6? With Patrick Thorpe, Director at the HeadStartIT limited

Patrick Thorpe

 You have an e Learning programme that is in consonance with the DIGI qualification UK, what is this all about and won’t it clash with our Nigerian syllabus?


Digi qualifications are a series of courses in computing for school age – children from the age of 5 to 16. It was developed by NCC Education in the UK and is mapped to the UK curriculum in computing. It introduces students to key concepts of digital citizenship. Prepares candidates to be part of their country’s next generation of digital innovators It consists of fresh and innovative syllabus for teachers enabling them deliver with confidence the new programming elements of the English National Curriculum Quality assured by the UK body and sits well within NCC Education’s suite of IT qualifications which are recognized and valued by employers and it is regulated by Ofqual (Office of qualifications and examinations, England and Wales see www.ofqual.gov.uk)


As a stakeholder in eLearning space, don’t you feel that there is a need to have a national syllabus in computing in Nigeria?


There is a Nigerian national syllabus in ICT (not computing). However, it is not regularly updated, does not address the skills required for tomorrow’s digital world, and is only available at the primary and junior secondary level. However, it is possible to deploy DIGI across several schools at the same time once the infrastructure is available. DIGI is ready-made, and is up-to-date too.


DIGI Qualification recognised by NCC (National Computing Centre, UK) how acceptable is their programmes in Nigeria?


Acceptability is good because for those who are discerning of what a good curriculum is, and are looking for a syllabus that has an international outlook, they can easily see that DIGI is outstanding in terms of content etc. It assures everyone that kids can easily learn and study DIGI. Kids can be smart and DIGI allows students join according to their age.


Do we have the infrastructure and human capacity to run these programmes?

Infrastructure, yes; however, in terms of human capacity – well, anyone with a degree in computing and with a little teaching experience, then that person can teach DIGI. However, for obvious reasons, he/she must undergo a mandatory training facilitated by NCC Education.


With dwindling oil revenues, don’t you feel that this project will be a drain in resources? We are thinking Buy Nigeria?

There is no Nigerian computing. Computing is the same worldwide. Drain on our resources? It cannot be. The outsourcing industry in India alone is worth tens of millions of dollars. Imagine the amount of money we can make if only we knew how to write programs for a traffic robot—which is operational in Congo DRC.


Don’t you think broadband will be an issue here? And how can Nigerian attain full potentials in IT skills?

Continuous investment to deliver broadband as well as resolution of the “last mile” challenges. Intelligent hubs—as you elegantly put it—are driven by people with requisite skills. These skills can be achieved with a solid foundation laid by DIGI. Tomorrow belongs to solution providers and solution providers depend of programmers to design and bring those innovative programs to life


Fostering a national commitment to ICT

How do we build an IT led economy? First, we get a government that is committed in totality to ICT. Outside of this, we will remain at talk-point even while the rest of Africa moves on digitally. Government can only act decisively out of conviction that an initiative has a potential to impact across sectors and recreate a brand New Nigeria. For now, government’s approach to ICT is pedestrian. Those who run government are long on policy statements but short on tangible activities. Fancy this statement: “There is a Nigerian national syllabus in ICT (not computing). However, it is not regularly updated, does not address the skills required for tomorrow’s digital world, and is only available at the primary and junior secondary level.” Are we ready to build people into valuable digital human resources?  Our educational roadmap appears still unready for the new age economy. The army of daring private sector tech-prenuers having a go at the ICT sector do not get the necessary support. Even when government commits to ICT projects, the results are chaotic as they are implemented with unclear objectives. But what can we do? We must refocus our commitment to ICT – and from ground zero. Fancy kitting up tomorrow’s leaders with a computing syllabus that prepare them for a rapidly changing global ICT ecosystem. And fancy having a president that believes we can replicate the success of India in ICT in multiple folds. Government must invest massively in broadband, human capital and the legal frameworks to attract off and in-shore investors. Until then, we can only watch and wait or maybe, wait and watch.


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