Nigeria: Could lack of digital skills be contributing to mass failure in UTME?

By | L.I.F.E.

By:Umar Amir Abdullahi

Every year, thousands of students write the Unified tertiary matriculation examinations (UTME) to compete for limited slots into tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The UTME is administered by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), a body that was established in 1978 to administer entrance examinations into tertiary institutions across the Nation.

Prior to 2014, UTME took a paper-based test format but from May 17, 2014, all UTMEs have been computer-based tests (CBTs) requiring digital skills. The Nigerian Government can argue that by making the entrance exams paper-based, it is merely bringing the board in line with the 21st century which has been dubbed the digital century.

A majority of the students who write the exam each year come from Government Schools. Most of these schools do not have access to computers. Even in the few schools where computers are available, power to run those computers and skilled teachers that can instruct students are often unavailable.

I had hoped the Government would put the necessary resources in place to ensure students in public schools are being adequately trained in the use of computers so they can sit for entrance exams into tertiary institutions without fear. However, after 5 years of CBTs, that has not been the case. Instead, a number of businesses have sprung up that in exchange for money give the students a crash course in how to sit for their UTME. This puts unnecessary pressure on poor parents who not only have to raise thousands of Naira to make sure their children can register for UTME but also have to find additional money to enrol those children, who have never had access to computers, into CBT training centres which claim to be able to prepare them for the exams with just a few minutes of training.

Confidence is a key factor in how well one does in an exam. For a student who has never touched a computer prior to their UTME, asking them to write an exam using digital technology and expecting them to pass may be a tall order. Gaddafi was a student who attended Paradigm Initiative’s free digital skills training in 2019. During his interview, Gaddafi claimed he had sat for UTME before and failed. When asked what he thought was responsible for his failure, he said he had never touched a computer until the day of his exam. When the exam began, his body was shaking and he had difficulty focusing on the questions. How many stories like Gaddafi’s remain untold across Nigeria? Of students who failed their entrance exams because they had not been equipped with the digital skills to comfortably use a computer?

In the 2019 UTMEs, 1,792,719 students sat for the exam. Only 427,156 scored 200 and above. Any exam where only 23% of the candidates score 50% and above is a warning sign. Of those who failed, what role did lack of digital skills play in their failure?

To be fair, transforming UTME from a paper-based to a computer-based test is a good thing. A digital test, apart from being more in line with the skills required for the 21st century, also eases the logistics problems of having to print and transport under heavy guard large volumes of paper material for the exams. However, any advantage this offers will be defeated if the educational system is not training Secondary School Students to have the necessary digital skills required to sit for Computer Based Tests.

I can argue that the current state of affairs, does not bode well for the future of Nigeria. If students, mostly from poor backgrounds, keep failing entrance examinations because the Government has not provided them with computers to train with in their Schools and those students see their peers from more affluent backgrounds having access to computers and passing exams, it could be laying the stage for a future where the gap between the rich and the poor widens further. The affluent being able to gain admission to tertiary institutions while the poor lacking digital skills do not.

Not every Government School Student’s story earns on as happy a note as Gaddafi’s. Having attended Paradigm Initiative’s 10 weeks free digital skills program in Kano, he feels confident to write UTME again. We can only hope the Government invests in the necessary infrastructure to make the dream of a digitally literate Nigerian youth a reality.

Umar Amir Abdullahi is Paradigm Initiative’s former Program Officer from Dakata, Kano State.

Vacancy: Program Officer (Kano, Nigeria)

By | L.I.F.E.

Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth. Our programs include digital inclusion programs – such as the Life Skills. ICT. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program and Techtiary program – and a digital rights program, Magoyi. Across our offices in Nigeria (Aba, Abuja, Ajegunle, Kano, Yaba), Tanzania, Zambia, Togo and Cameroon, and beyond, as part of a pan-African expansion plan, we work to connect under-served youth with improved livelihoods through our digital inclusion and digital rights programs.

Job Title: Program Officer (DakataL.I.F.E.)

