Expert Tasks Mathematics Students On Computer Literacy
An Information Communication Technology expert, Mr. Olatunji Agbaje, has urged students of Mathematics at Covenant University to strive to acquire ICT skills to complement their certificate to enable them compete favourably in the job market or as an entrepreneur.
Agbaje, the President and Chief Executive Officer of TSI Global Technologies, gave this admonition at the third Town and Gown Seminar of the Department of Mathematics where he was the Guest Speaker.
Narrating his foray into ICT, the Computer Science graduate, who spoke on the topic ‘Relevance of Mathematics in ICT’ at the seminar, said though his initial encounter with Mathematics was unpleasant, he later became proficient in it and this equipped him in his eventual involvement with computer science.
“I attended Ansar-Ud-Deen Secondary School, Isolo,” he revealed. “And when I sat for Mathematics in those days, I used to be afraid. I Form Two we did the second term examinations and I scored 19 per cent in Mathematics, the highest was 66 per cent.
“When I added the figures I realized it’s supposed to be 20 per cent. So, I went to the teacher to register a protest but he sent me away, that I should be ashamed.
“I saw it as a challenge and subsequently, I gave myself an assignment; anytime we are taught a topic in Mathematics I made sure I answer all questions about the topic in my text book, even if they are fifty.”
That attitude to Mathematics, he said, made him to become the best student in the subject and actually left secondary school with a distinction in Mathematics.
The foundation he had in Mathematics would later on aid his success in ICT. “I realized most things needed to use computer for has to do with numbers. If you’re not used to Mathematics, you’d find it difficult to manipulate the computer,” said Agbaje.
Narrating the relationship between ICT and Mathematics, the former Executive Director of INLAKS Computers, who has an outstanding credential and industrial experience spanning more than 24 years, said they are two sides of the same coin using illustrations bordering on Random Number Generation, Statistics and Graphs, Trends and Analysis, Precision and Large Data.
“Your Mathematics is a foundation for you to launch yourself into any industry,” he told the students. “It doesn’t say you must be a core Mathematician.
“For instance, I’m not looking for somebody to give me N1 million to start a business, but one million people to give me N20 each for a certain product, which will give me more money. When you have the Mathematics platform it enables you to launch into several areas.”
Also, he cited the example of dairy product manufacturer, Cowbell, which had to use its marketing ingenuity to compete with FrieslandCampina WAMCO, producers of Peak Milk, in the Nigerian market.
“Peak Milk was the market leader in liquid and powdered milk and it was very difficult for other manufacturers of milk to have a sizeable share of the market. But Cowbell came out with a novel idea. Instead of doing the same thing with Peak Milk and selling at high price, they decided to start packaging powdered milk in sachets and sell at N10.
“Imagine 20 million people, each of them buying N10 Cowbell milk every day, that’s good money. Mathematicians coming into ICT have a plus-minus mindset. They are able to break everything down to what it should be,” Agbaje explained.
While urging the students to train themselves in computer language programming, the ICT expert said there is a relationship between the human mind and modern computer and Mathematics which is often misunderstood.
“Over centuries, humankind has used the developing concept of the computer as a metaphor for the mind, and the growing knowledge of the human mind as a metaphor for the computer, and it is now unclear which was the chicken or the egg,” he said.
He pointed out that acquiring Mathematics and ICT skills means people can now do more computation, more analysis, more statistics and do Mathematics practically with ICT, adding that “If you have a Mathematical mind and you don’t have the ICT mind, you are just the regular clerk”.
People in this part of the world, Agbaje stated, have the challenge of always wondering about where to get a job, but he expressed delight at knowing that Covenant University students are being prepared to be self-employed.
Head of the Department of Mathematics at CU, Dr. Alfred Owoloko, who poured encomiums on Mr. Agbaje for his “inspiring speech”, said the department has been urging students to upgrade themselves.
According to him, many people go about with PhD, MSc or Bsc Degrees without any skill. “We have been urging students to learn Spreadsheet and Programming. Imagine a Mathematics graduate without any skill. Additional skill will enable get jobs,” he said.
Commenting on Agbaje’s projection that five billion mobile phones will be in circulation worldwide by the year 2017, Owoloko urged the students to take advantage of the opportunity.
“If you can do an App (Application) that you’ll charge N10 for, with at least 10 million people buying into that App, it would be a huge success,” he said.