- Background of Study
It is arguably a fact that the provision of basic education for all citizens remains a sacred responsibility of governments the world over. Irrespective of where the argument tilts to, responsible governments around the world have continued to invest huge resources in the educational sector in order to develop their countries. However, for some countries in the world, the provision of basic education for all citizens must remain one issue that must be treated with all the levity it does not deserve. This development is pronounced in the third world countries where education is not seen as a serious business, despite the fact that it remains a key factor in measuring the development index of any nation.
In Africa for instance, it is estimated that about 67.16 million school age children are not in school because of their inability to access it. In Nigeria, of the 30 million school-aged children, 10 million are currently not enrolled in school; of those currently in primary school, less than one third will enrol in junior secondary, with even fewer reaching senior secondary school (Solomon and Sankey, 2010, p.9). Unfortunately, Nigeria is one of the most developed countries in the African continent with revenues from crude oil production accounting for over 80% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of government revenues. Despite all this, poverty is widespread in Nigeria just as it ranks 157 out of 177 on the United Nations human development index of social indicators. GDP per capital is estimated at $1128 whereas 70.8% of the population live below income poverty line of $1 a day. The adult literacy rate is estimated at 69% (60.1% amongst women), while the vast majority (68%) of children aged 7 -12 enroll in primary schools. The level of basic literacy among children age 4-12 is low with only 28% of children able to read part or all of a sentence and 45% able to add numbers correctly. The case is even terrible in rural areas where majority do not have access to formal education of any kind (Solomon and Sankey, 2010, p. 8).
Education in Nigeria is characterized by poor quality of services due to lack of basic instructional materials and school furniture, outdated curriculum, dilapidated infrastructural facilities, high pupil-teacher and pupil-classroom ratio, high rate of unqualiﬁed teachers, weak and poorly funded school administration, and weak relationship between parents and schools. It must also be noted that the complexities of the federal structure of government in Nigeria with varying roles for stakeholders at the federal, state and local government levels is a challenge to the implementation of any programme (Solomon and Sankey 2010, p, 9). Muhammad (2008, p.10) argued that government mostly builds schools in the urban areas and as such the pupils in the rural areas find it difficult to travel long distance in search of education. Most of the rural population who even have access are hindered by their cultures and occupations (Umeh, 2011, p. 6). These were the many problems of the nomadic population who live in the rural areas and constantly migrate from one place to another in search of greener pasture for their flock.
The nomadic population in Nigeria accounts for 9.3 million people, including 3.1 million school-age children. The majority of them are pastoralists (7 million), while the remainders are migrant farmers and fisher folk mostly found in the Middle Belt and Southern Nigerian regions respectively. The participation of the nomads in existing formal and non-formal educational programmes used to be extremely low, with the population’s literacy rate ranging from 0.2 to 0.3 per cent in 1988 (Abbo, 2011, P. 39). According to Abbo (2011, p.39) the low level of nomadic pupils’ participation in educational programmes is due to constant migration, attitudinal indifference to acquiring education, cultural and religious affiliation, misappropriated educational funds and poor instructional and school materials. These were directly responsible for the nomads not having any form of education before 1989. Nomads who are seen as people without any permanent place of domicile were before the establishment of the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) in 1989, excluded from the normal scheme of things in Nigeria because of their inability to have formal education (Umeh 2011, p.5).
