By Frank Inyang
Penultimate Friday, the Cross River State Government further cemented its leading position as the most ICT-friendly state in the country with the distribution of laptop computers to about ten thousand secondary school teachers.
The distribution of the computers is aimed at enhancing and fast-tracking the implementation of the e-learning policy of the state government.
The Project Management Officer (PMD) of T-CAP Project, Mr. Chinenye Mba Uzoukwu disclosed that each of the laptops has a variety of over 300 subjects to enable teachers teach their students as well as enrich themselves.
Questions set in the past 20 West African Examinations Council (WEAC) examinations and their answers in every subject are also installed in the laptops.
He said the laptops are connected to internet services and are also installed with anti-virus.
Uzoukwu explained that by the exercise, the entire state will provide a new brand of leadership to move the country forward.
Only about two weeks ago, interswitch, an integrated payment and transaction processing company, had as part of its 10 years anniversary, specifically honoured Cross River for integrating identity and payment technology to enhance provision of dividends of democracy to the citizens and residents of the state.
Late last year, the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) had similarly honoured the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, declaring him the “Digital Governor.”
So when the state government flagged off the Teachers Laptop Computer Distribution to enhance its e-learning in schools, the state made history as the first state in Nigeria to make all her teachers ICT compliant.
Speaking during the flag-off of the distribution of computers to teachers, the state Acting Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, said since the world has gone digital, the gesture was borne out of the state government’s desire to belong to the league of nations that have done it right in using ICT to transform and revolutionalize education, adding that any nation that negates education will remain perpetually under-developed.
“The world has been turned into a global village with the role computer is playing. So the state’s decision to key into it is apt to enable our students compete with their peers anywhere,” he stated.
The journey to turn around education in the state did not begin today. It started with an Education Summit immediately the present administrator came on board in 2007, which reviewed the educational system, content and quality and came out with what is now known as the Cross River State Standard.
This involved a comprehensive renovation of schools across the state and for a start, 60 secondary schools were taken under the phase-one- of the programme while 41 schools have been earmarked for phase two.
This included the building and equipping of four laboratories for the basic sciences, namely Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science with state of-the- art- equipment based on the high premium which the state places on education as reflected on its annual budget.
This is in keeping in line with the underpinning philosophy of the Imoke administration, which is that the development of the human resource is the best infrastructure to invest in.
Cross River is doing it right because it understands the fact that a state which aspires to become a leading Nigerian State will only be day dreaming if it does not step up its acts by according education a top priority.
Commissioner for Education, Prof Offiong E. Offiong, explained that e-learning is simply the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate teaching and learning.
Fashioned after models in countries like Finland, Canada, Korea and India, Offiong said the policy will position the state and its people to be able to respond positively to the demands of the 21st century.
With teachers seen as the drivers of literacy, he said “it became imperative for the teachers to first be made to acquire ICT skill/knowledge and then step down same to the children in schools.”
He disclosed that for effective use of the computers, a training programme for the teachers commences in a few days.
The e-learning policy is expected to leverage on the Tinapa Knowledge City established last year at the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort.
The Tinapa Knowledge City is an ICT incubator, the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
Here young graduates are trained on the development of computer programming and software development.
The state government is collaborating with First Bank and Ecobank on the e-learning project, which according to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, is a “watershed in the annals of Education history in Cross River State.”
Inyang, a journalist, wrote in from Calabar.