Dutse — Dr. Aliyu Ibrahim Kiri is the Rector of Informatics Institute, Jigawa State. In this interview, he said the institute trains world class students and that it has impacted positively on IT development in the state and beyond. Excerpts:
What is the mandate of the Informatics Institute Kazaure?
Actually the institution was set up with the mandate of providing IT education to indigenes of Jigawa State. Initially it was conceived as an institution that could help in modernising the civil service of the state by training the civil servants and raising the IT education or IT level of the civil servants and government in general. The second mandate was that it was meant to train youth of Jigawa State in particular and the nation in general in the field of IT. So the focus was to see how we can empower the youth so that they can become professionals in IT.
The state also wanted the graduates to be recognised as international professionals in IT. In view of that the state government got a franchise from the Informatics Institute Singapore. The Jigawa Informatics Institute was set up as a centre here in Kazaure and later some other centres were opened in the four or five emirates in the state. Certificate and other IT training were going on in those centres before they were collapsed into one centre which is the main centre here in Kazaure.
In 2004, the school started offering International Diploma in computing and then later the International Advance Diploma in Computing was added. The school has been offering these courses and it is well known for its IT training. In 2006 another certificate programme was franchised from P-TECH INC of USA. It has to do with the training of communication professionals in cable technology which involves fibre optics. The training is given here and the certificate is given by P-TECH INC of USA.
We also have an International Diploma and International Advanced Diploma in computing certificate which are given by Informatics Institute of Singapore, now called Informatics Academy International.
So, basically this has been the mandate of the institute and these are the main programmes run by the institute until 2010 when it obtained approval to start National Diploma in IT. You will see many products of this institution in various places. We admit students from all states of the federation not just Jigawa. Our training is of international standard. We train international standard diploma programmes and advanced diploma. When our students finish their advanced diploma here they can go to other university of the world for their degree for three or sometimes four years. And through this P-TECH we produce potential candidates for P-TECH exams and other communication companies. We train world class IT experts and we give world class training aspect of cabling.
How many students have you trained so far?
We train about 2000 per year for quite some time now or thereabouts. On the average we train about 1500 per year in the aspect of computing and in the aspect of cabling technology we train about 60 per year.
What about the level of equipment you have here as an institute?
We have laboratories that are equipped with hard and software that are appropriate for international training and for the P-TECH training. The same type of laboratory they use in the US is what we use here in this institute. The students are given hands on training with modern facilities and these facilities are updated every now and then. Just few weeks ago we received a consignment from the US for the training of student. So we have up-to-date facilities for the training of the students.
Do you still send students to Singapore?
No, it has been stopped for some time now.
What is the future plan of the institute?
Like I told you, apart from the foundation programme, we are running three to four international programmes - International Diploma in Information Technology and Communication, International Advance Diploma in Network and Cyber Security among others. We are just planning now to run three national innovative diploma programmes. A National Diploma in Telecommunication Technology, National Diploma in Computer Engineering and National Diploma in Network and System Security. In fact we just finished submitting our final document to the NBTE for their approval. We have been working with NBTE, just a small aspect of the requirement delayed us. Then in the next few months we intend to partner with other institutions abroad in Sri-Lanka.
Are you in partnership with GLO, MTN or Etisalat as the case may be?
Not yet. We were trying to partner with MTN. Actually we have not concluded the deal yet.
What about other institutions like Bayero University Kano Engineering Department?
We are in talk with Bayero University. Actually, we want to make our products complete their degrees in the university but the deal is still in process.
What challenges do you have in the institute which you would like either the private sector or state government, or even the federal government to intervene in?
You know, our institution is new and the government of Jigawa State has been doing quite a lot as the sole financial sponsor of the institute. Because of the nature of the institution we are not really enjoying funding from TETFund. So funding is our major challenge because every time we rely so heavily on the state government as the proprietor of the institute and you know it's not easy for state government to shoulder everything as it has other institutions to cater for.
Having started not quite long ago when the administration of Governor Sule Lamido came in 2007, the school was not a tertiary institution but in 2008 the administration started to put it in proper context of Nigerian tertiary institutions and this has a lot of challenges. You know it's a capital intensive to build the new structures, to purchase new equipment, to recruit staff; these are quite challenging issues but we have managed to be where we are today. The only thing is continuing along that line; you know we still have more to do; we may still need more infrastructural facilities.
What impact has the Informatics Institute made in Jigawa?
When you are talking about impact it is not just in Jigawa but the whole nation has benefitted from our services. We are just trying to see how we can build our database of the products of this institute that are placed in various places all over the country. We have been training students from all over the country and sometimes even from abroad. In Jigawa State civil service for example, it is IT driven and civil servants have embraced IT in almost every aspect of the civil service in the state. So what we do is provide the IT driven human resource for the state and beyond. When you go to all the strata of Jigawa economy you will find graduate of informatics either training people or using his expertise to better the place.