Successive government before 1989 believed that it was difficult and even impossible to educate the nomads because of their nomadic nature of moving from one terrain to another in search of greener pasture for their flocks which are their only source of livelihood. This was directly responsible for the nomads not having access to formal or informal education, despite the fact that these educationally disadvantaged people (nomads) constitute about 6.6 million of the African population and 9.3 million that of Nigeria. The government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, therefore, saw the population of the nomads as too big to be left uneducated. Based on this, the federal government established the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) in 1989 through the instrumentality of Decree 41 now Law 243 of the federation (Muhammad, 2012, p.7). His government mandated NCNE to look for alternative ways of educating these nomads. The Commission was charged with the implementation of National Policy on Education (NPE) developed in 1987, which is aimed at providing and widening access to quality basic education for nomads (i.e. nomadic pastoralists, migrant fisher folks and migrant farmers) boosting literacy and equipping them with skills and competencies to enhance their well-being and participation in national development and integration (Muhammad and Abbo, 2010, P. 2)
To achieve this core mandate of the Commission which is to educate the nomads wherever they are or want to be, the Commission designed and developed five key strategies. These include: the Onsite School, Schools with Alternative intake, Shift System school, Mobile schools and Islamiya (Arabic school system) (Buti, 1998, p.1). The Onsite school system is used for semi sedentary nomadic groups. Such schools are cited along movement at fixed points of reference. Such schools may become schools of alternative intake, where movement pattern of nomads are necessary. The Mobile school (portable classrooms) or (collapsible classrooms) may are used for mobile families depending on their number within a clan cluster. The Islamiya School are incorporated here to teach the nomads both western knowledge and Arabic as they move from place to place (Buti, 1998 p, 2). These strategies having been implemented by NCNE was said to have improved educational enrolment while some argue that the quality and enrolment has not reached its desired aim. Research has shown that the goals of NCNE were not totally achieved because these strategies couldn’t reach all the nomads (Muhammad and Abbo, 2010, P. 2).
Therefore, in order to increase access to education, the Commission came up with Radio Distance Learning Approach in 1996. This strategy was born out of the fact that the Commission realized that nomads are captives to transistor radio and cannot do without it (Tahir & Muhammad, 1998, cited in Tahir and Umar 2000, p.44). The RDL design has two main approaches: Radio Listening Group (RLG) which was adopted for the adult component and its Radio programme is Don Makiyaya a Ruga (for the Nomads in their homestead), while the Interactive Radio Instruction Strategy (IRI) was developed for the children and the radio school programme on air was titled Learning by Radio. Unlike the RLG which hit the airwaves in 1996, IRI was delayed until 2009. NCNE said it was due to logistics problem. Therefore, our concern here is not Radio Listening Group which has been studied by some researchers but IRI (Ekwe, 2012). This study is, therefore, focused on the children component known as Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI). IRI is distinct from most other forms of distance education because its primary goal has been improvement of educational quality. Unlike many distance learning efforts that are designed primarily to address access and issues, IRI began as a tool to use in the classroom to counteract inadequate teacher training, poor achievement among learners, and few resources. While IRI has demonstrated that it can be used to expand access and increase equity in both formal and non-formal educational settings, it retains a development strategy and methodology that require that active learning, attention to pedagogy, and formative evaluation included in the design. The IRI strategy is also different in that it requires that learners stop and react to questions and exercises through verbal response to radio characters, group work, and physical and intellectual activities while the programme is on the air (Bosch, Rhodes and Kariuki 2003, p.2).
For both teachers and students, the lesson becomes an immediate hands-on and experiential guide. Short pauses are provided throughout the lessons, after questions and during exercises, to ensure that students have the time to think and respond adequately. Interaction is also encouraged within the learning environment between teacher and learners as they work together to conduct short experiments, perform activities, and solve problems using local resources and imaginative situations and stories (Bosch, Rhodes and Kariuki 2003, p.2).
This IRI strategy has been actively engaged since the early 1970s, the original model was designed to instruct students on mathematics series in Nicaragua in the early 1970s. It was designed by a team from Stanford University with support of U.S agency for International Development (USAID) (World Bank, 2005, p.3). However, it was adopted by more than 14 countries across the world including Nigeria and South Africa. IRI is a methodology developed to turn a typically one way technology into a tool for active learning inside and outside of the classroom. It has continued to be an attractive educational strategy in developing countries, twenty five years after it was first used. According to Bosch, Rhodes and Kariuki (2003, p.2) IRI may be “described as interactive lessons in which an external teaching element delivered by a distant teacher through the medium of radio or audio cassette.” This strategy is carefully integrated with classroom activity carried out by the classroom teacher and learners within this structure, the distant teacher and learner carries the main weight of the teaching, and directs learning activities within (such as exercise, answer to question, songs, and practical tasks) that take place during carefully timed pauses in the audio script. The classroom teacher’s role is often to facilitate the lesson, give individual assistance to learners, and provide follow-up support. (TechKnowLogia, 2001, para.1).
