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COVID-19: UK to support basic digital literacy in northern Nigeria

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The UK government says it will be supporting basic digital literacy in northern Nigeria as part of its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy vision 2020-2030  to transform the country.

Ben Llewellyn-Jones, an official of the Deputy High Commission in Lagos, made this known in a statement on Thursday.

He said that the vision would transform the country into a leading digital economy providing a better quality of life for all Nigerians in 10 years.

According to him, the UK Government, through its Prosperity Fund Digital Access Programme, had signed a resilience training agreement with Tech4Dev to carry out Basic Digital Literacy for Rural Clusters in Northern Nigeria to Enhance Pandemic Resilience.

He said the agreement was signed on Monday by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Technology for Social Change and Development Initiative (Tech4Dev), an NGO.

He said that the digital literacy programme would be implemented across 10 rural clusters in 10 states across northern Nigeria.

Llewellyn-Jones said that the programme would demonstrate a scalable, sustainable model for digital skills development in underserved communities in the country.

“The programme runs from October 2020 to February 2021, during which 1,000 beneficiaries with little or no prior digital knowledge will undergo a rigorous 12 weeks training required to navigate today’s digital world.

“The programme is aimed at sparking their interest in gaining advanced digital skills or even pursuing a career in technology.

“The curriculum would include computing device and internet usage, digital information handling, online communication, online safety, virtual collaboration and exchanges,’’ he said.

Speaking on the project, Llewellyn-Jones said: “Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan as well as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Strategy have identified the development of digital skills as key to unlocking economic prosperity for all Nigerians.”

He further said that with social distancing and lockdowns to curtail the spread of COVID-19, digital literacy had become a must-have.

He noted that for millions of people who are unable to use technology, the offline world is economically and socially isolating.

“Digital literacy helps vulnerable populations to develop the capabilities needed to leverage technology for business, education and communication.

“Improving digital literacy helps builds a more prosperous future for all Nigerians.

“The UK government is pleased to support this programme to help Nigeria’s economic development and make more people resilient in tackling the shared challenge of COVID-19,’’ he said.

Commenting on the signed agreement, the Head of Digital Development and global lead for the Digital Access Programme, Alessandra Lustrati, said: “The Basic Digital Literacy for Rural Clusters in Northern Nigeria Project aligns with Sustainable Development Goals.”

He said the goals were related to education, reduction of poverty, inequality and contributes to digital inclusion as a key enabler of local development processes.

Lustrati said that by investing in digital literacy for disadvantaged people living in rural clusters in Northern Nigeria, the project would contribute to reducing vulnerability by enabling access to vital information.

He noted that it would also increase employment for beneficiaries and reduce the gap in the digital skills needed during the pandemic.

“This pilot project will directly benefit 1,000 people, and even more importantly, it will serve to demonstrate a scalable, sustainable model of digital skills development,” he said.

The Executive Director of Tech4Dev, Diwura Oladepo said: “In the fourth industrial revolution, basic digital literacy is a fundamental human right because every aspect of our lives is defined and shaped by technology.”

He warned that no one should lack access to opportunities due to their inadequate digital skills regardless of their gender, race and social status or as a person living with disability.

“The programme for rural clusters in northern Nigeria marks a continuation of our mission to ensure that everyone, especially the vulnerable people within underserved communities, has access to the right digital skills development opportunities,’’ Oladepo said.

Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Wale Ojetimi
Source: NAN

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