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Microsoft Releases 'Unlimited Potential to Learn'

Microsoft Nigeria's Partners in Learning (PiL) programme has completed the Kaduna leg of the training of primary and secondary school teachers and is moving to Abakaliki next week and Ibadan the week after. At the end of this round, 225 teachers, selected, nationwide, by the National Teachers' Institute and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC); would have been impacted with skills in the use of ICT in education and Microsoft education applications. Each of the trainees is expected to go back and train 10 of his/her colleagues, each of whom are also expected to impact on a minimum of 40 pupils. In addition to this, NTI will also work with Microsoft to develop a world class ICT curriculum for Nigerian schools.

The Memorandum of Understanding for PiL was signed with the Federal Government in 2004. PiL is a 215 million dollar, worldwide project of Microsoft that aims to take ICT to over a billion people, through the multiplying effect of 'train the trainer'. Besides building capacity through training, the programme supports schools curriculum and soft ware donations and subsidies to primary and junior secondary schools in Nigeria.

Last year, PiL trained about 3, 000 Nigerian teachers and students from different secondary schools and Colleges of Education, partnering with a couple of organisations, such as SchoolNet Nigeria.

The Unlimited Potential (UP) plan, of which PiL is a part, is Microsoft's long-term commitment to use technology, training and partnerships to transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities to sustain a continuous cycle of social and economic growth for the estimated five billion people around the world, who have yet to realize the benefits of technology.

Another project is the Home Makers' Programme for women in seclusion in Bauchi. Microsoft found that some of these women have PhDs, but they probably had not had anything to do with western education in decades until this programme. "They are now learning to use IT and also learning skills like sewing by the side. Learning to use the internet, they now visit sites that offer designs for them to make. They print them out, they are making them and selling them. They are doing Desktop Publishing, making greeting cards and wedding invitations. These are women who did not leave their house", Jummai Umar-Ajijola, the Citizenship Manager said. The grant was given in March and the first programme started in May with 45 women. "But we are scaling up. Another cycle of grants is expected in November." To make the women realise full benefits of their training in IT, the Bauchi community resource centre devoted two hours everyday for women alone to use the cyber café.

Another partner of Microsoft is Fantsuam Foundation in Bayan Loko, Kafanchan, Kaduna State, which has been supported to build a Knowledge Resource Centre. Part of the grant is meant for the training of some information officers, who take the information from the Knowledge Resource Centre to the communities, in the manner of the Town Criers of old. Fantsuam's area of intervention is microfinance, so it has a huge clientele of over 2, 000 people. It also has a HIV/AIDS intervention programme and offers free computer training to orphans and vulnerable children, which Microsoft also supports.

Analysis of the uses of information and communication technology for gender empowerment and sustainable poverty alleviation in Nigeria[1]

Most government poverty alleviation programmes through ICT (such as radio, newspaper, mobile phone etc) are now been communicated to the very poor the programmes are meant for. Monitoring of poverty alleviation programmes, feedback from the beneficiaries /non-beneficiaries are also done through ICTs such as "radio weekly link programme" Presidential monthly chart" etc. At the national, States and local level in Nigeria people can express their views on the performance of government anti-poverty programmes chatting with the president, governors or the local government chairperson as well as officers directly in charge of the execution of such programmes.

In addition, anti-poverty measures introduced through the use of ICT has been able to generate substantial amount of employment through the use of mobile phone by many Nigerian to sustain a living. There are many call centers in villages and towns mostly operated by people between age distributions of between 20-29 years (38%), mostly women with secondary/ post secondary education in Nigeria. Some of these people run shops for the sale of Global System of Mobile (GSM) accessories as a major form of occupation as means of self-employment as well as a means of sustaining livelihood (80% and 84% respectively as shown in Table 9). Past studies have shown that over 2,000 persons are directly employed by GSM operators and an estimated of 40,000 Nigerians are benefiting from indirect employment generated by GSM operators in Nigeria (Ndukwe, 2003). ICTs have also assisted in the area of micro-credits finance and cooperatives. Farmers are now organizing cooperatively to manage their access to market as an alternative to being at the mercy of powerful buyers. Credits are now easily made available to the poor for a better quality of life through such social groups and ICTs.

