Aduwa-Ogiegbaen, S. E., & Iyamu, E. O. S. (2005). Using Information and Communication Technology in Secondary
Schools in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects. Educational Technology & Society, 8 (1), 104-112.
Using Information and Communication Technology in Secondary Schools
in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects
Samuel Ereyi Aduwa-Ogiegbaen and Ede Okhion Sunday Iyamu
Department of Educatinal Psychology & Curriculum studies
Faculty of Education, University of Benin,
Benin City, Nigeria
Though it has been rightly said that what is wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology; there is
no doubt that modern life is dominated by technology. There is universal recognition of the need to use
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education as we enter the era of globalization where
the free flow of information via satellite and the internet hold sway in global information dissemination of
knowledge. Already, Nigeria is on he wrong side of the international digital divide, as it has not made
significant effort to integrate ICT into secondary school curriculum. A great deal of instructional and
administrative work in secondary school in Nigeria is still carried out manually. This paper, therefore,
examines the major obstacles militating against the use of ICT in secondary education in Nigeria. It
identifies he high cost of computer hardware and software; weak infrastructure; lack of human skills and
knowledge in ICT, and lack of relevant software appropriate and culturally suitable to Nigeria as the major
stumbling block o the adoption of ICT in secondary education in Nigeria. Also, secondary schools in
Nigeria are not given adequate funds to provide furniture, relevant textbooks and adequate classroom let
alone being given adequate fund for high-tech equipment. At present the cost of subscribing to the Internet
is too high for many of the impoverished secondary schools in Nigeria. In modern society, Nigeria needs
ICT to aid teaching and learning and educational management. ICT is an instrument for the economic and
technological development in the 21st century; therefore, Nigeria cannot afford to be on the wrong side of
the digital divide.
Information and Communication Technology, Cyber Education, Virtual Learning Environment, Internet
Gateway, Nigeria’s Telecommunication
The role of technology in teaching and learning is rapidly becoming one of the most important and widely
discussed issues in contemporary education policy (Rosen and Well, 1995; and Thierer, 2000). Most experts in
the field of education agreed that, when properly used, information and communication technology hold great
promise to improve teaching and learning in addition to shaping workforce opportunities. Poole (1996) has
indicated that computer illiteracy is now regarded as the new illiteracy. This has actually gingered a new and
strong desire to equip schools with computer facilities and qualified personal necessary to produce
technologically proficient and efficient students in developed countries of the world. There is no doubt that
computer can aid the instructional process and facilitate students’ learning. Many studies have found positive
effect associated with technology aided instruction (Burnett, 1994, and Fitzgerald and Warner, 1996).
In the more advanced industrialized nations, there has been a staggering amount of research and publication
related to ICT use for educational purposes during the past decade. Today, nearly everyone in the industrialized
nations gained access to ICT and the purchase of computers for school use in such nations as the United States
has been increasing in such a pace that is difficult to keep track of how many computer machines are now in
American schools (Harper, 1987). Becker (1986) reported a comprehensive survey of the instructional uses of
computers in United States public and non-public schools. The report suggested that over one million computers
were in American elementary and secondary schools and that more than fifteen million students used them
during 1985. The report also says half-a-million teacher used computers during he same period and that half of
U.S. secondary schools (about 16,500 schools) owned 15 or more computers. Also, over 7500 elementary
schools owned 15 or more computers. It has been almost two decade since the figures quoted above were
released. There is no doubt that those figures would have increased tremendously since then. Bergheim and Chin
(1984) reported that the US government made available $529 million to schools out of which 60 to70 percent
was spent on computer education. However, in the US administration’s fiscal 2001 budget, more than $900
million was earmarked for educational technologies (Hess & Leal, 2001)
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In Britain, the story is the same as the wider availability of computers in schools was made possible through
government funding largely through the Local Education Authorities (LEA). Visscher et al (2003) reported that
following the Education Reform Act in 1988, the central government made available $325 million, over time, to
promote the use of computers in school administration and management. Just as the United States and Britain
have been budgeting huge sum of money for cyber education, so have other developed nations been doing same.
Even many developing nations have embraced ICT. In Africa, concerted efforts have been made by many
governments to initiate Internet connectivity and technology training programs. Such programs link schools
around the world that in order to improve education, enhance cultural understanding and develop skills that
youths need for securing jobs in the 21st century. In Uganda, an interconnectivity programme known as “Uganda
School Net” is dedicated to extending educational technology throughout Uganda (Carlson & Firpo, 2001). In
Senegal, teachers and students are using computers extensively as information tools. These programs in African
countries mentioned are supported by their government through the ministries of Education.
