting these types of practices in place will reduce; if not entirely close the gap between policy stipulations and school practice.

About the Authors

Philip Olu Jegede is currently a lecturer at the Institute of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He received both his B.Sc (Hons). and M.Sc degrees in Mathematics from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His M.Ed is in Educational Tests and Measurements from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He has taught Pure Mathematics, Programming, and Computer Study courses at different undergraduate levels. Before his present appointment, he taught in secondary schools, a college of education and a polytechnic school in Nigeria. His research interests are computer education and information technology behaviors.

Josiah Owolabi, currently lectures at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Lagos, Nigeria. He holds both a B.Sc (Ed) and M.Sc in Mathematics from the University of Lagos as well as a M.Sc in Computer Science. His work experience includes teaching mathematics in secondary schools. Josiah had co-written two books in Mathematics and Computer Studies for secondary students.

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
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Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2005
ISSN 1097 9778
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