Children at most times are captivated by sounds and illustrations but their attention spam does not last for long, therefore, to get them interested in education and maintain their interest, the radio medium was adopted. IRI school curriculum is not completely different from that of the formal school system; they have almost the same class content. IRI has been used to improve the teaching of literacy, numeracy, life skills, and other subjects to children in and out of school and in hard to reach and disadvantage areas all over the world. In addition, it has an in-service teacher training tool that exposes teachers to learners-centred teaching and active teaching methods. This is a complex process that consists of several steps. One of these is the development of curriculum content into 30 manageable minutes lessons based on an approved school curriculum, the radio school scopes and sequence have been developed from the nomadic math curriculum for primary one and other relevant curriculum materials. However, not everything in the curriculum will be covered by the radio programmes (TechKnowLogia, 2001, para.1).
The IRI programme content was first developed in 2008 as a pilot programme active in just six states ( Bayelsa, Plateau, Oyo, Anambra, Adamawa and Kaduna States). This pilot phase kick started its programme on air in 2009. Since then, the programme has been running in the states mentioned above. These states were chosen from the six geo-geographical zones (one from each).
In order to carry out its mandate effectively, the Commission had to partner with a number of agencies. The NCNE partners at the national level include: the Universal Basic Education, the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERC). In the areas of curriculum adaptation, the National Teachers Institute (NTI) is used; in the area of teacher training and development, the National Commissions for Mass Literacy Adult and Non-formal Education (NMEC) is used. UNESCO and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are engaged for research and development of community education projects, literacy provision, capacity development and pre-service teacher training for nomadic communities. The World Bank also partners with NCNE on programmes related to radio education capacity building and development (Abbo, 2006, p.34).
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Since 2009 when the first programme of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) programme was broadcast to over 1,219,62 nomadic pupils in Adamawa, Plateau, Oyo, Kaduna, Bayelsa and Anambra States under the phase 1 project of National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE), National Teachers Institute (NTI) and National Commission for Mass Literacy and Adult Education (NCMLAD), observers in the educational sector have been wondering whether this programme has played any significant role in raising their (nomadic pupils) literacy level. While some say it has played a key role in educating these pupils, others say it has not considering the fact that they are migrants and have a culture repugnant to formal education (Umeh 2011, p.34).
Unfortunately, there is little empirical evidence to support or refute whether the strategy is effective in educating nomadic pupils or not. In fact most studies on the effectiveness of this programme in educating these children were carried out by staff of NCNE and NCMLAD in form of progress reports. There are no studies, to the best of the researchers’ knowledge, conducted by independent bodies or individuals in Nigeria on the effectiveness of this strategy. Umeh (2010, p. 32) and Olatunji, (2011, p.11) claimed that one cannot rely on the progress data put up by these commissions on the ground that “they could have been manipulated to attract funds”. Apart from this, those reports cannot be regarded as empirical works since there was no evidence of scientific procedures used to arrive at those results
This study, therefore, is embarked on to investigate the effectiveness of IRI strategy in educating and raising the literacy level of nomadic pupils in Plateau, Adamawa and Kaduna states where the programme is active
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the use of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) strategy in educating nomadic children in Nigeria. Specifically, the study tried:
- To find out whether nomadic IRI pupils participate in the IRI programme.
- To determine the extent to which nomadic pupils participate in the IRI programme.
- To find out the challenges of the IRI programme in educating nomadic children in Nigeria.
- To ascertain whether the knowledge level of the nomadic IRI pupils has increased as a result of their participation in the IRI programme.
1.4 Research Questions
From the objectives of this study, four research questions were raised. They are:
- Do nomadic pupils participate in the IRI programme?
- To what extent do nomadic pupils participate in the IRI programme?
- What are the challenges of IRI programme in educating nomadic children?
- Has the knowledge level of the nomadic pupils increased as a result of their participation in the IRI programme?
1.5 Significance of Study
The findings of this work will have academic, professional and theoretical significance.
This study will no doubt serve as an important literature material to researchers and teachers interested in development communication. This is because its findings revealed the state of the union between communication and human development. This has put them in the know on whether resources budgeted for IRI programmes are actually used for that purpose.
Theoretically, this study serves as a platform to test the claims of the two theories used in this study.