Through the use of ICTs such as the GSM telephone, transaction costs of many Nigerian who are poor have drastically been reduced. People make called before traveling and for business transaction. The technology has led to increase service innovation, efficiency and productivity.

In order for Nigeria to be economically competitive, politically stable, and socially secure, there is the need to utilize technology in making advances in health, politics, education, business, agriculture, consumer goods, national security and poverty reduction. The country needs to focus its attention on the development, access, and implementation of ICTs both in the rural area where majority of the poor resides and in the urban centers.

Formation of women association, farmer associations and Community-bases organisations at rural areas will act as training centres and access points for ICTs. From such group, the poor will be taught how to use computers for word processing, making complex calculations and tables of their work plans and income and expenditure. The access points will also play the role of information centres where price lists, weather forecasts will be available in any form either as print, digital, audio, video form. To achieve these, the following have been recommended by the authors:

**SchoolNet Nigeria**

SchoolNet Nigeria was launched in September 2001 with the support of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Telecommunications the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Education Tax Fund. It is a non-profit organization created to address the secondary education sector in Nigeria. SchoolNet Nigeria embodies a partnership between a diverse range of public and private sector interests to mobilize Nigeria’s human and financial resources for the purposes of using ICTs in education.


SchoolNet Nigeria creates learning communities of educators and learners who use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to enhance education within and beyond Nigeria, and to contribute to the transformation of the education system in Nigeria into one which participates in and benefits from the knowledge society.

Current projects

**Integrating Mobile Learning into Nomadic Education Programmes in Nigeria: Issues and perspectives**[[https://inafu6212-001-2007-3.wikispaces.columbia.edu/page/edit/Nigeria%20reaping%20Social%20Benefits%20from%20ICT?responseToken=cc01b9c513992788ad7ef99ba9f2eef8#_ftn2|**[2]]]

In Nigeria, there are six nomadic groups:

  1. The Fulani (with population of 5.3 million)
  2. The Shuwa (with population of 1.0 million)
  3. The Buduman (with population of 35,001)
  4. The Kwayam (with population of 20,000)
  5. The Badawi (with population yet to be established)
  6. The Fishermen (with population of 2.8 million)

The last group, The Fishermen, is concentrated in Rivers, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Cross River, and Akwa-Ibom States (FME, Education Sector Analysis, 2000). The first five nomadic groups listed are considered pastoralist nomads.

Of the estimated 9.3 million people that currently comprise Nigeria’s nomadic groups, approximately one third, that is 3.1 million are of school and pre-school age. The pastoral nomads are more highly disadvantaged than the migrant fishermen, in terms of access to education primarily because they are more itinerant. As a result, the literacy rate of pastoral nomads is only 0.28 percent, while that of the migrant fishermen is about 20 percent (FME, 2000). The basic responsibility of the Commission for Nomadic Education, among others, is to provide primary education to the children of pastoralist nomads – a responsibility shared with the States and Local Governments. To provide education to its nomads,a multifaceted strategy has been adopted by the Commission, that includes on-site schools, the ‘shift system,’ schools with alternative intake, and Islamiyya (Islamic) schools.

Delivery of educational services to the children of all nomadic groups has tended to follow the lines of the formal school system. Special attention was paid to these groups by the Nigerian Government when it set-up the National Commission for Nomadic Education by Decree 41 of 12 December 1989 (Federal Government of Nigeria, 1989).

