A society with multiple dimensions of learning always produces the right thinking, visionary and effective leaders. In ASUU’s fight for its demands, students should not become the collateral damage, as they should be able to improve their intelligence and knowledge base by engaging in numerous knowledge-building opportunities…

The unresolved disagreement between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government is weighing heavily on out-of-school Nigerian youths. While some have adopted vocational skills, others sit idle in the discomfort of the economy, struggling to support themselves and their families.

In an effort to make the most of the free time imposed on them by the strike, digital learning has become so widespread that many have discovered other aspects of their potential by accessing the network of technologies for their personal development. .

It is an indisputable aphorism that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. This continued strike by university professors, without any indication of compromise from ASUU or government parties anytime soon, may push many “stay-at-home” students to heinous acts.

At this stage, many students are expected to avail themselves of hands-on engagement in ongoing digital skills initiatives/programs organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other parties stakeholders in the Nigerian tech ecosystem.

In fairness, the strike could prove beneficial for some students who will have used this time to engage in virtual study and digital skills development, although many will still struggle to fit in. to the digital world due to financial difficulties, among other similar constraints.

Even at this, delays in obtaining academic qualifications, long reversal of projects, university clearance, mobilization in national service and overburdened labor market are many challenges that Nigerian students foresee in the academic field. .

NITDA, in its effort to digitize the nation and deinstitutionalize learning, has developed digital channels for free online learning through the NITDA Academy for Research and Training (NART), to build capacity, enable the acquisition of skills and reduce unemployment in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

The platform, in operation since 2020, with fully operational hubs across Nigeria, has been a boon to the promotion of e-learning in the country. In addition to bridging the skills gap between industry and academia, the program also promotes more inclusive access to ICT knowledge for various segments of the Nigerian population.

NART was developed to empower Nigerians with courses that will help them to be creative and find their calling in the job market.

Spreading digital literacy or technological knowledge is a strategic effort by NITDA to inspire many Nigerians to acquire the skills that will help them tap into the many opportunities to become job providers and wealth creators in the economy. digital. Furthermore, it will contribute to capacity building and skills development of Nigerians in the emerging IT industry, and reduce the unemployment rate by filling the growing skills gap in the sector.

The plight of Nigerian students during this strike reflects the adage that “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”. The unique difference is that there is a platform (NART) for students to engage in learning productive skills, without the financial challenge.

NART’s online learning facilities and professional training programs fall into four categories. These include the formation of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); Training of students; General Training, and these trainings in digital skills aim to help those who experience them to function better and achieve autonomy.

With hundreds of courses available, online learning resources have helped many envision a realistic future of lucrative entrepreneurial and digital skills. For students with little digital knowledge of the Internet, programs such as digital literacy, introduction to packet tracer, entrepreneurship courses and many more are basics to know the web of technologies.

Over 47 different courses are accessible on the NART website. Introduction to IT for Lawyers is another great platform for future legal practitioners to digitize their profession and become digitally empowered.

NART’s achievements include training over 26,000 active students and over 200 women in ICT, providing tools upon graduation, developing tech startups and efficiency in artificial intelligence, among others. These have helped many Nigerians spend their time meaningfully and educate themselves in new technologies that will enhance and develop their capabilities in the world of technology.

Although outside the realm of core academics, learning must never stop. In this regard, NITDA Director General Mallam Kashifu Inuwa recently challenged universities across the country to pay more attention to entrepreneurship education to produce graduates capable of creating job opportunities. , rather than becoming job seekers.

Considering the large number of young Nigerians graduating each year, NITDA needs to strengthen its collaboration with the Nigerian university system to enable students to take courses that can serve as industrial training in digital communication, in order to broaden their scope of knowledge beyond. beyond their curricula.

In line with NITDA’s agenda to foster entrepreneurship education and create jobs, higher and vocational education institutions should raise public awareness to encourage virtual learning, innovation creation and digital skills development among students and teachers. This will enable Nigeria to produce more job creators and solution providers in the near future.

It is important to be able to learn with the comfort of digital devices and to be certified with more recent knowledge. With over 20 free training centers in Nigeria, opportunities are available and waiting for more young people to deepen. With established priorities and digital education, the disruption of academic activities due to the ongoing strike will not be so tiring for students when engaged in a gainful way.

A society with multiple dimensions of learning always produces the right thinking, visionary and effective leaders. In ASUU’s fight for its demands, students should not become the collateral damage, as they should be able to improve their intelligence and knowledge base by engaging in numerous opportunities for developing the knowledge created by the federal government.

Zeenat O. Sambo writes from Wuye District in Abuja

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