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Echoes From Life

News Brief: Paradigm Initiative Launches a Six-week Virtual Training Program

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, Echoes From Life, ICT Policy, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

Paradigm Initiative launches the first cycle of a six-week L.I.F.E (Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship) training program for the year 2021. LIFE training is a free program aimed at enhancing ICT and entrepreneurial skills among youth living in under-served communities and lacking access to tertiary education due to poverty. The training program starting on February 22, 2021, will be witnessing a major shift from in-person training at our various centers in Aba, Ajegunle, Dakata, to a completely virtual session this year.

Upon completing LIFE training, the trained youth are matched with companies to complete internships, trained and supported to begin online work (freelancing), or supported to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas. This enables them to improve their livelihoods and become active citizens.

Gabreal Odunsi is The Program Officer, Digital Inclusion at Paradigm Initiative, who answers some pertinent questions about LIFE training program 2021.

Why the needs for ICT training in 2021 and for how long will this training run?

COVID-19 global pandemic has changed the world’s reality. Numerous organizations are moving their work online for a sustainable future; this has led to an increase in demand for digital skills in workplaces worldwide. Therefore, ICT skills are needed to be more productive and employable. The LIFE training will be mostly virtual this year, due to the pandemic. 

Who can attend and is there a registration fee and a course fee?

The L.I.F.E training program is open to any young person between the ages of 15 – 28, who has graduated from secondary/high school and is enthusiastically passionate about learning these skills and willing to connect with opportunities in the digital economy in order to better their livelihood. The training is 100% FREE.

How will the training be conducted given its virtual nature? 

The program will be conducted using a virtual learning platform to deliver the lessons. We will upload the platform with resources and course activities. Also, the student will be evaluated at different stages of the training program.

We understand this program has been going on for some time now, can you tell us how successful it has been over the years?

Between 2016 and 2020, the program has trained 1119 young people in underserved communities across three states in Nigeria with 469 engaged through apprenticeship programs, job placements, running businesses, and internship programs. We are particularly impressed by the interest many young people are showing towards the program and because we know inculcating these life-changing skills in these youth will go a long way to make them sustainable.

#EchoesFromL.I.F.E: ‘My Life Right Now is a Complete Aftereffect of The Training’ ORITSEMISAN FAVOR ENEMIGIN

By | Echoes From Life, L.I.F.E.

17 years old Oritsemisan worked as a teacher with some schools and tutorial centers before his contact with the LIFE program. Although he had a little knowledge of how to use a computer, the fact that he could improve his ICT skills at the AjegunleLIFE center for free stirred his interest to join the program.

Before the program, Misan’s biggest challenge was his inability to successfully deliver any entrepreneurial skill – He’d tried using the little knowledge he had on graphics design to establish a startup called “Myme Edits”, but it wasn’t successful. “I ask myself ‘If you quit your teaching job, what would you do?’. Well, the LIFE program gave me an answer – You would be a programmer”, said Misan.

During the training, He learned more than just the ICT and Entrepreneur. Misan learned how to actively participate in teams, and how to network. The frequent individual presentations made him bold on how to speak to an audience. He learned positive character traits from the daily morning life skill sessions.

“My life right now is a complete aftereffect of the training. I can proudly say that I am literate of nine programming languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, Python, Java, Dart, and Arduino) and three graphic design software (Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, and Inkscape). I have taught secondary school students, ‘Jambites’ and even Computer Science Students how to code and this is only as a result of the knowledge I got at the training”.

Currently, I am the Lead Front End Developer at DrinkWater_Tech – an IT Company he founded alongside two of his mates that also attended the LIFE program. He is also a graphic designer and a Java student at the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT). He believes that with his growth pace, he’ll be a known tech nerd in the nearest future.

Social Media handles.

Instagram: @enem_isan

Twitter: @EOritsemisan

Facebook: Oritsemisan Favour Enemigin

LinkedIn: Enemigin Oritsemisan

#EchoesFromLIFE: HOW ENECHUKWU CHIBUIKE BECAME A WEB DEVELOPER.

By | AbaLIFE, Echoes From Life, L.I.F.E.

Graduating from secondary school, I was gripped with fear because I did not know what else to do with my life. Learning Computer Science (theoretically) in secondary, I developed an interest in tech, but each time I think of my family background, I get discouraged.

During our visit to National High School, Aba, we met Enechukwu Chibuike. Unfortunately, he was not selected to participate in the newly introduced Digital Inclusion (LIFE@School) Club in his school, a Digital Inclusion initiative powered by Paradigm Initiative (PIN).