In a rapidly changing world of global market competition, automation, and increasing democratization, basic
education is necessary for an individual to have the capacity and capability to access and apply information.
Such ability and capability must find bearing in information and communication technology in the global village.
The Economic Commission for Africa has indicated that the ability to access and effectively utilize information
is no longer a luxury but a necessity for development. Unfortunately, many developing countries, especially in
Africa, are already on the wrong side of the digital divide in the educational use of ICT.
Why does Nigeria need ICT?
The question of why Nigeria needs information and communication technology may appear too simplistic and
unnecessary. However, the political conditions in Nigeria for the past thirty years leave no room for continuity.
Over the years, political power in Nigeria has been used to entrench mediocrity, corruption in high places,
misplace priority, and consumer culture. The direct effect of these is a battered economy and an educational
system that is decaying by the day. In 1988, in an attempt to keep pace with development in computer education,
Nigeria enacted a Policy on Computer Education. According to Okebukola (1997).
The plan was to establish pilot schools and thereafter diffuse the innovation, first to all secondary
schools and then to the Primary schools. Unfortunately, beyond the distribution and installation of
computers in the Federal Government Colleges, the project did not really take off the ground
Okebukola (1997) concluded that computer is not part of classroom technology in over 90% of public schools in
Nigeria. Thus the chalkboard and textbooks continue to dominate classroom activities in most secondary schools
in Nigeria. If a country such as Uganda which has less than a-fifth of Nigeria’s resources, is now using
information and communication technology to help secondary schools students to become better information
users, why is Nigeria lagging behind? The answer is simply mismanagement of the huge resources of the country
and inability of political leaders to prioritize Nigeria’s developmental needs. There is no doubt that in the current
harsh economic competition, the private sector in Nigeria has embraced ICT to stay afloat. The banking sector,
insurance, manufacturing industries and multinational companies in the oil sector have embraced multimedia
technology to bring innovative solutions to their current challenges.
If Nigerian wants to be a major player in the global market place of ideas and prepare her citizens for the new
environment of today and the future, the country should embrace ICT for the following reasons: ICT as aids to
teaching and leaning; ICT as a tool for management; ICT as instrument for economic development; ICT as
instrument of high technological development, and ICT as a course of study.
ICT as aids to teaching and learning
The importance of ICT is quite evidence from the educational perspective. Though the chalkboard, textbooks,
radio/television and film have been used for educational purpose over the years, none has quite impacted on the
educational process like the computer. While television and film impact only on the audiovisual faculties of
users, the computer is capable of activating the senses of sight, hearing and touch of the users. ICT has the
capacity to provide higher interactive potential for users to develop their individual, intellectual and creative
ability. The main purpose of ICT “consists just in the development of human mental resources, which allow
people to both successfully apply the existing knowledge and produce new knowledge” (Shavinina, 2001,P.70).
The collective and rigid nature of learning and the passive nature of the learning associated with the use of radio,
television and film do not contribute any innovative changes to traditional methods in education system.
Information and communication technologies are being used in the developed world for instructional functions.
Today, computers perform a host of functions in teaching and learning as many nations are adding computer
literacy, reading and writing literacy as skills students will need for succeeding in a technologically developed
world (Thomas, 1987). At the instructional level, computers are used by pupils to learn reading, mathematics,
social studies, art, music, simulation and health practices.
In educational multimedia application Shavinina (1997) asserted that today’s learning contents are domain-
specific products and that they dominate the world market. According to Shavinina (1997), domain-specific
educational multimedia is directed to knowledge acquisition skills development in the language arts, history,
physics, literature, biology and so on.
There is no doubt that ICT provides productive teaching and learning in order to increase people’s creative and
intellectual resources especially in today’s information society. Through the simultaneous use of audio, text,
multicolor images, graphics, motion, ICT gives ample and exceptional opportunities to the students to develop
capacities for high quality learning and to increase their ability to innovate.
Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind in using multimedia to raise the intellectual and creative resources of her
citizens. This is particularly important for children whose adulthood will blossom in a cyber environment
entirely different from that of the present (Shavinina, 1997). Nigerian children need to be taught by radically new
educational programme and variety of educational contents with multimedia playing key role.
