As part of its ‘Catch Them Young’ programme, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is organising information technology quiz competition for all secondary schools in Nigeria. The first stage is for state governments to hold the competition in their states and present the winner to represent them at the zonal contest after which a national competition will hold. Senior Correspondent, Ngozi Oboh reports that the quiz was organised last week in Abuja for schools in the North Central zone with only five states participating.
Only five out of the seven states expected to participate at the IT quiz competition in the north central geopolitical zone were present. Kwara and Nassarawa States were absent but at the end of the contest, Plateau State emerged winners.
Each of the participating senior secondary schools had three representatives who were expected to be versed in all aspects of information technology especially the computer and the internet.
The competition commenced with the quiz master reeling out the rules which includes the participant picking questions from 1 to 70; the questions were read out and also beamed on the screen. Each state had 3 seconds to answer and each correct answer attracts 10 marks. The time keeper and the scorers were on hand too.
The performance of the students were not very impressive as only one state scaled above the average score while others were either average or below it.
Out of the total mark of 100 per cent, Niger State scored 30; FCT 40; Kogi and Benue 50 while Plateau State scored 70 per cent. After the initial tie between Kogi and Benue State, Kogi eventually took the second position. The questions according to the organisers were drawn from the IT curriculum of secondary schools.
All the schools were recognised with participation plaques but the first place winners were given a 15” HP Laptop, 3 packets of CD, I USB and 3 units of printers. Kogi state went home with 14” laptop, 1 memory stick, 1 packet of CD and 3 units printer while Benue was given 1 unit of printer, 1 mini laptop and 1 memory stick as third place winning prize.
Representatives of the states complained of not having enough time to prepare for the competition. A teacher from St. John’s College Jos, Hosea Wamyil said: “We were told this week (last Monday) and we just hand-picked the participants. We got his information very late.”
The Kogi State case was worse as they were misinformed about the subject of the competition and had prepared for natural sciences instead of Computer Studies.
Director Schools and Colleges, Kogi State ministry of education, Kayode Stephens, said they employed fire brigade approach in participating at the competition. “It was about four days ago that we got to know. Before we could get to other schools in other places it was really cumbersome.”
Plateau State Commissioner for Education, Athanasius Nanle Dashen, commended this initiative by NITDA and disclosed the state’s plan to domesticate the programme as a way of boosting ICT studies.
“To have an agency like NITDA that is particularly concerned with the promoting of teaching IT in our schools is very encouraging. It will now sensitise the students and make them more alert that we are now faced with the reality that we are in an ICT world and they are being challenged to be in a competition to showcase their talents.”
He said the students have made them proud and they would gear up for the next stage.
One of the students from Plateau State, Babangida Aliyu, who aspires to a medical profession, said when they got the information about the competition, they had lessons everyday and also revised.
He said ICT subjects are “very interesting. Everybody should take it up.”
Observers at the competition believe that more work needs to be done to ensure adequate diffusion of IT knowledge to school children at early stage of their lives.
Director- General of NITDA, Cleopas Angaya, at the opening of the competition pointed out that successful execution of this programme in all states of the federation would have a very high positive impact in the learning and application of knowledge based system for the children.
“NITDA provides a form of its catch them young programme in which secondary school students compete for excellence in information technology,” he said. “The catch them young programme provides an excellent incubator for children as information technology scientists, It is mainly targeted at kids in order to develop and implement a long term strategy for human capacity building in information technology in Nigeria.”
Angaye said the programme would assist students with the provision of IT fundamentals to prepare them for technological growth and global competitiveness in their chosen career.
The deployment of the best ICT infrastructure in any society does not necessarily translate to achievement of the desired result without the necessary human capital to make them work properly.
The need to adequately equip Nigerian youths who constitute the largest percentage of the population on the use of technologies cannot be over-emphasised.
“It has therefore become highly imperative to fully integrate ICT in our educational system in order to empower them for the challenges of the global information society.”
Knowledge management in the country should then be encouraged, nurtured and exploited in order to achieve youth empowerment, value re-orientation and wealth creation.
The quiz competition, Angaye said was in continuation of NITDA’s contribution towards positioning Nigeria as a key player in the current global digital economy through the development of critical mass of IT proficient personnel.
A similar programme was organised for primary school children by NITDA in 2006.