The heated controversy generated by the recent implementation of a voluntary laptop acquisition scheme for primary school teachers in Anambra State has finally been dispelled by the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha who revealed that the revolutionary policy was actually an initiative of the National Council on Education that was hatched in 2012.
Addressing journalists in Awka on Tuesday, Prof. Omenugha wondered why there was so much hoopla over a policy that her Ministry was merely implementing to give Anambra children the chance to compete with their peers from across the globe in an ever dynamic computer age.
The Commissioner used the opportunity to re-emphasize the fact that the laptop acquisition scheme which gives primary school teachers a chance to acquire first rate laptops complete with a synchronized tutorial package was actually a voluntary scheme and as such not mandatory on the teachers to subscribe to.
According to her, the National Council on Education had at its 58th meeting in Abuja in 2012 decided among many other things that all state ministries of education should comply with the instruction to “supply adequate number of computer laptops on soft loan basis to all teachers and continually organize training workshops and seminars for teachers on effective use of computer,” pointing out that her Ministry felt compelled to carve out a better path for the future of Anambra children by embracing the policy to ensure that teachers have enough computer literacy to impart the same knowledge on the children.
Speaking further, Prof. Omeugha explained that the policy thrust of the National Council on Education was in tandem with governor Obiano’s Blueprint for Education which prescribes a laptop for every teacher by 2015 and a palmtop for every student by 2016. She also pointed out that the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum Structure of the National Council on Education advocates that Primary 1 – 3 pupils are to be taught Basic Technology and Information Technology.
“It becomes therefore, very necessary that every teacher must be computer literate. We have promised our children to have a globally competitive education. I always like to give myself as a good example. I was born in the village; I grew up in the village and spent 27 years of my life in the village. But from there I was able to get a scholarship to study for my PhD in the United Kingdom at the University of Gloucestershire through the Internet.I didn’t pay a kobo. Therefore, what we promise Anambra children is education that is globally competitive and one of the ways you can be globally competitive is through a good knowledge of ICT,” Prof. Omenugha explained.
Emphasizing the inevitability of computer knowledge to modern education, Prof. Omenugha observed that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) would soon become a computer based test and NECO had taken the same path, insisting that from 2016, every exam that is “Objective” would be computer based. “So, how would you produce children who can compete nationally and internationally with teachers who are still analogue?” she queried, pointing out that no teacher could give any pupil what he does not have.
“That is why we have thought it wise to produce a scheme that will enable teachers to key in VOLUNTARILY in getting a laptop. It is not mandatory. That must be very clearly understood. The scheme is not mandatory on any teacher,” she further emphasized pointing out that it was in view of this that teachers were given a Consent Form to sign, thereby giving them the option of refusing to buy the laptops if they choose not to.
Said she: “I know that making changes always comes with a lot of challenges and a lot of resistance. But it is important to note that everything we are doing is to drive a policy that is already in existence at the Federal level.”
Accordingly, Prof. Omenugha announced that teachers in Anambra State had been given up till January 2016 to become computer literate or lose out on the chances of promotion while Principals have been given till November 2016 to become computer literate. By the same token, the Commissioner announced that computer literacy is a major pre-requisite to teaching in Anambra State.
She recalled that the Obiano administration had shown enough willpower to galvanize education in Anambra State, pointing at the recent training of 23 teachers from the state in Singapore as a landmark achievement by the administration.
Prof. Omenugha also lamented that the Microsoft Academy Vouchers procured by the past administration at the cost of USD 1 million were abandoned for years and were almost about to expire until she discovered them and reached out to Microsoft to get an extension of the expiration period.