Enechukwu Chibuike, undergoing training, LIFE 2019 at PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria

Immediately Chibuike finished his final exams he rushed to PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria. He enquires how much it will cost to undergo the training. He was full of doubt when told the training is free of charge. He reluctantly applied for the second batch of 2019. He was interviewed and was selected. But in doubt, Chibuike ensured that his mother attends the parent/guardian orientation. He spent ten weeks in the center, ensuring he comes early to sit in the front seat. He learned Life skills, ICT, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship.  

In his own words, “The training is an eye-opener to me in ICT, life, industry and otherwise. It helped me to discover the opportunities surrounding me and how to make effective use of them. It made me realize that being an entrepreneur is not just owning a business but the ability to find problems and provide solutions to them. 

Enechukwu Chibuike, undergoing training, LIFE 2019 at PIN’s Digital Inclusion Centre in Aba, South-East Nigeria

Among the modules taught, Chibuike developed a strong interest in web development. “During the training, I developed an interest in web development, learned HTML, CSS, and JAVASCRIPT fundamentals of MySQL and PHP.

Immediately after he graduated from the training program, he got an internship program with LearnFactory Nigeria, also a tech hub in Aba. “The coronavirus pandemic disrupted my internship program. Notwithstanding the pandemic and the global lockdown, I have ‘switched’ to the ‘new normal’ – e-learning/virtual learning.   

I have added a few new programming languages to my skills as I look forward to becoming a full-stack web developer in no time. These new programming languages are React.js, Apollo, and GraphQL. 

 

How Training Programs and Training Organizations Make a difference.

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, Echoes From Life, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

Numbers are important but a positive impact and track records make the difference. At Paradigm Initiative, our training programs are more focused on impact over numbers. The organization has been in existence for 13 years now and has not deviated from its primary goal – connecting underserved young Africans to opportunities in the digital economy in order for them to improve their livelihoods. The organization has worked with governments, civil society, private institutions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, to set standards in ICT education, telecenter support, ICT applications in rural areas, and other ICT interventions in Nigeria and across Africa.

LIFE Training Centre, Aba.

Over the years, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has worked so hard to ensure that its focus is not only on numbers but on impact. For instance, one of PIN’s training programs is the LIFE project, an acronym for Life Skills, ICTs, Financial literacy, and Entrepreneurship – these are the components that make up the training program, and its primary focus has always been on youth within the ages of 12-28 years. The LIFE training program started in Ajegunle (Lagos State), a community in the South-West region in Nigeria but has replicated to other regions (South-East, Northwest) and currently working with organizations in the South-South and North-East in order to expand its operations and impact.  

LIFE Training Centre, Aba

As an organization, we have noticed that one of the challenges most training organizations face is the fact that they don’t keep track of participants that have gone through their training programs. They might have the numbers but they can’t measure the impact on the participants. Having records of participants that have gone through a training program has a huge impact on the organization. To start with, it helps with fundraising – grant-making organizations (funders) want to see what you have done and the impact on society. They want to hear and see your beneficiaries share their stories on how the training program has positively impacted them and moved them from point A to point B. Most times, all funders want is “we have done it, not we can do it”. 

Tracking records will highlight the fact that the organization thought leaders in the ecosystem. This will allow other organizations to want to learn and work with you. This also allows funders to look for you when they want to implement a specific project that has your name and expertise on it. For instance, PIN worked with Intel Corporation on the She Will Connect Project from 2016 to 2018 after Intel literally walked into PIN’s office and offered to work with PIN.     

LIFE Training Centre, Ajegunle.

Focusing on impact and tracking records also gives the organization good publicity and visibility. When training programs are more concerned about impact and track records, publicity and visibility are much easier because beneficiaries will talk/speak about the program (project) and the organization wherever they have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise.

There are countless benefits when training programs are focused on impact and have records of trainees that have benefited from the program. It’s undeniable that people are eager to associate with training organizations that can track and measure their impact. When this process is in place, it’s easy to get experts and professionals that appreciate the work you do and want to contribute (volunteer) or play a part in the success of the program.

Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE program has a record of its trainees from inception, way back from 2007. We keep a database of all trainees that have passed through the program and this is reviewed (updated) periodically. The project is structured in a way that everyone we train is mandated to send a six-month regular report immediately after the training. This has helped us to know what each trainee is doing per time; the process does not just end with trainees sending reports but program staff also taking the responsibility to check on these trainees. Our program staff also ensures a lasting relationship is created before the trainee graduate (leave) from the program. We use different mediums to track (follow-up) our beneficiaries; we call and SMS them, we create both WhatsApp and Facebook groups for them in order to ease communications, and for those that don’t have emails before joining the program, we make sure they create one for themselves and ensure they get familiar with it.    

