Dr. Saidat Adebukola Onashoga (Mrs.), a Chartered IT Professional (CITP), is the chairman Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Ogun State Chapter. She holds N.C.E in Mathematics/Computer Ed. She later proceeded to University of Agriculture, Abeokuta to study Mathematical Sciences with an option in Computer Science. At the recent Applied Information Technology (AIT) Conference 2015 held in FUNAAB, Ogun State, she spoke to peter ugwu on the essence of igniting computer education (right from the kindergarten) for national development.
New IT Techniques
Currently, Big Data analytics is a new method that tells us gone were the days data are not easily harnessed. Software now exists and other data mining tools for harnessing data.
The interesting thing about BIG DATA is that you may not necessarily use all the data before reaching a conclusion, rather with software or data mining techniques, you can extract the data that concern your study or meant to aid your work.
Today, we are looking at Telemedicine; there are technologies that aid medical practitioners to make prompt responses to cases, evaluating cases and in making informed decisions about patients. If you are looking at e-Governance, there are mobile technologies that can combine several indices.
In fact, we ought to be developing m-Governance techniques by now, because of the vast ways Nigerians are accessing the tool. Greater percentage of the people access the internet using (smart) mobile phones, that is what pervasive computing entails.
Theme for Conference 2015
Well, if you are considering conference tagged as applied information technology, it isn’t that people do not have knowledge of how they can apply IT, but looking at the trend IT is headed now, we thought of considering the modifications and disruptions on the old IT techniques. The emphases are on current trends, methods and Insights of IT application.
Universities’ Role on Deepening Technology Development
Yes, in the recent past, the academic, especially public universities have been charged the responsibility of producing graduates who are capable of competing with their counterparts either in the private universities or those abroad.
There are various ways to look at it. When an institution fails to align the undergraduates with the practical know-how, or shield them from tapping the technical competencies of the practitioners in the field, such cannot be ruled out, because the students will be missing a lot.
When there is an accord between the universities and the industry, such will widen the learning scope of the students.
There are differences between theoretical and applied computing. Applied computing knowledge should be gained from the professionals in the industry.
One thing we can do in this era is to integrate some professionals into the academic world, instead of allowing the students to base their orientation or knowledge on the theoretical aspects of computing. It is good to involve them.
The way we are going, it is good to involve the practitioners. The practical should not be limited to during project-writing or thesis, rather from the first day a student enrolls in school, he ought to start learning ‘hands-on’ computer.
For instance, in FUNAAB, the students’ industrial (training) attachment has been extended from three months to six months, to avail them the opportunity to get more knowledge of the industry.
IT Practitioners in Government Agencies
As a nation, we can’t rule out the importance of research. Research adds fresh impetus to whatever we are doing. Government may not be able to appreciate the importance of new trends in ICT unless they are expatiated on.
In the ‘80s, only the multinational corporations had access to certain tools, but developments have broken down the borders, bringing technology in the hands of even small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
For example, cloud computing has room for both large, medium and small enterprises. So, the best approach is to engage the academics to thinker on the templates for the tools through research and allow others who are practitioner to develop the output.
If we take our minds back, a company like Google was developed through research. The difference between our approach to technology and developed nations is just that the academia and the practitioners mingle.
The reason is that as the schools are researching, the results are forwarded to the industry for implementation. Government cannot shy away from involving the critical stakeholders in this regard, because technology is like a radio message which is transient; it waits for nobody.
Need to Review Educational Curriculum
There is definitely need for a review of so many things; the educational policy, the curriculum, among others. However, we are not waiting on the Government to do everything.
Recently, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Ogun State Chapter launched a ‘Computer Brains Club’.
The large turnout of people on the day it was launched pointed to us the fact they have the urge to know about the computer and its usage. We have a plan to develop a curriculum that is a bit different from what the children learn in schools. It is our urge to see the limitation they have are eliminated.
The programme is targeted at pupils from Primary 3 up to senior secondary 3. Without ‘disruptions’ in our educational curriculum, we might not witness such ‘disruptive’ technological advancements acumen inculcated in our students. There should be a five year review of our curriculum and must accommodate opinions of professionals during the policy-making processes.
Areas in IT Needing Governments’ Attention
If I were to be asked the nexus between us and IT development, I will refer us to the grassroot fact: Education. To power the nation through the youths is only possible when we get the educational sector right.
Today, we see a three-year old operating an iPad. Such a child appreciates the seamless in flipping through the iPad. He might not understand the technology behind it. Now, how many of Nigerians-developed applications are in the iPad.
We tend to feel fulfilled when statistics are released on number of smartphones, tablets, computers or phablets imported into Nigeria each.
What is our gain, content-wise as regarding the technologies? We ought to have moved beyond where we are now in IT development. I believe so much in training and re-training, therefore, every government officials should be trained to be ICT compliance.
About 75% of our activities in NCS Ogun are geared towards training to encourage people to embrace IT. If the crop of government appointees believe in IT culture it would have been easier to get some things done.
They don’t really think technology should be relied on, rather their focus has been oil and gas, but we know the messy state of the oil and gas sector.
We have to encourage aggressive compliance to e-banking or e-commerce. In a country like America, it is taboo for one to use personal emails to government related emails, but in Nigeria a body like the Nigeria internet Registration Association (NiRA) has been advocating for .gov.ng domain names among government establishments and their officials. There are still others, yet to comply with, because they do not really understand the gains.
The Viable NCS Chapter
The pious leadership we witness in NCS Ogun State Chapter was borne out of passion among the executives.
The agenda we set at first have helped in directing our programmes and ideals. NCS Ogun, as an Association, is driven by the inspiration and programmes targeted at enhancing the nation’s technological development.
We cannot continue to play the second fiddle in the comity of IT nations; we must not be that dumping ground for all manner of IT gadgets, consuming everything and developing nothing.
When you are passionate about a course, even challenges cannot deter you. For example, if we are exposed to more funds, we can then embark on numerous programmes; but event sponsors are not forthcoming as it should.
Women in IT
It is important to enlighten our girls in schools: if someone wants to study computer science, you cannot run away from mathematics.
That is on one of the principal reasons the American Government is emphasizing ‘STEM’- Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The best thing is for the parents to start encouraging their girls in learning mathematics from the cradles. IT is money, IT is life, IT is dollar, IT is whatever you need. Forget about the rigorous processes, rather focus on the end-gains.
IT is a profession with a future, so, ladies should not shy away or be discouraged from the industry which is relatively men’s world at the moment. Women are moving into it too.
The first Minister of Communication Technology was a woman, we have women CEOs in the ICT industry. We have women CIOs, engineers, and others who are doing us proud, we expect others to join the moving train.