By the beginning of the 1995/ 1996 school session, there were 890 nomadic schools in 296 Local Government Areas of 25 States of the Federation catering for the education needs of the children of pastoral nomads alone. Of these, 608 schools are owned and controlled by States, 130 by Local Government, and 152 by Local Communities. Together they serve 88,871 pupils of the estimated population of the 3.1 million nomadic school-age children. Of this number, 55,177 (62%) were boys and 33,694 (38%) were girls. There were 2,561 teachers, a majority of whom 1,326 or 51 percent were teacher-aides, who are unqualified and in need of upgrading. This has been the usual practice because of the nature and characteristics of the nomadic populace.

As of 1993, 661 schools had been built for pastoral nomads, out of which 24 percent (n 165) had permanent classrooms and 46 percent (n 293) had temporary classrooms built of grass, mats, canvas tarpaulins, et cetera. Subsequently, mobile, collapsible classrooms were procured. Altogether, the schools had an enrolment of 46,982 children taught by 1,896 teachers. This number, however, only scratches the surface of the problem, as it only serves an estimated 3.1 million primary school age nomadic children.

To improve the literacy rate among Nigeria’s nomadic populations, the National Commission for Nomadic Education employed various approaches such as onsite schools, ‘shift system’ schools with alternative intake, and Islamiyya (Islamic) schools, to provide literacy education to its nomads. A critical appraisal of these approaches by the commission, however, shows that very few of the schools were actually viable. The current mobile school system in the strictest sense remains sparingly used, primarily due to the enormity of problems associated with this model. Some mobile schools, however, are in operation in the River Benue area of Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Borno, and Yobe Sates.

37 percent of Nigerians owned only radio, while 1.3 percent owned only TV sets. Nearly forty-eight percent (47.8%) owned both radio and TV sets, while 13.9 percent had neither. Findings from the study revealed that radios are easily affordable, accessible, and often more handy to use than TV. Those without TV and radio, however, still have access to the media through socialization in their local communities.

The pastoral Fulani as a captive audience for radio and television programmes have radios, which they carry along during herding. The literate world can, thus, reach itinerants Fulani without disrupting their nomadic life or livelihood. To improve literacy, especially in the rural areas, the Nigerian Government has introduced radio and television educational programmes. The government supplies hardware such as radio, television, and electric generators, and builds viewing rooms for public use.

The social structure of Nigerians encourages communal living, which encourages people within the same household or community to share things. This is especially true for the nomadic families. Nomadic people tend to share whatever they have without grudge; thus, their ‘culture of sharing’ encourages communal television viewing and as such, should advance the use of tele-centres to accommodate literacy programmes aimed at teaching nomadic populations.

Only 31.6 percent of Nigerians own television sets. The percentage of those without television sets is higher due to poverty and low incomes of many Nigerians. This study also reveals that radios are more affordable, and hence attainable, than television sets. Indeed, many Nigerians face difficult times as many families have been affected by retrenchment, under-employment, and unemployment in recent times. This creates and perpetuates a situation whereby many adult Nigerians – who are often struggling to support and feed their families – cannot afford luxury goods like televisions. To further exacerbate problems brought about by pressures of high inflation, electrical failures are common throughout Nigeria, a reality that further discourages many Nigerians from buying power-hungry appliances and durable goods like television sets. The major source of electricity is government owned. In Nigeria’s cities, where electricity does exist, power interruptions are very common, while most rural areas altogether lack the electrical infrastructure to power televisions.

Time of tuning to radio or TV varies according to programmes of interest and the time of the day, when the audience’s attention is most available. A survey conducted by this study showed that Nigerians tuned to radio all day long. Of those surveyed, 97.5 percent indicated that they listened to radio in the morning, 88.5 percent in the afternoon, while 97 percent and 91.2 percent listen in the evening and night, respectively. Of those surveyed, 61.7 percent view television in the morning, 51.4 percent in the afternoon, 88.1 percent in the evening, and 93 percent in the night. These findings indicate that higher percentages of Nigerians tune into radio and television during the evening and at night.

