By BiztechAfrica – May 3, 2013, 7:04 a.m.
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The government of Osun State said it did not involve indigenous original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the design and production of its information communication technology (ICT) teaching and learning tool, Opon Imo, in the project because it is not going to profit them.
Opon Imo, a Yoruba word, means ‘tablet of knowledge’. The project will see the distribution of the free tablets to every student preparing for SCSE in the state.
The deputy Governor of the state, who also doubles as the state education commissioner, Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, who spoke at the media presentation of the tablet in Lagos this week, explained that partnering with local manufacturers would not profit them (OEMs) because the knowledge tablet initiative is unique and has not been done anywhere in the world.
She added that it was also designed to give jobs to the youths of the state who had been given ICT training as part of the state government’s initiative to empower youths. The youths have been trained on how to repair computers and other accessories. They will provide the needed support services needed when the initiative goes full blast, she explained.
According to her, the initiative has saved the state the sum of N8.6 billion, adding that the initiative is a sure cure for the ‘disease’ known as students’ failure in both internal and external examinations in the state.
The deputy governor said Opon Imo is a complete learning tool that contains all the 17 subjects taught in schools in the state, lesson notes, 63 e-books and over 40,000 past questions in the Joint Admission Matriculation Board Examination (JAMB), National Examination Council (NECO) and the West African Examination Council (WAEC), all within the last ten years, adding that the tablets also contain mock tests for the students, Yoruba proverbs and English dictionary.
According to her, since an average text book of students of secondary school in the state goes for a minimum of N1000, the state government would have spent the sum of N8.6 billion if it had embarked on the purchase of these text books for the students.
When the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola was inaugurated in the state, the administration met an educational sector that was ‘comatose’ with infrastructure in the schools at various levels of decadence. She said the governor came out with various initiatives on how best to turn the situation around, adding that Opon Imo, which is the governor’s brainchild, is one sure initiative to stop “the rot” in the system.
“Students can test themselves after reading. There are guided tips on how to answer WAEC questions in the integrated test zone. We pride ourselves as the innovators of this unique initiative. It is unique because it has been designed to tackle the lack of text books. We are happy that we are the first government anywhere in the world that will develop a tool that will democratise education. It will make learning and teaching very easy and stop the low enrollment of students in science subjects. It is designed for students in Nigeria and other West African countries that write WAEC,” she said.
The deputy governor disclosed that the government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Chinese firm to build a factory in the state where the tablet would be mass-produced, stressing that it will create job opportunities for the youths of the state. “We have told the Chinese company that if you don’t come and establish a factory here, we will not do business with you,” she said.
Laoye-Tomori said to stave off abuses of the tablets, internet connection is not part of the functionality of the device, adding that games like chess has been created in the tablet so that when a student feels tired or bored after reading, he or she could play educational games.