ICT as tool for educational management
It is not uncommon to find that many establishments in Nigeria, including educational institutions, still keep
records in files and tucked them away in filling cabinets where they accumulate dust. Many of these files are
often eaten up by rodents and cockroaches thus rendering them irretrievable. A great deal of routine
administrative work in government establishment is still done manually with the state and the Federal
government showing little or no interest in embracing ICT. The official administrative drudgery in government
offices and education institutions can be better managed through ICT. Educational administrative functions
include a wide variety of activities such as educational governance, supervision, support services, infrastructure,
finance, budgeting, accounting, personnel selection and training system monitoring and evaluation, facilities
procurement and management, equipment maintenance, research, and so on (Thomas, 1987).
In most Nigeria schools, officials still go through the laborious exercise of manually registering students,
maintaining records of pupil, performance, keeping inventory list of supplies, doing cost accounting, paying
bills, printing reports and drawing architectural designs. The huge man-hour spend on these exercises can be
drastically reduced with ICT to enhance overall management procedure. Thomas (1987), said that “Computers
bring great speed and accuracy to each of these tasks, along with the convenience of storing large quantities of
information on ‘small disks or tapes’ (P.5).
The prevailing condition in school management in Nigeria is disheartening and discouraging. The country seems
to be living in prehistoric times in the educational management while even developing countries in Africa such
as South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are far ahead of Nigeria in ICT applications. Despite its huge
material resources and population endowment, Nigeria cannot be counted among progressive nations using ICT
in educational management, as technology has become a critical tool for achieving success in education.
ICT as instrument of economic development
The present government in Nigeria is pursuing the deregulation of the economy with a passion that has never
been seen in the country. It is striving for a private sector driven economy hence it is selling its shares in many
companies so that they can fully be managed by the private sector. Most of these companies in which
government hold majority shares have been mismanaged over the years that they have become a huge burden
and a financial drain-pipe to government, hence deregulation in the country today.
The importance of ICT in Nigeria strongly manifests itself from an economic standpoint. Today, as a result of
globalization, industrial competition is increasingly harsh and companies must not only come up with innovative
products and services to the global market but must do so with unprecedented speed. For the companies to
survive, they need intellectual and creative employees who’s “novel ideas are to a certain extend a guarantee of
companies’ existence” (Shavinina 2001, P.65). Contemporary society strongly needs highly able minds that
could productively solve many economic problems of today. Such highly able minds are nurtured by a country’s
educational institutions. Nigeria lags considerably behind others in the development of small and medium scale
enterprises, which are the mainstay of modern economy and society. Modern society desperately needs highly
able citizens who can bring innovative solutions to its current challenges and at the same time produce new ideas
for ongoing socio-economic and political advancement (Shavinina, 1997). Nigeria can only be part of such
modern society if ICT facilities are deployed to all sectors of the economy. Because, the country is already on
the wrong side of the digital divide, it must lay the proper foundation for ICT use in the education sector.
ICT as tool for higher technological development
In today’s world, not only are we surrounded by technology, but our primary means of reaching others in far and
near places are mediated by technology. According to Elluh (1989), “technology is progressively effacing the
two previous environments: nature and society” (p.134). The environment Elluh talked about is that which
enables us to live, sets us in danger and it is immediate to us and mediates all else. He asserted that modern man
cannot live without our gadgets. This is what makes human subservient to technology rather that technology
being subservient to humanity.
There is no doubt that one of today’s realities is an extremely fast development of high-technology. This has
resulted in a huge change of the individual’s life in business and private settings. There is strong need to know
and use modern technology in our social life, the economy, the business and education. New and sophisticated
breakthroughs in high technology encourage companies to introduce technological innovations rapidly into their
business practices. The United States Space Programme has benefited immensely from rapid development in
high-tech and today’s information and communication technology. In many parts of the developed world,
cellular, satellite, and wireless technologies combined with innovative business practices are beginning to make
up for the shortcomings of the traditional wire line technologies. Nigeria was introduced to cellular technologies
a little over two years ago and this has revolutionized the communication industry in the country, though
majorities of Nigerians are yet to benefit from the services due to high cost.
If Nigeria must be part of developed world in the near future, it must embrace technology and discard some of
the old habits and perspectives and retool completely. There is need for the country to re-strategize and expand
its vision so as to cope with the challenges of a technological society.