Job Summary:

In 2016, Paradigm Initiative started a digital readiness training for young people in Kano. Our training centre in Dakata has connected young women and men to life-changing opportunities through the Life Skills. ICT Skills. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship Skills (LIFE) program that runs over 10 weeks. We are now expanding the scope of the work beyond Kano, to cover much of the region.

The Program Officer we are looking for will organize, coordinate and manage the L.I.F.E program and events relevant to accomplishing the organization’s strategic goals and objectives, as well as establishing networks with partners.


Dakata, Kano State, Nigeria

Roles and Responsibilities:

  1. Policy and Administration
  • Support with the identification and interpretation of program strategies and policies
  • Assist in administering training for other support staff and team members
  • Research and develop materials and reports that outlines the successful completion of programs
  • Logging complaints and problems associated with running the programs effectively
  • Supports the administrative team when the need arises
  • Attend corporate functions in order to build the organization’s network
  1. Resource Control and Financial Management
  • Effective management of tools and resources for program implementation
  • Keeps records of all financial transactions associated with program processes and completion
  • Ensure proper management of all budgetary allocations for program management 
  1. Programs Planning and Implementation
  • Impact the organization’s output by developing and interpreting initiatives and new trends of program development
  • Renders advisory services to the program manager or when required on matters of program planning, implementation, development and sustainability
  • Providing essential support services to the team on a regular basis
  • Provide regular updates of all planning processes, practices and program methodology
  • Collects and collates all reports of completed programs and events
  1. Community Relations
  • Identifying, developing and promoting partnerships with other external organizations
  • Providing the communities with relevant information about the organization’s programs and events

Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in any field of management or equivalent experience.
  • Experience in managing programs and events.
  • Competence in the usage of computer systems, software, data and IT applications.
  • Vast knowledge and understanding of program planning, analysis, implementation and development.
  • Experience in program design.


  • Commensurate with experience and skills

How to Apply

Please click here to fill the application form

If you are the person our team needs to lead this effort for Paradigm Initiative, apply before November 26, 2019.

Creating Opportunities for Girls in Neglected Communities

By | AbaLIFE, L.I.F.E.

It is common knowledge that the female folk are the most marginalized group, especially in most Sub-Saharan African communities. They are always made to bear the brunt of the adverse economic situation of families. This story is not different for most girls living in underserved communities in the outskirt of the city of Aba, Abia State, Nigeria. The introduction of Paradigm Initiative’s youth capacity development training that offers four prong training program in the areas of LIFE SKILLS, ICT, FINANCIAL READINESS and ENTREPRENEURSHIP have seen girls from these underserved communities taking advantage of the training program to acquire skills that are helping them to access opportunities that otherwise would have eluded them.

ANN OGUDORO is a 22 years old girl who was teaching in a private primary school as an auxiliary teacher where what she is paid at the end of every month barely does anything for her as she spends most of the money on transportation before the end of the month. According to her, the only thing that kept her there was her limitation of being a Senior School Certificate (S.S.C.) holder and she cannot get any better job. Besides, she did not have any extra skill apart from her S.S.C.

When a friend of hers who had earlier passed through the Paradigm Initiative’s training told her about the opportunity, she had to quit the job temporarily to participate and upon completing the training she returned to the school with her newly acquired skills. To deploy her newly acquired website development and management skills, she volunteered to handle the backend of the school website which she did very well to the admiration of the school management. The above led to her being promoted from a classroom teacher to be part of the school website management team with a bigger and better salary than what she previously earned.

On the part of Oluchi Anya, an 18 year old fresh secondary school leaver who was looking for an opportunity to get a job that will help her contribute to her parents’ meager income which wasn’t enough to meet their family needs, all her job hunting efforts never yielded any positive result as all the offices she applied to were looking for people with additional skill to their secondary education and she had none then. She tried looking for where to get computer competence skills and found out that her parents couldn’t afford the cost of the training and this almost pushed her into depression. It was at this point that she heard about our digital skill workshop for girls which we implemented in partnership with INTEL West Africa and signed up for it.

