Behold The Analogue Teacher

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke glowingly of the digital age when he said: “Today’s world is, in many respects, governed by science and technology. Every facet of life and society is shaped or influenced by the computer and knowledge and information-related technology. Unfortunately, not many in the developing world know the full value of the computer and its implication for socio-economic and political advancement. It is this recognition that has made it imperative that we ease access to, and use of computers amongst all Nigerians irrespective of class, age, gender and location.”
This was ex-president Obasanjo’s opening address when he launched Computers for All Nigerians initiative (CANi) in Abuja, on July 6, 2006; an occasion that formally opened the floodgate for massive acquisition of computers in Nigeria. Quite apart from CANi, two significant developments in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) world, perhaps, compelled Nigeria to join the digital age. These developments were the United Nations World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis, Tunisia, from November 16-18, 2005, and the Digital World Conference held in Abuja from September 12-13, 2006, with the theme: “ICT for Education and Development.” The WSIS identified Information and Communication Technology as the main instrument for the considerable acceleration of development all over the world during the next couple of decades and also highlighted the use of these tools to enhance the processes of education in Africa and elsewhere, while the Digital World Conference promoted dialogue and action towards taking full advantage of ICT tools to address the challenges and requirements for education and development in Africa.
The two global summits provided avenues and paved the way for the promotion of ICT in the education sector in Nigeria. They were, wittingly or unwittingly, the catalyst that propelled some Nigerian teachers to acquire ICT skills and drop their toga of analogue teachers!!
Measures were therefore adopted by the Federal Ministry of Education and its departments and agencies, particularly, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), the National Universities Commission (NUC), the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the then Education Trust Fund (ETF) to embark on nationwide ICT capacity building programs for their staff. For registered Nigerian teachers, particularly, the TRCN organized a five-day intensive practical training on the use of computer and internet resources while teachers at the tertiary level had a five-day roundtable to fashion out a blueprint for teachers’ professional development in ICT. Other strategies were also adopted to ensure massive sensitization of key stakeholders on the need to provide teachers with ICT skills and facilities.
Those that partnered the TRCN on the program were the National Information Technology Agency, Abuja; National e-Government Strategies, Abuja, Skills4Industry, USA, and renowned ICT experts from the universities and consulting firms. The capacity building program was successfully held on zonal basis for groups of either three or four states per zone, beginning with Lagos Zone on July 2, 2006, and ending with Jos Zone on December 10, 2006.
In 2006, the TRCN celebrated giant digital strides and declared 2006 ICT Year for Nigerian Teachers. Despite the giant digital strides and celebrations, most Nigerian teachers, especially the bulk in the rural areas, still remain ignorant of basic computer operations and so never imbibed the popular digital culture such that they become assets to themselves, their students, and the larger Nigerian society. They have, therefore, remained the old breed and old-fashioned analogue teachers who are left out of the loop of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) revolution.
It is significant to stress that, unlike the analogue teacher, the analogue phone has been phased out in the civilized world due to rapid technological developments and turnover of old technologies. In spite of this window of opportunity, the analogue teacher has dramatically resisted change. All the benefits accruing from the digital age, with myriads of services now rendered and received electronically, have eluded him. Since teachers form the bulk of Nigeria’s teaching force, is there hope that they could acquire the basic operational knowledge of the computer so as to remain relevant in the teaching profession and refuse to be relegated to the dust bin of history?
Although Nigerian governments, at all levels, embarked on programs to imbue teachers with ICT skills and competences in the past decade, the efforts have not paid required dividends as they failed to impact positively either on the education system or the larger Nigerian society. The victim remains the poor analogue teacher. Under the circumstances, do we still expect him to measure up and remain relevant in the teaching profession with his gross disability, incompetence and dysfunction in the digital age?

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