Globally, digital literacy has become essential for all citizens, whether it is to communicate, find employment, receive a comprehensive education or socialize.
In Nigeria, the importance of digital literacy cannot be overstated. Acquiring the right set of digital skills is not only important for learning and preparing the workforce, but it is also vital for the economic development of a nation.
In today’s world, digital literacy is not an option but a requirement for any individual to be considered competitive and better prepared.
The Nigerian government already aims to achieve a 95 percent literacy level in the country by 2030.
To complement that effort, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), under its executive secretary, Arch. Sonny Echono, is adopting strategies to address digital literacy and skills development.
The Fund recently inaugurated a digital literacy committee to advance the Information Technology (ICT) course in the country.
The committee is headed by National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede and includes other members of the university community, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), ICT consultants, TETFund Research Directors, Academic Staff Training and IT Development.
The Committee’s terms of reference are to develop a higher education digital literacy and emerging skills policy and a strategic action plan for the implementation of the policy towards the effective delivery of digital literacy and emerging skills, training and certifications at TETFund, NUC, NBTE, NCCE and all. other regulated tertiary institutions.
It will also develop, adopt or adapt (where possible) a digital literacy standard that addresses national needs and enables the workforce, students and graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions to gain skills or update as technology evolves. and adopt or adapt one or more assessments and certification frameworks in line with global standards.
Speaking at the inauguration, Echono said the formation of the team became necessary given the demand for technology in today’s world, not only in tertiary education but also in Nigeria’s economy.
He said other members of the committee include Professor Musa Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director of IT Infrastructure Solutions, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), The doctor.
Rislana Abdulazeez Kanya, Associate Vice Chancellor, IT, Research and Innovation, Baze University as a member, among others.
Echono said, “As everyone knows, digital literacy is critical to success in today’s technology-driven world, regardless of educational goals, career pursuits or job functions.
“As the world and indeed Nigeria continue to grapple with the growing jobs crisis, the majority of Nigerians in all categories of the workforce lack the basic technology skills needed for real business application.
“So digital literacy proficiency is no longer an option, it’s the prerequisite, it’s the requirements. Our beneficiary institutions must play a crucial role in meeting these requirements.
“I am also aware that there are various policy frameworks in place at the Ministry of Education, as well as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, with the goal of reaching 60 percent digital literacy for youth and adults by 2025.
“Again, we also have Nigeria’s national broadband brand which is also aiming to reach 95 per cent digital levels in states and local governments by 2030.”
He noted that TETfund has found itself in a critical role and the Fund must play its part to achieve these objectives through interventions in beneficiary institutions in various states and local governments where most of the young population passes to enter the workforce. .
He added: “With a view to achieving this and doing more, we are inaugurating this advisory committee today to show us the partial path and work out the steps necessary to do that and I am very encouraged by the president’s comments. of the committee, who tells us exactly what is the magnitude and complexity of the challenge that lies ahead.
“Under the able chairmanship of Professor Emeritus Olugbemiro Jegede, with members from our universities, NITDA, ICT consultants, TETFund research directors, IT training and academic staff development, it is anticipated that we will receive a more holistic and comprehensive plan to increase our efforts towards digital literacy and for today’s exercise, let me outline the composition of this committee and the various roles that members are supposed to play.
“One of the main interventions that we’re trying to do here is to digitize all of our academic records and repositories where you can access this and people can benefit from it.
“As part of the component, we will also develop a device that will capture our own local theses this time because the current system we use, the theses reproduced in this country are not in the database and it is difficult to compare them, but now that we are going to have all our digitized theses.
“This is a composition of a team entrusted with this task and we believe that given the kind of enthusiasm and the initial steps already taken we will be able to accomplish this task in record time,” said the executive secretary.
Echono further said that digital literacy presents many opportunities across several interconnected areas and that beneficiary institutions and Nigerian students are already engaging with and using digital technologies and digital media to find information and communicate meaningfully in different roles and formats, saying this provides significant opportunities and challenges that are important to address.
“Consequently, there is a need to create a knowledgeable and skilled workforce that will facilitate technology and skill acquisition, assimilation, and future mobility and overall productivity.”
He also tasked the committee with presenting the framework for scaling up efforts towards digital literacy productivity and emerging skills.
For his part, the chairman of the committee, Olugbemiro, said that the Strategic Action Plan will include: Defining the basic elements of digital literacy and annual goals; description and articulation of a continuum of skills required for digital literacy, strategies and actions to incorporate digital literacy into workforce training at TETFUND, NUC, NBTE, NCCE and all categories of regulated tertiary institutions, strategies and actions to incorporating digital literacy in all levels and categories of tertiary education in Nigeria, recommendation of curricula consistent with assessment frameworks, among others.
He praised Echono and TETfund for their commitment to ensure digital literacy in the country.
“I am very happy that the group that has been formed is formidable and we appreciate the way in which you have pushed yourself even beyond TETfund by doing many things in other areas and we want to thank you for this.
“Nigeria will continue to be grateful to TETfund and their particular time in office because this is a time of making history, you won’t know for a few months when we put out a roadmap and things start rolling.
“On behalf of everyone on the committee, I want to thank you for finding us worthy of being nominated to this committee. The other is to assure you and each of us that we are ready to work in this area that you have brought us to do.
“I also hope that at some point we can inform Nigerians about some differences that exist. Some universities talk about digitization when they should talk about digitization and there are two different things and I hope we start to make a difference from them,” he said.
Also speaking, the vice chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Professor Musa Ahmed, praised TETfund for the initiative, saying that most universities are doing a lot to promote digital literacy in the country.
“We have done this in many areas. I started with this, initially at the University of Ilorin where we developed skill acquisition as part of graduation requirements and developed a book in that direction at the University of Ilorin.
“So here at Zuru Federal University of Agriculture, we are doing a lot, so I would like to thank ES TETfund which was originally a proposal of this project.
“I have mentioned when he was the perm sec before he retired and I see that for us in the specialized agriculture universities, we are happy with TETfund because if you combine the experiences of agriculture, education and also TETfund to be on that board for a while, then he will I call on the president of the team that I will be very available to contribute my share in this direction and honestly, at my university we have been working when they call us to contribute to proposing the topics that should train people in these areas”, he said.