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» » NCC COMMENDED FOR IT'S INTERVENTIONS IN TERTIARY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA AT UNN ANNUAL LECTURE
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It was a historic outing for the Nigerian Communications Commission today as its EVC/CEO, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta delivers the 46th Convocation Lecture at the Princess Alexandra/Unity Hall of the University's Main Campus in Nsukka.

The occasion chaired by the President of National Industrial Court, Honourable Justice Babatunde Adejumo, was as revealing as it was enchanting and incisive. The entire University community led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba, Members of the University Governing Council, Members of the University Senate, Management Staff and students gathered to receive the lecture and made hearty commendations for the great interventions the NCC instituted to bridge the digital divide and to enhance national transformation.

Professor Danbatta recalled that the deployment of ICT infrastructure in the precinct of the Nigerian tertiary institutions nudged the establishment of the Nigerian Research and Education Networks (NgREN), which ensures that Universities communicate, collaborate, access and share resources.

The overarching advantages in deploying ICT in education include the fact that through ICT, images can easily be used in teaching and improving the retentive memory of students; teachers can easily explain complex instructions and ensure students' comprehension; and teachers are able to create interactive classes and make the lessons more enjoyable, which could improve student attendance and concentration.

The EVC outlined and explained in details several intervention initiatives, programmes and projects the NCC inaugurated, and also mention the remarkable and measurable impact they have had on the realities in the education sector in Nigeria.

These programmes, projects and initiatives include:
Broadband infrastructure and facilities to the universities and other institutions of learning in Nigeria; and access programmes which include twelve (12) ICT/CBT Centres that are on-going under Stakeholders Initiated Project (SIP); as well as additional 4 skills acquisition Centres which are also scheduled for completion soon.

There is also the Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centers (TIKC), an initiative of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), a Department in NCC. The TIKCs are designed to promote the use of ICT tools in teaching and learning at tertiary institutions and their neighbouring communities.
In addition to the above are the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) Learning Centres established with training facilities and equipped with modern ICT infrastructure for training engineers, ICT professionals, policy makers, and regulators in the relevant and related sectors of the economy. Currently there are five (5) DBI learning centres across the country - Yola, Enugu, Asaba, Oshodi and Kano.

Still there is the National Teacher's Institute e-Learning Centres. The USPF recently handed over an e-Learning Centre to the Management of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna.

There are also Information Resource Centres (IRC), another USPF intervention project to create ICT-driven knowledge management (digital libraries) within the existing public libraries to enable e-libraries effective resource sharing and access to e-content. Beneficiary libraries are provided with desktop computers, server systems, UPS, printers, computer furniture, air conditioners, library software, scanner, 60 KVA generator and VSAT equipment with bandwidth. More than thirty (30) state libraries and twenty six (26) tertiary institutions across the geo-political zones of the country have benefited.

Another noble initiative is the University Inter-Campus Connectivity (UnICC) – The UnICC is a support project to the National Universities Commission’s Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) project. Its primary purpose is to deliver broadband infrastructure and access to facilitate research and learning using Optic Fibre Cable (OFC).

 A total of 381.7 km OFC has been deployed in fifteen (15) Universities linking them with their medical colleges. The UNN enjoyed a total of 26.3 km of OFC capacity linking the University with its College of Medical Sciences at Ituku-Ozalla.

At the moment deployment of OFC is ongoing in another nine (9) Universities. There is also the UnICC Electronics Project which involves interconnecting end-user Electronics within the University Campus. Currently, provision of connectivity is ongoing in five (5) Universities across the country.

The Commission has provided data sharing platforms for learning and health system in Nigerian Universities and Teaching Hospitals, as well as training facilities with modern ICT infrastructure to promote learning and teaching in our institutions. These include: Data Sharing, e-learning Platforms and ICT Infrastructure to selected Universities across the country.

The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Bayero University Kano (BUK), The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Federal University of Technology Akure (FUA) and Federal University of Technology Yola (FUTY) have benefited.

In addition, the Data Sharing, e-Health Platforms and ICT Infrastructure to selected University teaching hospitals across the country has also been deployed at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Bayero University Kano Teaching Hospital (BUKTH), Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) and Usman Dan-Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH).

The Wireless Cloud, another companion project also provides the platform for supporting campus-wide wireless access to the Internet service for teaching, learning, research and development to faculty staff and students of the nation's Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities. In this project, the NCC provides the necessary infrastructure, including masts, antennae, networking and twelve (12) months bandwidth supply and maintenance support. The Wireless Cloud project has benefitted numerous tertiary institutions in all the six geopolitical zones and the Federal Capital Territory.

One of the central capacity building programmes of the NCC is the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) conceptualized to bridge the digital gaps that exists in academia by providing computers, other ICT equipment and the necessary facilities to provide
lecturers, administrative staff and students with the requisite ICT skills essential for the 21st Century.

The Commission donates computers and other ICT equipment, which include scanners and printers to the beneficiary institutions. Yet, the provision of suites of e-Learning applications for academics and students in tertiary institutions across the country was instituted by the NCC to provide the tools that will enable familiarity and confidence in the utilization of ICT in teaching, research and learning.

 More than 300 institutions of higher learning are beneficiaries of the programme.

Percentage Distribution of NCC Training Programme in Tertiary Institutions

Type of Institution Percentage
Universities (Federal/State and Private) 46.88 %
University Teaching Hospitals 6.25 %
Polytechnics (Federal and State) 23.96 %
Colleges of Education & Agriculture 22.92 %
Total 100.00 %

Professor Danbatta told the audience that the World Economic Forum ranked Nigeria 134th out of 144 countries evaluated with respect to infrastructure to justify NCC’s aggressive commitment to redressing the infrastructure deficit especially in the ICT sector which is within NCC’s purview.

In a very instructive analysis that captured the distinctive exponential capacity and the speed of multiplier effect of ICTs, Danbatta recalled that it took 100 years for the benefits of the printing press to reach 50 million people and it took 40 years for the radio to reach the same number of people, but it took just 4 years for modern ICT to reach 50 million people just 2 years for the mobile phone to reach the same number of people.

Conclusively, the EVC said the astonishing intervention of the NCC as narrated in the spectacular convocation lecture are important but more important is the optimization of the infrastructure through creativity and innovation to enhance growth and development of the nation - that, he emphasized will be the real digital transformation.

Justice Adejumo, Professor Joy Ezeilo, Dean Faculty of Law at UNN’s Enugu Campus (UNEC), scholars and many other stakeholders also made observations about the challenges in the sector that need to be addressed.

Professor Danbatta thanked them for all the kind words, comments and observations. He said there are a number of initiatives and directions NCC birthed to address the challenges of telecom
consumers but people are not utilizing them adequately. He told the audience to use the Toll Free Line 112 for emergencies; and the equally Toll Free Number 622 for complaints about telecom service provision. The EVC bemoaned the low number of consumers who have activated the DO NOT DISTURB (DND) Code, 2442 and persuasively request the audience to amplify NCC’s voice by telling people to activate the Code in order to stop unwanted and unsolicited messages as well as calls from telemarketing companies riding on the crest of telecommunication infrastructure.

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