These findings suggest that scheduling of education programmes for community education purposes (i.e., nomadic educational programmes) will be more effective if broadcasts are transmitted when audiences are most available and, arguably, attentive.

Ownership of radios naturally leads to radio listening habits. It is expected that all members of a household will have access to radio (if available). Table 4 analyses the pattern of ownership of radios in Nigeria. 81.4 percent of Nigerians own a radio, while 18.6 percent had none. This shows that radios are readily available. The implication is that four out of every five members in any community own a radio. Broad access to radio arguably facilitates the flow of information to both urban and rural areas, and can assist in the development of community education, especially at the grassroots.

Audience listening habits develop based on overall availability of radio in the community. Table 4 shows that radios are readily available, primarily because they are affordable and easy to operate in both rural and urban centres. Nine out of every 10 Nigerian adults listen to radio. Analysis by State, also shows the same pattern with more State recording higher percentage of between 90 percent and 100 percent. As noted earlier, the accessibility to radios accounts for the high listening habits. Table 6 below examines how Nigerian’s listen.

The mode of listening in Table 6 indicates that the pattern of radio listening habits are uniformly distributed among those listening alone (25.7%), listening in-group (25.8%), and alone or in-group (47.6%). It is observed that across the States, listening habit ‘alone or in-group’ is higher than others. In fact, the ‘alone or in-group’ mode of listening is nearly the same as Nigerian’s TV viewing habits, with the exception of radio sets, which are more easily transportable. Group listening provides opportunity to discuss various programmes of interest and is arguably a good forum to develop education programmes.

Although the Nigerian Government has spent millions of naira (the currency of Nigeria) to support its nomadic education programme, educational attainment among the Fulani remains low, and the quality of education among them is mediocre at best. The current form of nomadic education, therefore, has truly yet to lift the literacy and living standards of the Fulani people as children of farmers rather than fulanis constitute up to 80 percent of the pupils in nomadic schools. In Plateau State, for example, only six of 100 children in the Mozat Ropp nomadic school are Fulani (Iro, 2006).

‘Literacy by Radio’ is an educational programme that has been implemented throughout the country. Indeed, radio currently provides instructions and relays messages to Nigeria’s nomads, who are typically on the move while grazing their cattles. The provision of tele-centres that provide Nigeria’s rural and nomadic peoples with practical skills acquisition are currently being used to teach topics such as health and socio-economic issues that affect their daily lives. Further, from a pedagogical perspective, Kinshuk (2003) believes mobile learning will serve a whole new highly mobile segment of society, a reality that could very well enhance the flexibility of the educational process. Chen, Kao, Sheu, and Chiang (as cited in Milrad, Hoppe & Kinshuk, 2003) say that characteristics of mobile learning must include:

According to Kinshuk (2003), mobile learning facilitates provision of educational opportunities. In the Nigerian context, Kinshuk’s (2003) work can be expanded to include the integration of mobile learning into nomadic educational contexts and programmes.
Mobile learning is the use of any mobile or wireless device for learning on the move. It is any service or facility that supplies a learner with general electronic information and educational content that aids their acquisition of knowledge, regardless of location and time.

Mobile learning, as a novel educational approach, encourages flexibility; students do not need to be a specific age, gender, or member of a specific group or geography, to participate in learning opportunities. Restrictions of time, space and place have been lifted.

Mobile technologies enable students to become more adaptable to flexible and contextual lifelong learning, a situation defined by Sharples (2000) as the “knowledge and skills” people need to prosper throughout their lifetime. Clearly, these activities are not confined to specified times and places; however, they are very difficult to achieve through traditional education channels. Put simply, mobile technologies fulfill the basic requirements needed to support contextual, life-long learning by virtue of its being highly portable, unobtrusive, and adaptable to the context of learning and the learners’ evolving skills and knowledge (Sharples, 2000).

