Flaws in the educational system particularly the unavailability of a national research and education network have been blamed for the mass production of graduates who cannot fit into modern day working environment, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has leant.
The spiraling decay in the system is also attributed to lack of political will on the part of the government; brain-drain; and poor facilities.
Luckily, information and communications technologies (ICTs) experts, some of who are products of Nigeria higher institutions are ringing hope.
First, they x-rayed why Nigeria remained at the outskirts of the changing information age and concluded that government and indeed the school system are to blame.
They were worried that Nigerian graduates leave institutions of higher learning without even touching a computer, leaving them without requisite skills to integrate into the ICT driven business environment.
The experts who gathered for the third EduNet Africa Conference held in Lagos said the way forward is the Research and Education Network (REN).
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered that REN is a special Internet service provider that connects research institutions, libraries, universities and other higher institutions of learning.
This special network facilitates the exchange and sharing of information within connected institutions and makes for great research and also enables other services like e-learning, data management, content development, cloud computing, Internet protocol services, and further technology development.
Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One Cable Company, owners of Main One Cable, said the formation of an NREN in the US served as a basis for the creation of the Internet as we know today.
Elsewhere, developing countries have keyed in and the result is the proliferation of RENs like; Kenya Education Network (KENET), TENET –South Africa, EUN –Egypt, RNU – Tunisia, CERIST – Algeria.
All these RENs are backed by political wills of their various home countries.
Others are: UbuntuNet Alliance – an alliance of several southern and eastern African NRENs and EUMEDConnect project, funded by European Union with Links Mediterranean African countries with Europe through GEANT.
Opeke said with approximately 144 governments’ controlled tertiary institutions in Nigeria, none is ranked among the best in the world.
“Universities around the world are ranked by their research output and publications in world renowned journals and books. In the 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s, Nigerian universities were routinely ranked as some of the best in the world. In 2012, of the top 100 universities in Africa, only three Nigerian institutions listed (all below the top 10)” she said.
Nodding in agreement, Biodun Omoniyi, managing director/ CEO, VDT Communications Limited, said broadband Internet is an extremely powerful and fast communications tool for both consumers and businesses, as well as a source of educational and research material.
To ensure that Nigerian graduates are empowered with requisite skills to contribute to nation building, the experts said government must recognize the importance of broadband in the economy and to the everyday life of citizens.
Tosin Amusa, Datacenter/Virtualization and Cloud Solution Architect at Cisco, proposed the use of Cisco CloudVerse for education which according to him will provide the essential architectures, solutions and integrated systems for customers building clouds: public, private and hybrid.
“These include our highly differentiated products such as our unified computing system, our switching and routing products such as Nexus and CRS/ASR/ISR, our cloud enabling services (WaaS, Ace) which radically simplify the building of the cloud infrastructure,” Amusa said.
Pointing at a success model, Omoniyi of VDT said that his company’s partnership with the Lagos State University (LASU) has resulted in a multi-campus university with three major campuses in Ojo Main campus, Epe campus and Surulere campus.
Opeke said various options are under development to form the nucleus of the Nigerian NREN including the government, international assistance and private sector.
She however said that efforts are too slow and there are no compelling incentives for all institutions to join while recognition on a global scale and interconnection with other NRENs is weak or lacking.
She described Some private initiatives Main One is involved with to include wide networks at American University, Yola and Covenant University, Google University Access Programme, University of Nigeria Nsukka, and University of Benin, Opeke said her company has the capacity and reliability.
Muhammed Rudman, CEO of Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) said that all these initiatives can be brought under a single cluster.
Having done the needful, they experts said that the government must now lend its political weight on the educational system to halt the spiraling decay.