ICT as a course of study
The most challenging aspect of the post-industrial era is how to meet the demand of the information society that
modern man is trying to build. The role of education in developing modern society cannot be overemphasized. In
fact, society and education are highly interdependent. As society changes, the educational system has to change
accordingly (Westera and Sloep, 2001). Today employers of labour are in search of graduates with requisite
knowledge, skill and training that would help to solve problems that do not yet exist today. In recent years
thousands of university graduates found it difficult to secure good paying jobs. This has been due to the fact that
there are no jobs out there as many government establishments and private companies are even retrenching
workers as a result of hard times being experienced by the economy.
Though the Nigerian government has opened its doors to foreign investors and many of them are coming in,
Nigerian graduates are not properly trained for the new positions that are opening up in the new companies being
established. There is a high demand for highly skilled and technologically trained workers. Unfortunately, most
Nigerian graduates acquired overdose of theoretical knowledge, which does not match well with the demands of
workplace practice. Modern companies need employees that are proactive, enterprising, responsible and self-
reliant professional. According to Walton (1995), modern employees represent the business’ human capital.
Nigeria needs to replace the traditional pedagogical practices that still underpin its educational system. In a
report of the World Bank sponsored research study on the state of the Nigerian graduate, Dabalen and Oni
(2001) asserted that Nigerian University graduates of the past decade are poorly trained and unproductive on the
job. The report indicted Nigerian University graduates as deficient in mastery of the English language and
requisite technical skills. Such development calls for a rethinking of the objectives education should pursue.
In order to revolutionize Nigeria educational system, the country needs ICT not only as tools for communication
but also as a field of study. Modern companies, especially those operated by the new foreign investors need
skilled workers with basic knowledge in algorithm, flow chart design, complex programming, and web design.
Nigeria also needs computer technicians and engineers. These new fields of study could be introduced as areas
of study in Nigeria universities and polytechnics. Though, few Nigeria universities are already having computer
study as part of their academic programs, most of them are still theoretical in nature to impact meaningfully on
Nigeria needs to establish a virtual learning company along the model developed and implemented at the Open
University of the Netherlands. The Netherlands virtual Company was established to answer to future challenges
of modern society. According to Westera and Sloep, (2002), the Netherlands Virtual Company;
“Is a distributed, virtual learning environment that embodies the functional structures of veracious
companies; it offers students a rich and meaningful context that resembles the context of
professional working in many respects; it aims to bridge the gap between education and
professional working,; between theory and practice between knowledge and skills.” (P.116).
The virtual Learning Company is regarded as a state of the art cyber education, which strives to bring together
the context of education and workplace. Nigeria has just launched its own version of Open University in Abuja
after so many years of planning. The Nigeria Open University has a lot to learn from the Netherlands example by
offering a concrete and meaningful environment that closely resembles the student’s future workplaces. The
Nigeria University Commission recently established a virtual learning website but its impact is yet to be seen
and it is too early to be assessed.
Obstacles to the use of ICT in secondary schools in Nigeria
There are several impediments to the successful use of information and communication technology in secondary
schools in Nigeria. These are: cost, weak infrastructure, lack of skills, lack of relevant software and limited
access to the Internet.
The price of computer hardware and software continues to drop in most developed countries, but in developing
countries, such as Nigeria, the cost of computers is several times more expensive. While a personal computer
may cost less than a month’s wages in the United State, the average Nigeria worker may require more than two
years’ income to buy one.
Nigeria has over 6,000 public secondary schools. Majority are short of books, paper and pencils. Many of the
schools lack adequate infrastructure such as classrooms and only few are equipped with television or radio.
Apart from the basic computers themselves, other costs associated with peripherals such as printers, monitors,
paper, modem, extra disk drives are beyond the reach of most secondary schools in Nigeria. The schools can not
also afford the exorbitant Internet connection fees.
In Nigeria, a formidable obstacle to the use of information and communication technology is infrastructure
deficiencies. Computer equipment was made to function with other infrastructure such as electricity under
“controlled conditions”. For the past fifteen years Nigeria has been having difficulty providing stable and
reliable electricity supply to every nook and cranny of the country without success. Currently, there is no part of
the country, which can boast of electricity supply for 24 hours a day except probably areas where government
officials live. There have been cases whereby expensive household appliances such as refrigerators, deep
freezers and cookers have been damaged by upsurge in electricity supply after a period of power outage.
Electronics equipment such as radio, television, video recorder and even computers has been damaged due to
irregular power supply. When electricity supply is not stable and constant, it is difficult to keep high-tech
equipment such as computers functioning, especially under extreme weather conditions as obtained in Nigeria.
The high levels of dust during the dry season in Nigeria also make electronic equipment to have short live span.