Computers are used in higher education both as a subject of study and as a tool in the learning process within other disciplines. Thus, many higher institutions have established computer labs or ICT halls and students could take advantage of the facilities for study and research.
There are also instances where labs are not necessary in which case students are required to own laptops to practice and increase understanding. In most cases, graduates from computing and IT courses are prepared to specialize in particular areas that do not only require learning theories but putting knowledge into practice.
Students in the Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State, however said they have difficulty in putting their knowledge into practice because there are no computers with which to apply their skills.
A 400 level student of Computer Science, Colins Ezekwu Josiah, said they don’t have free internet service in the institution except for those doing their research projects.
Josiah said the university gave free 250 megabyte data scratch card to students occasionally and to those on research project. He said the institution had no fast internet connectivity, forcing the students to resort to private internet cafes.
“Another problem we are encountering is lack of computers at the ICT Hall, especially during practical; lecturers use projectors. There is not a single computer at the ICT Lecture Hall.
“Students use their personal laptops and those who don’t have take notes during lectures. The only place you see computers is the E-Library which has not been put into use yet.”
A female student, who gave her name as Talatu, said another challenge facing Computer Science students in the university was erratic supply of electricity in the ICT Hall. She said students charged their laptops in shops that used generators.
“Whenever you go to a major eatery powered by a generator, you will see dozens of students recharging their personal laptops. You buy one plate of food or bottle of Coke and charge your battery while eating your food slowly. That is how we cope with the electricity challenge,” she said.
Another computer science student who spoke on condition of anonymity said students faced numerous challenges including lack of internet service, electric power and computers in the lecture hall.
He said students used their personal laptops and phones for both lectures and practicals, which was why many that didn’t have laptops failed many courses that required practical experience.
He said students recently wrote a letter of complaint to the management over poor electricity supply and a generator was installed at the Computer Science Department that worked only two hours daily.
He, however said that the administration block had constant power supply.
When contacted, the Head, Information and Public Relations Unit, Abubakar Ibrahim, said, “This is a university which is proud of itself for its ability to provide each of its students a computer during practical sessions and research exercises. The computers are of high speed, modern and reliable.”
According to Ibrahim, the university, which runs full-fledged computer science courses, provides access to computer per head during all practical sessions to its students.
He said the university placed high premium on its information technology centre because the university community depended on online information and news.
On the issue of poor internet service faced by students, the spokesman said the challenge was not frequent but happened ‘once in a year’ and that the management was working to address the issue.
He said the university spent huge sums of money on maintenance of its website and running the Computer Science Department.
On the contrary, however, though our reporter was denied access to the computer labs of Kaduna State University (KASU), students interviewed said they have enough PCs in the labs.
A 400 level student of the Department of Computer Science who gave his name as Abdullahi said there were three laboratories in the department and another two for the IT centre.
“There are about 90 desktop computers in one of the labs in the department, about 100 in the second lab and 50 computers in the third laboratory,” he said.
He said students’ computers were connected to the internet.
“We go to the e-library to collect the username and password with which we can get internet access at any time. The only challenge we have is incessant strike actions by the academic union,” he said.
Another student of computer science, Nura, said apart from having enough computers in the labs, students also have a hardware laboratory where they conduct practicals.
Lawal, a 200 level student, said so far, he has been introduced to courses including introduction to computer, hardware, computer architecture and organization, computer programming and data structure among others. He said he was about to learn courses on cyber security.
He said the desktops in the old e-library had internet facility “but the university doesn’t give us username and password to access internet with our personal laptops.”