Education Standards In The Rural Areas Of Adamawa Education Essay

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This document is aimed at using information technology to develop a rural secondary school for the improvement of the quality of education in the school in question. The school is located in a rural area in Adamawa state called Numan. Numan is a typical picture of rural areas in Nigeria and the education system in this area is poor. According to an extract from a report in which they defined rural education:

When you talk about education in rural areas, you talk about a poor standard of learning, lack of proper educational infrastructure, lack of learning equipment and other basic factors that should be in place for a healthy learning environment. Education in rural areas doesn't go far and hence the lack of improvement in these areas.

This project is aimed at introducing IT to the school in order to achieve a leveled playing field compared with other schools in urban areas. If students are not provided with basic tools to match up with those within urban environments, there is inequality. "Unequal tools in an unequal environment create unequal results" (Ukpe, 2010).

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The school in question is named Fakas Secondary school. It currently has just one computer which is located in the principal's office which was donated by ETF (Educational Trust Fund). Our aim is to facilitate the establishment of a computer lab with 20 work stations connected to the internet. This computer lab will be used to train students from JSS One all through to SSS Three. The presence of this computer lab will make learning a lot easier for the students and provide access to technology and information which would widen their learning base, improve learning skills and provide an equal playing field with other advanced schools.

A researcher on education in Nigeria said that, "The Federal Republic of Nigeria has no specific policy for ICT in education" (Agyeman, 2007, p.2). Based on this, we plan on convincing the Adamawa State Ministry of Education and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and SchoolNet (A non-profit organisation) to fund this test run project. This school will be used as a case study to evaluate the impact of introducing information technology in rural schools or any substandard school on the quality of education the students receive. This project is an attempt to bridge the gap between education in rural and urban schools.

This project is going to be the first of its kind to be implemented in Adamawa state and even Nigeria. Putting the pieces into place would be a daunting task considering the fact that we would be working with the Nigerian Government and other organizations. The project success would depend solely on the level of corporation of the sponsors. In order to make sure the project is a success, we have come up with certain methods to maintain progress.

Methodology

In order to convince the project sponsors to invest in our plan, we would provide several reasons and evidence showing the impact of ICT in education. We would first compare Fakas Secondary School with ABTI Academy. ABTI Academy which is situated in Yola town is one of the best if not the best secondary school in Adamawa state. The school has a fully functional computer lab which is connected the internet. The lab has 25 computer workstations connected to a LAN network. The students have full access to the lab to do research, take courses in computer education, type documents and gather information on relevant topics for their coursework. These facilities improve their learning skills and motivate them to work. According to their principal, the school usually has the highest rating when it comes to the O-level exams in the North-East region of Nigeria. This isn't totally due to the fact that they have computers in the school but it is based on the fact that these students have found new ways of learning and integrated it with the conventional way of learning (books). Looking at Fakas Secondary school which is located in Numan, we see that the school is barely surviving on the little amenities it has. The school has a little library which was built by the ETF, classrooms, chairs, and a playground for extra-curricular activities. The school has just one computer which is not connected to the internet. The computer isn't actually being used because there is hardly power supply to that area. In order to improve this school by introducing ICT to it, we have come up with certain items that we feel would improve the school immensely:

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A fully functional computer lab with 20 workstations and connection to the internet

Provision of hardware resources for internet connectivity (WLAN, LAN, VSAT, etc)

Experts to train the existing teachers how to use the systems and maintain them. These experts would remain there for a while till the local teachers can maintain the system.

Power supply to the region in question

Software resources for learning (Mavis Beacon, etc)

At first this looks like a lot to implement but at the end of the day, the final result shows that it is worth it. In Adamawa state, the power supply can be considered as erratic especially in the urban areas. Logic dictates that if the urban areas hardly get any power supply, the rural areas would be worse off. A report on education in Nigeria states:

Rural communities are worse off because of the absence of infrastructure. In pursuit of the vision

to improve access to electric power, most especially by rural dwellers, the government signed

into law the Nigerian Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) which established the

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Rural Electrification Agency

(REA). The REA is responsible for implementing the rural electrification fund, regulating rural

electrification functions not covered by the NERC, and promoting rural electrification. (Agyeman, 2007)

The Adamawa state government should appeal to the REA to improve the power supply to this region for the sake of this project. This is vital to the project because without power supply, the computers are as good as useless in the schools.

