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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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Editor's Note on Nigerian Educational System and Languages:

Nigerian school children attend primary school from the ages of 6 to 12. The next three years students attend Junior Secondary School (JSS) followed by another three years of Senior Secondary School (SSS) thus graduating when they are 18 years old. In 1999, the Nigerian education policy mandated JSS as the minimum educational level for all students. Since this policy is fairly new many students have not yet reached this level and a considerable percentage of Nigerian citizens are still illiterate.

There are around 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria with many diverse languages. But largely speaking, there are three major languages. The most prominent is Hausa and the remaining others are Yoruba and Igbo, however English is the official language of Nigeria.

(Information based on correspondance with the authors)

Methods of Study

Fifty-four teachers in twenty secondary schools, 10 federal government colleges and 10 private schools, completed a questionnaire and oral interviews were conducted. The questionnaire consisted of four parts with twenty-five items. Five questions concerned general information; such as sex, qualifications, and computer experience, six questions concerned facilities; types of hardware, computer laboratory, and textbooks, eight questions concerned training; proficiency and the number of teaching personnel, and six questions concerned maintenance and funding. Around 200 junior school students were also interviewed regarding their computer competence. The data was then analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results and Findings

Research Question 1: To what extent have the policy objectives been achieved in schools?

Two fundamental objectives were previously highlighted:

  1. To bring about a computer literate citizenry in Nigeria by the mid-1990’s
  2. To enable present school children to appreciate the potential of the computer and be able to use the computer from Junior Secondary School (JSS) One to Senior Secondary School (SSS) Three

Computer education is still limited to Federal Unity Secondary Schools. It is scarcely offered in any of the state secondary schools, which constitutes more than 80% of Nigerian schools. Though some private schools have introduced computer instruction into their school system, the number of schools that offered computer education is negligible compared to the general schools’ population. From the questionnaires, the teaching of computer education in the federal government schools is limited to JSS levels only. However, very few private schools offered it at the SSS level. Almost 80% of the junior school students interviewed agreed that they could not operate computers. Therefore, the use of computers in education is rare in Nigerian schools. Also, the computer literate citizenry envisaged almost a decade ago is still a mirage. Very few school children have the opportunity to experience any type of computer instruction in school.

Research Question 2: How congruent is the hardware provision in schools with policy dictates?

Policy dictates 8 personal computers per school. This number is calculated based on the assumption that each computer class comprises 40 students or one computer for every 5 students. Policy further stipulates the following as the standard computer configuration for schools:

  1. The 16-bit microprocessor (INTEL compatible)
  2. Monochrome graphics monitors
  3. 2 floppy diskette drives
  4. 640 KB memory capacity
  5. Standard keyboard which is suitable for graphics and word- processing
  6. MS-DOS version 3.0 and above
  7. 80-column Printer

To determine the congruency of school practice with these stipulations, the number and type of computers in schools were obtained.

Table1: Computer Hardware Facilities

No. of Working Computers No. of Schools Percentages
Private
Public
Total
Private
Public
Total
0 – 2
2
2
4
20
20
20
3 – 5
2
6
8
20
60
40
6 - 8
2
2
4
20
20
20
9 – 11
3
0
3
30
0
15
12 and above
1
0
1
10
0
5
Total
10
10
20
100
100
100


From Table 1, about 80% of schools have at least five computers. The 8 computers per school policy is not the reality in these schools. The accepted computer class number in schools is 40 according to the policy, but public schools greatly exceed this number with an average class membership of almost 50. Thus the current student-computer ratio of 10:1, which is the case in public schools, is far from the policy stipulation. Furthermore the computer configurations dictated by the policy are now obsolete as indicated in Table 2.

Table 2: Computer Hardware Types in schools.

Types of Computer Systems No. of Computers Percentages
Private
Public
Total
Private
Public
Total
IBM Compatibles
(old versions i.e. PBC Acorn, 486
)
56
22
78
74
69
72
Gateway 2000 (Pentium 233)
6
0
6
8
0
6
Compaq(Pentium 233)
13
0
13
17
0
12
(Pentium 233)
0
5
5
0
16
5
Apple 2E
1
5
6
1
16
6
Total
76
32
108
100
100
100


several boys in ties working around computers

It is obvious that the majority of the computers in schools are outdated. However, this is not much of a deviation from the policy which dictates the use of obsolete computers. This was not the case at the time of policy formulation and is an indication that the policy itself is long overdue for revision. It does seem that the greater portion of computers in schools were procured many years ago when computer innovations were first introduced.

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2005
ISSN 1097 9778
URL: http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/sum2003/nigeria/2.html
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