Wednesday, March 05, 2008

NCC to empower 581 schools

Telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will by end of this year empower 581 schools and colleges with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment nationwide, in living up to its vision.

This number consists of 221 to be achieved under the NCC’s Digital Awareness Programme (DAP) and the other 360 to be made up from the NCC secretariat under the auspices of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) at NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe made this disclosure at the commissioning of two out of the 141 beneficiaries so far under DAP.

This brings to four DAP projects in Enugu State.

He also said that the first phase of DAP launched in 2004 began with 12 institutions spread across the six geopolitical zones, while the two latest commissioning absorb the Boys High School Amechi-Awkunanaw formerly known as ‘Union Boys’ and a private college, Kings and Queens Comprehensive School Agbani-Road, both in Enugu.

“It’s planned that in 2008 about 80 schools will benefit from the programme,” he said, adding that each of these schools and colleges would be equipped with at least 20 Personal Computers (PCs), furniture and internet facilities, even as in some locations with structural renovation of buildings and supply of air conditioners and power generating sets.

In addition, the programme provides basic training for the teachers and students to enable them effectively use the facilities provided.

Literacy, Ndukwe said, is usually defined simply as the ability to read and write, noting that nowadays the word literacy is often used to substitute for ability or competence.

“The ability such as computer literacy and information literacy are today necessary skills to have in the emerging information age,” he said, emphasizing that the ability to read and write is a prerequisite for acquiring many of these abilities.

He cited a recent report of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) tagged ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’ which indicated that although learning to read and write requires significant guidance and a degree of formalized education, learning to use a computer and other modern technologies could be an intuitive process.

According to him, computers set up in public spaces in slum neighbourhoods of India showed that curious children in these areas became proficient in browsing the Internet and using certain computer programmes within days, without any formal teaching.

This, he said, demonstrates that for children at least, it is possible to gain basic computer skills without formalized assistance, adding that early introduction of computers to children among other ICT tolls could easily become part of the everyday tool of the young people who will grow to become active and productive members of the emerging knowledge societies.

“This has been the motivation for initiating DAP,” he asserted.

Dr. Ndukwe further commended the enthusiasm demonstrated by the Enugu State and the cooperation NCC has enjoyed lately especially in implementation of its DAP projects.

“I enjoin the state government to do whatever is necessary to ensure sustainability of this project in all DAP locations in the state,” he said, and praised the school authorities for providing the facilities for the project, even as he tasked both staff and students to optimize it.

“The Internet is world’s biggest knowledge source today. The possibilities that become available to those that have access to the World Wide Web (www) are limitless. Let us employ it to the fullest,” Ndukwe said, just as he warned the school over being too commercial oriented, maintaining that priority should be given to students first before extending the service for commercial purpose.

In his remark, Enugu State governor, Chief Sullivan Chime represented by his deputy, Chief Sunday Onyebuchi, applauded NCC, pointing out the need for inter-governmental agencies to cooperate and support each other as well as invite the organized private sector to buy into the vision of DAP by being behind government to improve the educational system.

Excited Education Commissioner, Mrs. Ndidi Chukwu was full of praises for NCC, saying that living has become electronic and appreciated Dr. Ndukwe led team at the commission for remembering the school he left several years ago.

She pleaded with the students to shun exam malpractices by tapping into DAP.

Describing the commissioning as a provision of a fertile ground for his students, senior Principal of Boys High School, Mr. C.U. Aneke, noted that apart from availing the community with basic computer knowledge, it would facilitate their chances of securing employment opportunities while considering other prospects of life ambitions at the grassroots.

For his counterpart at Kings and Queens College, Mr. Precious Okorn equally commended NCC for the gesture for choosing the school as part of DAP, saying that the commission has made them to join the ICT community through availing his students and staff the opportunity to browse educational materials online.

“Its now mandatory for students to do practical,” he said.

Chairman, Old Boys Association of the Union, Mr. Ken Anyaegbuna, also thumbed-up NCC for identifying with the school and called on other government and non-governmental organizations to emulate the commission by supporting the education sector.

Gov. Chime later commissioned the two ICT centres.

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