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Nigerian curriculum needs upgrade to drive tech adoption

Nigerian curriculum needs upgrade to drive tech adoption

Some stakeholders have expressed concerns that the academic curricula in Nigerian educational institutions are not ideal in bringing learners to par with their counterparts globally.

Unwana Samuel, a lecturer at the University of Lagos, believes that AI and digital education have come to stay, and Nigeria’s current education curriculum does not have what it takes to drive its adoption.

To address this, he said: “The government should review the curriculum; other countries have modified theirs to accommodate AI because it is a new reality and a very big challenge to the sector these days.”

Chuks Ugwuh, a tech expert with Protech-Advance Solutions, a software company in Nigeria, does not believe AI is captured in the current curriculum.

Read also: Nigerians urge inclusion of FGM in school curriculum

He said that teaching AI and robotics in Nigeria is crucial for preparing students for the future job market and equipping them with the necessary skills for technological advancement.

However, Ugwuh pointed out that there are several factors to consider regarding the adequacy of the current curriculum and potential improvements such as curriculum evaluation, integration of AI and robotics, teacher training, and access to resources.

Others are partnerships with industry, promotion of creativity and innovation, inclusion and diversity, and continuous evaluation and improvement.

Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Lagos Business School, while speaking about Nigeria’s readiness for AI education, said two parallel systems are going on in the country regarding artificial intelligence.

She said: “The funding problem is crippling the public schools, and the private schools who understand the importance of this have long been using all kinds of gadgets such as digital boards to educate their students.

“The public schools don’t even have the funding to do even basic learning. You don’t even do basic reading and writing properly, talk less of bringing in AI and robotics.”

Some experts argue that Nigeria is behind countries such as Hong Kong, Qatar, which through their educational curricula have ensured the production of innovative and highly creative students.

For instance, according to The Star, in June 2023, the Education Bureau in Hong Kong Hong Kong rolled out the first curriculum in the city on artificial intelligence for junior secondary students.

It said: “The curriculum, distributed to over 450 public secondary schools, encourages teachers to incorporate 10 to 14 hours of AI education into the information and communication technology subject for students in form one to three, starting from September 2023.

“The curriculum covers ChatGPT, fundamental AI concepts, computer vision, computer speech and language, robotic reasoning, AI ethics, and the social impact of AI.

“Whereas in Nigeria, at the secondary level, the current computer science curriculum is replete with what can still be termed redundant. Given that the curriculum has been in use for many years with only minor reviews, and there is a tendency that subjects like robotics and AI may take longer to be incorporated.”

According to Rise Networks, a data science, analytics and artificial intelligence-powered learning company in Lagos, “With plans to create tech-savvy Nigerian youths who in the nearest future would communicate less with humans and more with computers, automated technology is essential to their curriculum.”

Read also: Nigeria curriculum must meet industry demand to tackle workplace skill- mismatch Experts

The adoption of AI tools in Nigerian education has the potential to bring about several benefits, such as offering learners personalised learning experiences, helping students with their studies, and explaining complex questions among others.

This has the potential to bridge the educational divide and improve learning outcomes for students across the country.

Stakeholders believe that improving AI and robotics education in Nigerian schools requires a comprehensive approach that involves curriculum evaluation, teacher training, resource provision, industry collaboration, promotion of creativity, and continuous evaluation and improvement.

“By addressing these aspects, Nigeria can better prepare its students for the challenges and opportunities of the future digital economy,” they say.