Mobile schools use collapsible classrooms that can be assembled or disassembled within 30 minutes and carried conveniently by pack animals. While a whole classroom and its furniture can be hauled by only four pack animals, motor caravans are replacing pack animals to move the classrooms. A typical mobile unit consists of three classrooms, each with spaces to serve 15 to 20 children. Some classrooms are equipped with audio-visual teaching aids.

The processes of using mobile phones for educational purposes can be illustrated as:
    1. Mobile schools that can be dismantled and quickly moved have proven their worth and appear to fit with Nigeria’s nomadic peoples’ peripatetic culture, lifestyle and livelihood.
    2. The National Commission for Nomadic Education can enter into contractual agreement with the network providers to procure relatively inexpensive mobile phones, which can then distribute to the nomads in their schools.
    3. Designated learning centres can be established at strategic locations along the nomads traveling routes, providing a place where a facilitator can attend to the needs of the nomads. Other materials, such as learning manuals and programme syllabi, can also be distributed from these strategic locations.
    4. Facilitators, via a simple call using their mobile telephones, can call the nomads to track their students’ progress in their studies, and to determine and address any problems that any learner – whether they are stationary or mobile – typically face in mastering the course materials and learning objectives. Similarly, the nomadic learners can also be regularly encouraged to call the course facilitator on their mobile phones, should they encounter any problems or require clarification or help. Facilitators are also encouraged to call and network with their fellow facilitators. Use of mobile phone in one’s native language, helps to establish a cordial and hence, sustainable learning atmosphere based on trust and collegiality.

E-agriculture [[https://inafu6212-001-2007-3.wikispaces.columbia.edu/page/edit/Nigeria%20reaping%20Social%20Benefits%20from%20ICT?responseToken=cc01b9c513992788ad7ef99ba9f2eef8#_ftn3|**[3]]]

A 'Center for Commercial and Agricultural Information' (PICA) for the collection and the publication of price lists via the internet has been launched in Togo to enable farmers and traders to interact over prices and availability of products. of the products by ICT

The center is equipped with computer and Internet facilities with a web page [http://www.tradenet.biz] with a strong integration of data and mobile technology.

The center will allow producers and tradesmen to consult in real time over price lists that are in conformity with the ECOWAS region.

Farmers will also consult over business opportunities in the area -the availability of products and stocks - in short farmers and traders will be able to conclude commercial transactions with partners from West Africa and other destinations.

The platform is also equipped with a system that makes it possible to send SMSes to producers, to salesmen and to purchasers.

The center will also equip farmers with packages to receive free information on mobile phones on the prices of 400 agricultural producers of the regional markets in West Africa, that is Benign, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Togo.

This project is supported by the regional network of information systems of market and agricultural trade in West Africa (MISTOWA) and its aims are to increase regional agricultural trade and food security by improving and linking the existing regional efforts to generate, disseminate, and make commercial use of market information.

The center will also help the regional networks of Market Information Systems (MIS) and trade partners to address other constraints, so that strong and dynamic commodity chains emerge that will use the information to enhance production, handling, credit, and trade; and value added services such as post-harvest, processing, packaging, and quality control.

[1] Analysis of the uses of information and communication technology for gender empowerment and sustainable poverty alleviation in Nigeria, Obayelu A. Elijah, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and Ogunlade, I., University of Ilorin, Nigeria, International Journal of Education and Development using ICT > Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006)
**[2**] Integrating Mobile Learning into Nomadic Education Programmes in Nigeria: Issues and perspectives, R. A. Aderinoye, K. O. Ojokheta, & A. A. Olojede, University of Ibadan, Nigeria ,The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 8, No 2 (2007), ISSN: 1492-3831, June – 2007
E-agriculture for Togolese farmers**, Noel Kokou Tadegnon, Highway Africa News Agency, September 3, 2007 [http://hana.ru.ac.za.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg [http://hana.ru.ac.za.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg]. ICT Updates From Around the Continent [analysis] 11 September 2007, 01:08, All Africa, Factiva