The COVID 19 pandemic uncovered the digital divide in underserved communities where young people did not have access to ICT-enabled support systems to connect them to digital opportunities. With technological advancement, learning how to use a computer has become an essential part of life. Sadly, not everyone can afford this education, especially people living in disadvantaged communities.
Paradigm Initiative (PIN) continues to work to bridge this digital literacy gap in underserved communities with the Digital Inclusion program; LIFE. LIFE is an acronym that stands for “Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship”. This is a reflection on our expansion activities in Ogun state as we partnered with Mentor an African Child Initiative (MACI).
At the close of 2020, PIN and MACI commenced connecting young people in Ogun State with digital opportunities. The team delivered a Digital Readiness Workshop where 14 young people were trained on Microsoft productivity tools, online research and online safety. With the resounding success of the workshop, we commenced a LIFE Program in Abeokuta, Ogun state in March 2021. The entire process started with the application phase, where we received applications from within and outside Ogun State. But after a thorough interview and selection phase, only those who are available and willing to complete the ten-week program were selected for the training. Also, the availability of training devices (computers) limited our selection.
The training methods in delivering the courses were virtual and in-person training. The students watched pre-recorded videos at the virtual classes and had a virtual meeting with the course facilitator to discuss lessons learnt and ask questions. While at the in-person training, the volunteer facilitators were present at the training hub to teach the students.
With the selected students having little or no knowledge of how to use a computer system, one would wonder, what really can they learn in ten weeks? The training covered – Life Skills, Digital Marketing, Designing tools (Photoshop and Canva), Freelancing, Digital Security, and Web development (HTML, CSS, and WordPress). Olofu Josephine, a participant at the training, had this to say; “Before this training, I didn’t know how to use the computer systems very well, I only had basic knowledge. But now I have learnt how to make use of some applications conveniently.”
The LIFE program aims to train these young people and ensure these skills will position them for opportunities to change their lives. Our volunteers made lots of effort to deliver quality training. One of the learners, Akintola Timileyin, who joined the program to improve his employability chances, said, “with these new skills and the ability to use some computer applications very well, I will earn a living.” Balogun Faith, a hairdressing apprentice before the program, shares the same thought; she believes the skills will help her daily activities and business.
With the learning progress and feedback from the participants during the training, we believe we have positively impacted their lives. We look forward to seeing them put their skills to use as we follow them up in their post-training activities.
Now there is a ray of hope for young people in Ogun state Nigeria; one step at a time, we will bridge the digital literacy gap.