COMPUTING

An Electronic Education Initiative is launched for Students in Nigeria

National Universities Commission (NUC), is collaborating with the e-DON Initiative to provide a platform for Nigerian students to be able to reach out and be reached within their classrooms by other universities in different parts of the world.

The Electronic Education (e-DON) Initiative Program is a project that is the brainchild of Idonuagbe O. Akogun, a Nigerian citizen based in the United States, who is working closely with the National Universities Commission (NUC).

The initiative was launched in January 2010. The initiator was concerned about Nigeria's battered image after watching the terrorism attack of December 25, 2009, by the 23 year old Nigerian, Abdul-Farouq Mutallab in the United States. With the e-DON, Nigerian students would be exposed to opportunities of interacting with their contemporaries and receive lectures right in their classrooms via electronic means from any part of the world. The arrangement is expected to help close up gaps, open up minds, allowing students to link with other developed world in different fields of study.

The Program Coordinator and CEO was currently appointed the International Consultant to the National University Commission (NUC), where he is collaborating to bring the initiative alive to the Nigerian universities first. Since its inception in January 2010, e-DON has reached out and achieved enormous accomplishments from signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with its pioneer University in the United States Lincoln University in Mid-Missouri as well as similarly partnering with several private institutions and Federal and State agencies in the U.S. The e-DON Program champions the need to have the youth of Western Societies interact academically, socially and culturally with their peers in the developing world. The International Steering committee at Lincoln had initially after adopting to support e-DON had highlighted to take it first to either the nations of South Africa or Ghana (other developing nations) where they felt the program would receive a better and more receptive landing. The Founder immediately fought for the program to come to Nigeria highlighting in life charity should and must begin at home. It is due to his steadfastness he was able to convince the minds of so many that Nigeria (Africa) must be the beginning and from there the program will filter out to other nations using our example our program as its lead definer.

Akogun said; "right here in Nigeria, students will be receiving lectures and be able to interact with peers from outside the world, seated in the classrooms. Their counterparts abroad will also be able to learn from Nigeria".

What about the cost implication such exchange programme? "It is free for students. We are packaging this project in such a way that students don't feel it's for the children of the rich. The cost implication, which is just the tuition, will be very cheap, compared to what school authorities would have paid to employ the services of a professor. It will simply be used to encourage the use of technology which is already available in the country. It is nothing compared to what you pay a professor from the outside country to come and deliver a lecture and then goes back.

The National Universities Commission (NUC), has already given approval for the take off of the programme, beginning with two universities, the Bayero University in Kano and the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The two institutions have indicated their interest and have welcomed the idea which is about internationalising the universities and give the campuses a very international outlook.

Differences in course outline might be a major challenge but the coordinator said the major topics that will be dealt with will be the more general ones like agriculture, healthcare, political sciences, information technology and other major courses.
"There must be something the students can take away. It won't just be for the sake of having to interact with others and receiving lectures through the electronic means. Other highlights of the programmes includes getting students to know that when they are in a classroom, they are ambassadors of this country. Show the world that Nigerians are intelligent and hardworking people. It is not just being able to correspond with the outside world. This programme is timely. Down the line, we cannot afford to take our jobs outside the country. We have to invest in our students here. This programme, the way we want it is that it is going to extend to the polytechnics, the colleges of education, the secondary and even primary schools. As the initiator of the programme, I made sure that the first port of call was Nigeria. Nigeria may be slow in implementing ideas, but i just wanted to prove a point that we can do it. They considered the sustainability, logistics and suggested we go somewhere like South Africa, but I insisted charity must begin at home", Akogun noted.

The NUC said the programme, which is being piloted in two universities is expected to expand rapidly to other institutions of learning. The initiative brought home by the Nigerian in the diaspora said it is an answer to the many calls made to Nigerians resident abroad to have faith in the country by investing in education to build up the knowledge base of Nigeria. The passion with which the initiator is pushing the project, should serve as a yardstick for others to bring back not only financial, but also knowledge needed by the teeming youths to provide the human resources Nigeria is yearning for through the university system.

Source: Leadership

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