By ADEDEJI FAKOREDE
IN a bid to bring the academic community up to date with the digital age, the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, in 2006, pursuant to its mandate, introduced Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme for Tertiary Institutions, ADAPTI. The aim was to bridge the digital divide existing in the academia through the provision of computers and other Information Communication Technology, ICT, facilities to equip the lecturers, improve their skills and to enrich the knowledge of the students. The programme is made up of two key aspects-the supply of hardware to the beneficiaries, and training.
The trainings are aimed at equipping senior administrators and academics of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education with functional skills in Microsoft word, excel PowerPoint as well as access to the internet in order to improve their level of productivity. The overriding objective of the commission’s intervention has been to elicit pervasive application of ICT skills in the academia for enhanced staff output, institutional efficiency and to get the students acquainted with e-based learning for sustainable national growth. Feedback from the post-ADAPTI survey carried out by the commission shows that a growing number of academic staff of the tertiary institutions now engages their students electronically and some have even started to upload their academic publications on the web to participate in the global platform for knowledge sharing.
Through the ADAPTI programme, the NCC has supported eight tertiary institutions in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country with the provisions of 110 laptop computers with e-learning facilities. The objective is specifically to provide tools that support flexibility and mobility in the use and application of ICT in teaching, learning and research.
From 2010 to 2013, a number of senior staff of tertiary institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country has benefitted from ADAPTI programme. Records show that a total of 12,600 people have benefitted from this programme. This is broken down as follows: in 2010, 1,149 people benefitted across 133 institutions; in 2011, 2,785 from 216 institutions; in 2012, the number increased to 5,531 beneficiaries from 175 institutions; and in 2013, another 5,135 people from 139 institutions benefitted from the programme.
Since its inception in 2006, a total of 18,707 administrators and academics from institutions of higher learning across the country have benefitted from this intervention by the NCC. As a result of the tremendous impact that the programme has made across the country, a deluge of requests from higher institutions of learning for the ADAPTI programme has seen the commission making more efforts to ensure that the ivory towers of Nigeria are in the forefront for the digital future.
Again, with the wireless cloud project of the NCC, the tertiary institutions in the country are in for good times. The wireless cloud project provides a platform for supporting campus-wide wireless access to internet service for teaching, learning, research and development in five schools I each of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
The NCC provides the infrastructure, 12 month bandwidth supply, and 12 months maintenance support. The principal objective is to encourage the use of ICT in academic development and to facilitate easier access to the vast intellectual resources available globally on the web. Many schools around the country have benefitted from ADAPTI, DAP and Wireless cloud projects and it is the goal of the NCC to take this programme to many more schools in Nigeria.
One of the major developments that have taken place under the regime of the former EVC, Dr. Eugene Juwah at NCC is the transformation of Nigeria’s ICT flagship institution, the Digital Bridge Institute, DBI, which came into being in 2004. Under his regime, the institute has undergone major transformation for the purpose of enlarging its scope and spread, and to impact on the national ICT human capital building effort.
The DBI with its headquarters in Abuja had acquired the NITEL training schools in Lagos and Kano, and transformed them into major campuses.
While providing facilities to match its new status, the Juwah administration at the NCC also initiated a programme of bringing the facilities nearer to the people across the country by establishing more campuses in the North-east, South-east and South-south zones. The new DBI campuses under construction are located in Yola in the North-east, Enugu in the south east and Asaba in the South-south. These projects are at about 80 per cent completion with physical infrastructures that are world class.
The structures are being developed in such a way that they can compare favorably with similar institutions in other parts of the world. The campus of DBI in Lagos provides a model of a multi-facility campus, similar to such institutions in the United States.
The facility provides standard accommodation for its executive students with provisions made for comfort and relaxation, such as gym and clubhouse. A full service canteen is positioned close to the hostel and apartment area. A good size auditorium is also provided and sited such that it can also be available for external use and rental while not interfering with the domestic activities on the campus.
In order to enhance the overall ambience of the institute, a deliberate attempt was made in the layout to provide ample car parking lots and adequate landscaping, walkways, external lighting, water supply and sewage works, surface water drainage works, fencing, security gates. Outdoor facilities include tennis courts and football pitch.
At the lower levels of the education sector, the Digital Awareness Programme, DAP, is on course. DAP is another special intervention programme by the NCC to address the digital information knowledge gap in the country, especially among the youthful population. The strategy in this programme is to expose schools and colleges to ICT awareness, usage and application by facilitating access to the tools. Under the project, selected institutions of learning spread across the country are equipped with computer laboratories fully installed with internet facilities and their teachers also exposed to ICT training in order to upgrade their knowledge and be able to impact ICT knowledge on their students.
At the last count, the DAP project has supported 229 secondary schools across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, with the provision of 21 desktop computers, local area network, printers, scanners, V-SAT dish and deployment of one year bandwidth subscription for internet access.
These facilities are complemented with standby generators and a special accommodation built for that purpose; thus aggregating everything into a fully kitted computer laboratory.