After the workshop, she started practicing what she learned in the workshop at any opportunity she had access to a computer. She also resumed her job hunting afresh, and according to her, she was doing that with confidence based on her newly acquired skills and it didn’t take long before her efforts paid off as she got a job as a clerical assistant in a law firm where the digital skills she acquired has helped her to fit into the job very well.

L.I.F.E 2017 Q3 Overview

By | L.I.F.E.

General Update:

  • Paradigm Initiative has now commenced its LIFE@School program in Ajegunle. We inaugurated the first LIFE@School Club at El Leonora College. The expansion is in line with our plan to impact more youth. LIFE@School gives us the opportunity to scale our LIFE program and empower more young people with Life, ICT and financial readiness at school
  • The 2017C class is now in session across our three centres. 90 youth were selected to participate in the last class of 2017.


Tweet 3 AjegunleLIFE (2) 



The DakataLIFE 2017B class continued in July. The students had training in web development. They also concluded teamwork on their business plans followed by a business plan presentation during which the team pitched their business ideas. Business ideas pitched included packaged spices, bespoke bags and poultry farming. On August 4th, the 2017B class had their graduation ceremony. 30 students met the criteria and were presented with Letters of Completion. It was a fun ceremony with drama presentations by the students and a surprise Skype call with the Program Manager.

DAIC Picture 30


In the month of July, AjegunleLIFE Centre continued to offer capacity building opportunities to under-served youth from the community (Ajegunle). The LIFE 2017B training continued with morning drilling sessions, ICT classes and business development sessions. The topics – Creative thinking, Job interview, Team Work and Problem Solving – were discussed during the life skill sessions. At the ICT classes, students were taught Graphic design (using CorelDraw), HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP.

The LIFE Workshop took place on the 15th of July, 2017; the workshop was facilitated by Femi Taiwo, (Director of Programs, LEAP Africa) and he was assisted by Esther. The topic discussed was “Write to The Top”, which was to improve the communication skills of both students and alumni who were present at the work shop.

AjegunleLIFE Team received fellows from Teach for Nigeria, whose visit was to see how activities at the Centre take place and to see the impact stories of the students attending the LIFE Program.


Tweet 4 AjegunleLIFE


In this quarter we concluded the 2017B session of our training where 35 out the 35 accepted into the training successfully completed the training and received their completion letters on the 4th August 2017.

LIFE@School will commence with New World International Secondary School in October 2017.

We also hosted 35 girls in the SheWillConnect 2-day digital readiness workshop on the 7th and 8th September 2017

AbaLIFE will hold its annual Town hall meeting and Alumni forum coming on 10th and 11th November respectively.


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Online courses as a means of developing digital expertise in Africa

By | #PINternetFreedom, DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

By Babatunde Okunoye 


“The World is flat” is the title of the bestselling book by Thomas Friedman, the influential American author and Journalist, where he argued that several developments in the 21st century such as outsourcing, the personal computer, the Internet, the standardization of commercial technology globally and international trade have led to a shift in economic competitiveness across the world. This shift has created a level playing ground and new opportunities for millions of people in developing countries who hitherto were economically and socially disenfranchised. Empowered by these new opportunities, many of the world’s poorest nations have over the space of a decade developed highly skilled workers who have not only put pressure on workers in developed nations but are also displacing them in some instances. Several corporations in the European Union and the United States now outsource services such as call centre operation and computer coding to markets in Asia.

One of these levellers of development, the Internet, has transformed the way educational content is delivered worldwide. The rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allows millions of people to attain professional and university level training affordably and at their own pace. This has undoubtedly revolutionized education in the past decade. MOOCs platforms such as Edx and Coursera, backed by leading international universities, provide easy access to training in highly sought skills such as Data Science and computer programming.

