A 2020 national youth survey revealed that fifty-five percent of youths aged between fifteen and thirty-five lacked the knowledge of word processing and did not understand the relevance of information communication technology (ICT). The national survey indicated that forty-two percent of youths within the age bracket lacked jobs due to the absence of computer knowledge and did not have the capacity to access the employment market in sectors such as banking, oil and gas and others.
THE same national survey stated that only one million three hundred thousand youths between the same age bracket out of the twenty-three million surveyed possessed the skills to work as certified ICT professionals in relation to artificial intelligence and other sub-sectors in the field. The findings of the national survey, published in The Hope Newspapers recently, shows that action needs to be implemented on growing computer education in the country, or the banking, oil and gas and other sectors will exclude a large population of youths in the next ten to twenty years.
IN a subsequent investigation on the issue, journalists discovered that students in many primary, secondary, and higher institutions spend very little time on computer systems, with those having access only doing so during periods allotted to computer studies. To make matters worse, students in many schools only have computer studies allotted to them twice in a week, with a youth in university admitting that lecturers taught them computer courses at the 100 level and all based on theory.
UNFORTUNATELY, since student in many schools only have computer knowledge based on theory, they end up without the requisite knowledge of the ICT sector, with many of them lacking the basic skills about operating a computer or accessing the internet. The Hope frowns at a situation where youths in this digital age lack the basic knowledge about operating a computer, as knowledge based on theory and computer studies twice a week could pose challenges in the face of the rapid technological transformations taking place.
ACCORDING to a study, 65 percent of the 74,280 public primary and junior secondary schools in the nation face challenges related to electricity, with the nation needing at least 11,000 megawatts to serve needs such as the provision of a technology-based education. In a recent report, the University of Lagos faced challenges related to having adequate electricity for the needs of students and lecturers, forcing it to pay monthly charges of N61 million when academic and non-academic activities took place. In another report, 94 percent of public primary schools in the nation faced the challenge of having computers in their laboratories, resulting to 67.7 percent of youths acquiring computer skills through friends, 39.3 percent through self-teaching and 21.7 percent through the reading of books. With the nation’s educational institutions facing the challenge of access to adequate electricity, and the schools not stocking computers to their laboratories, the reason why youths become limited in exhibiting the basic knowledge about operating a computer becomes clear, since access to computer education takes place through friends, uncoordinated study and self- tutorship.
THE digital opportunity index scores released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ranked Nigeria in a lowly 31st position among African countries, with a low score recorded for the country in terms of opportunities, infrastructures and utilization. One research finding ranked 56.9 percent of Nigerians as digital illiterates, despite 98 percent of internet users in Nigeria gaining access through mobile telephone networks. Studies rank 60 percent of Nigerian graduates as digital illiterates, because they lack basic skills to compete in the twenty-first century digital economy, implying the existence of a skill mismatch between the labor market and the education sector.
The Hope endorses the view that the nation should implement measures to change the low ranking from numerous bodies, and the best way to perform the magic resides in the development of a computer culture to provide a synergy between the educational system and the labor market, as well as improving scores related to opportunities, infrastructures, and utilization.
FOR this to happen, federal and state governments should emulate countries such as Rwanda by implementing an education policy mandating educational institutions to have computer laboratories in their premises. Nigerian government should scale up the production of computer hardware and software in the country, with some universities selected and given the necessary support for this imperative. Government should jettison some of the computer projects embarked upon by their predecessors, due to their archaic approaches, while policies such as Opon Imo programme initiated by former governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in Osun State should be implemented. The present situation in the digital sector as related to youths should undergo a transformation if federal and state governments combine policies of jettisoning obsolete computer projects, scaling up the production of computer hardware and software and implementing a digital sensitive education system.
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