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

Every year, PIN produces an annual publication referred to as “Echoes from LIFE.” It is a publication that has new impact stories of beneficiaries from the LIFE program. This is possible because we get updates (stories) from our trainees through our follow-up mechanisms (process). Okoye Chisom Gloria joined the LIFE program after a publicity outreach that happened in her Secondary School in 2012, but she told herself that it was all too good to be true, and she didn’t give it any further thought. In 2013, she enrolled and was selected after a second trial – “The program helped me with people-relations (skills) and exposed me to ICT, and took away the shy nature in me. Chisom volunteered for several years on the program before she went further to study Computer Engineering at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

She was a group leader during practical sessions, taught tutorials to her course-mates, and also helped them with issues such as formatting of PCs, repairs, and maintenance. She makes herself available to share new knowledge with our current trainees when she is on break. Now, she has graduated from the University (2014 – 2018), completed her Youth Service (2019 – 2020), and has fully resumed with KPMG (2020) in Nigeria, one of the leading audit firms in the world as a Front end Engineer with interest in creating interactive and rich user experience products. She has experience building a user interface as a sole developer and as part of a team. We constantly follow-up with hundreds of our beneficiaries following the same process as that of Chisom. With this, the program has never run out of impact stories. Finally, focusing on impact and tracking records informs the organization of the number of direct and indirect beneficiaries recorded.     

We are in the process of replicating the LIFE program in Senegal with two-year grant support from the Internet Society Foundation (ISOC). This was possible because the Foundation saw that we have a database of young people that have benefited from our LIFE program and how they have moved on to improve their livelihoods over the years. That gave us leverage over other Senegalese organizations that applied for the grant.

 

By Tosin Abolaji – Program Manager, Digital Inclusion.

Paradigm Initiative Releases 2018 Annual Report, Demonstrates Impact

By | Digital Rights, Echoes From Life, Press Release

The social enterprise, Paradigm Initiative has released its 2018 annual report. The report provides insight into the work of the organisation, especially in how it lives up to its mission of improving the “livelihoods of underserved youths”.

Featured in the annual report is Joy Ukpong, an alumna of the group’s free digital inclusion program. At the time of joining the program, 27-year old Joy Ukpong’s income was N10,000 a month as a  struggling hairdresser in Ajegunle, Lagos. She was desperate for a break, and Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Inclusion program gave her the break which she wisely seized, learning relevant digital and life skills.

Few weeks after the conclusion of the 10-week training, Ukpong got a job as an administrative assistant at a law firm. Her income immediately jumped to N25,000. Thanks to her new skills, Ukpong has a more stable income and work structure that allows her to develop herself.

Her story, according to Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer, Sodiq Alabi, “is another proof that our investment in digital inclusion programs in underserved communities is indeed improving the livelihood of the beneficiaries.”

The Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan also said, “As a result of the year’s investment in under-served Nigerian youth, we were able to train 869 students through the 10-week LIFE program, LIFE@School Club and the quarterly workshops. 150 students got internships, picked up jobs, earned enough to return to school, joined apprenticeship programs and/or started micro businesses. During the year, the average income among our students grew from N4,805.15 to N23,083.25!”

Highlighting the group’s work in digital rights, Sesan said “In 2018, our Digital Rights work covered Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. We hosted 13 training programs, reviewed 36 policy documents, produced 12 research-based reports, acted on 20 digital rights violations, and led 4 litigation processes.”

The Director of Programs, Tope Ogundipe said the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria is an important milestone for the group in 2018. The Bill, which was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 5 2019, has been a major project of the group since 2014 when it began advocacy for the passage of a law dedicated to the protection of online rights and freedoms.

Paradigm Initiative, which was founded in Nigeria in 2007, is physically present in five African countries, from where it executes programs across the continent.  The group said its new Strategic Management Plan (2019-2023) would even see it do more over the next few years.

Echoes From Ajegunle Stories Of Changed Lives

By | Echoes From Life, WPBookList Book Post

Ajegunle.org seeks to create better livelihoods – through ICT opportunities, entrepreneurship training,  short‐term internships, Graduate Loan Scheme – for young people in Nigeria’s underserved areas. We  invite you to view the project video at www.ireport.com/docs/DOC‐14359. Ego, like many other young  people in Nigeria's most popular slum, was not sure of what tomorrow held for her. Now, she works at  the Visa Section of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, thanks to her participation in the  Ajegunle.org project. Funke, another project participant, grew her business of N2,000 by about 2,800%  after the training. We are working towards the replication of the idea beyond Ajegunle, and are also keen on establishing the first Innovation Centre.  

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