The Adamawa state government, NITDA, SchoolNet and ETF would come together in supplying the necessary infrastructure for this project to succeed; infrastructure meaning: the routers, satellite connection, computers, software packages for installation, etc.

Maintaining these systems requires a lot of work and a basic knowledge of how the systems work. This is where the experts come into place. We would appeal to the NITDA to provide experts to run, maintain and train the teachers with these systems (we are under the assumption that the teachers in this school are not computer literate). The training process helps the teachers also because it introduces a new teaching skill for them and also improves their learning abilities (the teachers can now do research to improve their knowledge base and in some cases further their own education). We would require the experts to stay on site and monitor the systems till they are convinced that the teachers can now take full control of the systems and use them to teach the students.

Michael Thomson has been the principal of ABTI academy for two years now. The school has a well equipped computer lab which consists of 25 computers. The computer lab has been there since the inception of the school. He noticed an improvement in students learning skills in relation to the computer lab saying that "it has been one of the greatest positive influences on the students" (Thomson, 2010). First of all, the access to information; specifically educative information has over the years helped out students to improve greatly in other courses such as history, English literature, etc. Also with the introduction of ICT, communication has been very effective between our senior school students (SS1-SS3) and their teachers. One of the Advantages of ICT in the school is improved flow of information between lecturers and students. The students submit coursework online in a timely manner; they partake in discussions in online forums for their projects, they have enough resources to do research on topics for their coursework and they have a standard knowledge of the concepts of IT (information technology). One of the disadvantages of implementing ICT is the fact that the Students often spend more time on their own personal work than the class work assigned to them but we also have a high restriction on our internet thus prohibited sites cannot be accessed. He also mentioned that if the school didn't have a computer lab, his major concern would be that the students would go through the institution without any knowledge of ICT services and how they can help them.

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Recommendations

We are pleading with the Adamawa state government to not only improve the school in its rural areas but to also enlighten the governors of the other states on this matter. This project should be used as a foundation for many more. The Nigerian government should be able to work with organizations in the private sector to improve these schools. So far, some organizations have started. According to a report by (Agyeman, 2007),

The ICT revolution has also registered corporate backing not only with computer companies like

Zinox but also with the banks. Over 80 schools have benefited from the Zenith Bank's ICT for

Youth Empowerment scheme. The scheme focuses on assisting Nigerian youth to bridge the

digital divide through early introduction to ICT. Each school receives a minimum of 10

computers.

To encourage the use of ICT, the bank organises an annual ICT empowerment forum for youth

that attracts about 2000 secondary- and tertiary-level students. The bank distributed 100 personal

digital assistants (PDAs) to the first 100 students to arrive at the venue in 2006.

More initiatives like this should be established and these organizations should start reaching out to schools in rural areas instead of just urban schools. When opportunities like this are created for these rural schools, there will be equality amongst everyone and all the Nigerian children would have an opportunity to standard education.

We are pleading with the Adamawa state government, NITDA, ETF and SchoolNet to come together and realize the potential of this project and how it would go a long way in improving the Nigerian educational infrastructure as a whole.

Conclusion

In order to provide standard education to the youths of Nigeria, necessary facilities and infrastructure need to be provided. The students need to be able to meet up with regular school standards in this day and age i.e. they need to move along with the technological world. Implementing ICT in rural schools would go a long way in improving these schools and to an extent, the areas themselves. In order for these students to be equal with students from other developed schools, they need to be given a chance; they need to be given the opportunities that are being given to the more fortunate schools/students. The Nigerian government needs to review its policies on ICT in education and reconfigure it to provide quality education across the nation.

It is important for the government to engage in research on past case studies concerning this topic in order to see the impact it has had in other countries, especially the developed countries in the western world. The Nigerian government should work extensively to improve the education sector and follow up on this paper by finding other ways to also add to the factors to improve education in rural areas.