Africa’s severe developmental challenges have often meant that development workers and partners working on Digital inclusion on the continent have often focused more on providing the basics such as greater Internet access and computer appreciation to the mass of underserved youth on the continent. However, in the past five years, several tech clusters have emerged across Africa, a testament to the maturing expertise of a young people in Africa in the higher end tech skills. As the success stories of these tech start-ups spread, including how they have successfully secured international investment funding, they can inspire a whole new generation of Africans to change the digital landscape in Africa.

Thousands of youths across Africa, using these success stories, can thus envision a viable future in technology. And given the challenges inherent in many education systems in Africa, MOOCs provide an avenue where Africa’s budding technologists can learn with the best students and teachers in the world, demolishing the developmental barriers common to the continent. Raising awareness of the many opportunities that abound in MOOCs is key to this objective. In this regard, Paradigm Initiative has been in the forefront of spreading awareness of the big opportunities available in MOOCs and other digital tools. Through our digital inclusion program called ‘LIFE’, an acronym for ‘Life Skills. ICTs. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship’, we are working across underserved communities and schools in Nigeria to improve the livelihoods of youths through ICTs.

For youth in Africa to derive the best benefits from the opportunities inherent in MOOCs however, African governments must resist the temptation to shut down the Internet as they have repeatedly done in the past 2 years. Our Digital Rights in Africa Report 2016 documented 11 cases of Internet shutdowns in Africa in 2016. In 2017, there have been 7 cases of Internet shutdowns in Africa – In Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, South Sudan and Togo. The Internet shutdown in Togohappened on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, in response to political protests in the country. As demonstrated by the story of Nji Collins Gbah, the 17-year-old Google coding champion from Cameroon who might have missed the opportunity to enter the competition had the Internet shutdown of January 17, 2017, in Cameroon arrived a day earlier (January 16, the deadline for the competition), numerous opportunities for self-development for youth are lost through Internet disruptions. For Africa to reach its full potential, developmental tools like the Internet must be kept on and its use encouraged, particularly by young people.

Echoes From LIFE: Kayode Aina

By | L.I.F.E.


After my secondary school education, I was idle as I had nothing to do. Once in awhile, I assisted my father with his carpentry work. But it was clear I had no interest in it

A friend of mine, Faruq Abdulrahman (2015D class), who attended the AjegunleLIFE training, told me about it. I realised how he had changed, he was not the same person after his training. He followed his passion which is fashion designing. I wanted to be like him, so I convinced my father to buy me the application form.Kayode Aina (1)

Before the program, I would visit my neighbour to learn a few things about computer but he wouldn’t have much time for me. Attending the AjegunleLIFE program has been a life-changing event in my life. I have always wanted to be a graphic designer and now I can design anything and I have also learnt how to write a business plan.

The ICT class gave me the necessary skills for my dream work and the entrepreneurship class taught me how to start a business and write a business plan. The life skill class helped me improve my communication skill and I’ve being able to work on my attitude.

Presently, I am seeking a graphic design/printing house where I can learn more about graphic designing.

Echoes From LIFE: Ekong Vivian

By | L.I.F.E.

I worked as a fashion designer before my AjegunleLIFE training. I was also preparing to take the JAMB UTME. My sister, Nancy Ekong (2016A class) told me about the program and all the benefits it presented.

I used the computer before my training, but not really for productive activities, while I was in secondary school; it used to be a game console for me as I had not realized other uses of the computer. I am naturally a reserved individual and also a shy person, but this training cracked my shell and I was able to develop good communications and interrelation skills with other students.

The LIFE skills classes and entrepreneurship development classes have improved my mindset with a positivist and business oriented one; as I now see life from a brighter perspective that I can make the best of my life irrespective of the community I live in, I realized that I could go out or in fact make it within the community no matter what.Ekonj Vivian (3)

Now that I have concluded my training, I am going to continue my fashion designing job as I await my tertiary entrance examination. I also want to revisit snail rearing business as I earlier opted out of due to my unserious attitude. Now, I want to take it more seriously and integrate my new entrepreneurial and financial readiness skills into it and see where it goes. Even when I gain admission, I still want to have my chains of businesses. I am really inspired to be the best I can, thank you Paradigm Initiative!!

