Business Hilights
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Power, manpower frustrating USPF ICT knowledge centres in rural schools

Contrary to insinuations that many schools and communities provided with ICT knowledge centres by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), through its Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), have not put them to adequate use, Business Hilights investigations have revealed that lack of power, insecurity and manpower are the reasons behind the nonuse.

USPF is a special purpose vehicle designed to drive ICT education in schools especially in rural areas though the establishment of knowledge centres with funds to build, equip and train teachers on use and teaching methodologies in a way and manner ICT education and broadband penetration will move with aggregate speed.

However, investigations in several rural areas show that these multimillion naira centres usually pack up few months after commissioning due to adequate supervision and monitoring by USPF on one hand and issues bordering on insecurity, manpower and lack of teachers with requisite teaching knowledge.

Only recently in Calabar, the Cross Rivers capital, Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, noted that “The idea is not to set up the knowledge centres for the communities and schools to own as property but to put them to good use so that people can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills on the use of internet”.

“We spend a lot of money replacing stolen and vandalised equipment in rural communities where we set up resource centres to bring ICT close to everyone but some people have formed the habit of stealing the equipment while schools simply lock up their knowledge centres without putting them to use”. Danbatta stated

Represented by Mr Kelechi Nwankwo, head of training and strategy in NCC said “The resource and knowledge centres are aimed at facilitating the achievement of national policy goals on universal service and access to information and communication technologies in rural, un-served areas and urban centres”.

He spoke at the end of a two-day stakeholders’ workshop on Information and Communications Technology Utilisation and Sustainability, decrying that “Many schools where knowledge centres are set up, lock up the facilities without putting them to use while in some communities thieves and vandals frequently invade ICT the centres and cart away the equipment”.

The workshop is aimed at developing effective agenda for collaboration with stakeholders to achieve the tripods of availability, accessibility and affordability to ICT in order to attain sustainable economic growth and social advancement in the country.

Continuing, NCC boss averred that “The NCC would not be undaunted in pursing the goals of internet accessibility and penetration in the country as that is the only way to combat unemployment, ignorance and also attain the global mission of free information dissemination to everyone”.

“Our agenda is for everyone everywhere to have the opportunity to acquire ICT knowledge that is why we are reaching the rural areas and un-served areas but the action of some people is stalling that effort. However, we will remain undaunted in our effort to increase internet penetration across Nigeria”.