“There is a digital divide between nations-between the developed and developing nations and between the developing and underdeveloped nations of the world, and within a nation there is a divide between the urban and rural areas. This divide exists between the urban or city dwellers, and dwellers of rural communities, and there also exists a divide between the corporate world and the academia hence over 90 percent of fresh graduates find it difficult to blend with the digital demands of the corporate class when they graduate.
As part of its deliberate digital inclusion policy to address digital divides across a broad spectrum of the society generally and the school system in particular, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently took digital dividends to some institutions of higher learning in the country.
The commission through the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) has been able to empower several of these higher institutions with the donation of digital centres, computer laboratories fitted with laptops and internet connectivity and generating sets. Secondary schools benefited through the Digital Awareness Programme (DAP). DAP ensures that teachers are empowered first to pass knowledge to the students. DAP promotes hands-on digital empowerment by creating an environment where students have direct knowledge of usage of computers and ICTs in support of their studies.
Some of the schools that benefitted from the digital dividends include the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti; The Polytechnic, Ibadan; Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo; Federal Polytechnic Nekede; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Benin; Government Junior Secondary School, Jabi, Abuja; Katsina State College, Katsina and Government Secondary School Dan Musa, Katsina State.
Making these donations to the benefiting schools, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr Eugene Juwah, explained that the commission identified the gap in ICT services early enough and opted to cushion these needs by taking services, equipment and infrastructure to these centres of learning.
At the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Juwah represented by the director of policy competition and economic analysis department, Ms Josephine Amuwa, said the commission was out to put smiles on the faces of students and the school system.
He said one of the core functions of the NCC was the implementation of programmes and plans that promote the development of the communications industry, adding in order to achieve this, the NCC had implemented several capacity building initiatives to enhance the knowledge base of the participants in the telecoms industry in the countrya. Some of these initiatives include the establishment of the Digital Bridge Institute in 2004 in order to contribute to the creation of knowledge-based information society in Africa, through human resource capacity building in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
He said the commission in 2005 also established the NCC library for use of researchers and undergraduate students of various tertiary institutions across the country, adding the commission started the ADAPTI programme in Ekiti State University, which falls within the South West region, because it had not benefitted from the national books donation initiative of the commission since its inception.
Flagging off the ADAPTI project in The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, where 110 laptops were commissioned, Juwah represented by the NCC zonal coordinator in Ibadan, Mr. Banji Ojo, said the commission was striving to bridge the digital divide in the academia through the provision of computers to equip the lecturers and also to improve the skills of the students. He said the institution was among the 52 beneficiaries of the project, adding more than 222 institutions of higher learning across the country had so far benefitted from ADAPTI since it began in 2008.
He said: ´The key objectives of these programmes is to prepare the nation for a digital tomorrow and equip the youth with the necessary skills to tap into the potentials of the digital age and in the case of ADAPTI, it is aimed at improving the resource persons in the process of impacting knowledge, and we, at the commission, are committed to assisting the nation in the quest for ICT penetration through ADAPTI.´
A statement by NCC’s director of public affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, said the programmes were designed to address the digital information knowledge gap in the country especially among the teeming youthful population.
The statement read in part: ´The strategy in this programme is to expose schools and colleges to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) awareness, usage and application by facilitating access to ICT tools.
Under the project, selected institutions of learning spread across the country are equipped with computer laboratories fully installed with internet facilities and their teachers exposed to ICT training in order to equip them to teach their students.
´By the last count, the DAP Project has supported 229 secondary schools across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory with the provision of twenty one (21) desktop computers, Local Area Network, printers, scanners, VSAT dish and deployment of one year bandwidth subscription for Internet access. These facilities are complemented with standby generators and a special accommodation built for that purpose, thus aggregating everything into a fully kitted computer laboratory. The programme also entails human capacity building and managerial training for key personnel in charge of the centres from the beneficiary institutions.´“
(Source: Leadirship Newspaper