Echoes From LIFE: Ademeso Josiah

By | L.I.F.E.

I concluded my secondary school education in 2014 after which I had been at home; I started teaching at a primary school nearby until I was capable of starting a coaching centre of my own. Bolarinwa Adams, a friend of mine and also an alumnus (2016B class) told me about the #LIFE program and I decided to try it out.

I had computer appreciation skills before the program; as I normally visited cybercafés to surf the net, watch videos and play online games but I have learnt new skills over this past ten (10) weeks. I learnt about Microsoft Office packages, Graphics designing (Adobe Photoshop), Web Designing (HTML, CSS, and JAVA). All these were not on my to-do or to-learn list before the program but I am glad I am now more proficient in computer usage.

The ICT aspect of the training improved and made me more technologically aware, the entrepreneurship classes have helped me develop a business mindset and possibilities of making it within the business environment. The LIFE skills classes helped a lot in my interpersonal relations and expression.

Ademeso Josiah (2)

I had an exciting experience recently when I had the opportunity to teach one of my friends who studied computer science in school how to design a proper website, as he said he only knew the theoretical aspect but needed to learn the practical aspect. I am so happy to have this new knowledge flowing through me; I almost feel I can do anything.

I plan to volunteer in the technical department of my church after the training while I wait to gain admission into a higher institution of learning. I will also like to work with an IT firm so that I can have more professional experience. I look forward to volunteering in training younger ones on computer usage and adaptability. Thanks to Paradigm Initiative for adding more value to my life.

Echoes From LIFE: Ebie Ezekiel Adegheji

By | L.I.F.E.


I am fascinated with anything that has to do with Technology/the Internet, but I never had the opportunity to explore because there was no access to a computer due to affordability. Ajegunle LIFE program has brought about development in my community and a lot of youth including myself have benefitted from the digital inclusion initiative.

Though I had a little background on the use of a computer this cannot be compared to the exposure I had during my training at the AjegunleLIFE Centre. I didn’t want to attend the training because I believed there was nothing new to learn, but my parent made me understand that there is always more to everything and also hearing a family friend’s testimony motivated me to aspire for more.EBIE EZEKIEL (3)

The Training Centre is a conducive learning environment; with the stat of the art infrastructures and equipment, dedicated facilitators, and highly intuitive students. We were encouraged to carry out research works, which has been very helpful till date.

Being connected has really made a difference in my life because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to an audience beyond my immediate community. The skill I have acquired has really helped me in many ways, most especially the Life skills- “Self-awareness and Time Management”. Learning about these has really been an added advantage in my day to day activities.

I currently work as a “Computer Operator” at Ajegunle Diagnostic Centre, managing the laboratory’s databaseEBIE EZEKIEL (2) and sorting out (printing, typing, editing) of scan and test results. I am also improving on my ICT skill by learning Programming related courses online and also building myself to becoming a “Media Strategist/Publicist”.

The AjegunLIFE program has really instilled in me, a self and continuous development mindset. The training really inspired me a lot and I want to especially appreciate Mr Odunsi Oluwaseyi Gabreal and Mr Taiwo Olalekan for their relentless efforts in making me a better person. Thank you Paradigm Initiative for connecting us to the world that seemed beyond.




Echoes From LIFE: Victoria Ajaka

By | L.I.F.E.


I am currently a student at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education. I have employed most of the skills I picked up at the #AjegunleLIFE centre. The research skills have really helped me in delivering quality assignments and general class performance.

I am generally considered tech savvy by my peers and lecturers because of my swift reaction to academic works that have to do with the use of technology, like; email, word processing packages, Excel, etc.Victoria Ajaka (3)

I have trained couple of persons on how to use the computer for different purposes, I taught my aunt to use Microsoft word, excel and powerpoint, I also taught my friends who wrote the computer based UTME how to use the computer.

Thanks to Paradigm Initiative for making me stand out among my peers.


Victoria Ajaka (6)Victoria Ajaka 2016C

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