The Information and Communications Technology training programme organised by the wife of the Ondo State governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, is aimed at engaging schoolgirls meaningfully during the long holiday and empowering them digitally, writes James Sowole

This is the period for long holiday for primary pupils and secondary school
students in Nigeria. At this period, that is transformational for the
pupils and students as they move from their former classes to a higher one in most
cases, there are no formal educational responsibilities. Therefore,
many of these ‘free’ pupils and students are during this period exposed to
activities that can have either positive or negative effects on their
future.

By nature, girls are more vulnerable to temptations during the period
when they are idle for too long. At this period, many girls are
exposed to activities that get them sexually exploited and abused by
men and which may result in unwanted pregnancies that can ruin their
future careers.

Concerned by the likely consequences of allowing these schoolgirls to
remain idle during the long holiday and the need to impact on them,
wife of the Ondo State governor and founder of the Breast Cancer
Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Mr. Betty Anyanwu–Akeredolu, organised
a four-week intensive Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
training programme for female students drawn from 23 public secondary
schools around Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The training, which has commenced at the recently inaugurated Public
Service Training Institute, Ilara Mokin, in Ifedore Local Government
Area of the state, was the first to be organised and which was devoid
of political motive.

The common trend these days has been summer lessons being organised by
politicians, especially federal and state legislators for students in
their constituencies and which they had been listing as part of their
major achievements when giving account of stewardship.

During the four-week training programme, participants, who were 100
in number, were provided with training kits, free transport from
designated bus stops in Akure to the training venue, were also given
free feeding and other things that will aide their assimilation.

The inauguration of the training programme, was unique as school
principals, government functionaries and parents gathered to witness
the event aimed at empowering girls in the digital world.

Speaking at the event, the First Lady affirmed that the goal of the event
is to impact the lives of the girls with the knowledge of ICT in the
hope that it encourages them to pursue a career in science,
technology, engineering, and mathematical field.

“The gap as we see it in Nigeria is a gully and we are determined to
bridge it. Impacting the girls in Ondo State with the knowledge of ICT
carries all importance and priority in this digital age; it will
broaden the horizon of these young women and place them strategically
in the world. Women’s empowerment in the Information and Communications
Technology is a key factor in determining the success of development
of any nation.

“This is an innovative programme and we should be able to monitor
these children and assess the impact. By fostering the use of ICT for
the social and economic empowerment of our young women, we will be
encouraging them to choose careers in the field of ICT,” she said

The First Lady said the ICT training that participants would acquire
this summer would give them the knowledge on how to create social
media platforms or their personal website which can be used to
champion awareness on breast cancer, end to female genital mutilation,
and even bring about development to their schools.

“Since the girl-child has a role to play in the socio-political
development of a nation, there is the need to empower them with ICT.
We must discourage every social bias that portrays the girl-child as
second fiddle in the society,” she stated.

She said that the desire of the Ondo State Government led by her
husband, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is to make the state a silicon hub.

While commending the partners of the training programme, Mr. Temitope
Runsewe and the company, SAO Capital, the First Lady enjoined some
local government chairmen that were in attendance to take the
programme to their respective councils areas.

In his welcome address, Runsewe, consultant with SAO
Capital, the company partnering with the Office of Her Excellency,
acknowledged the importance of ICT towards achieving sustainable
development, further observed that when a woman is empowered, both the
present and future generations are empowered.

“Technology is revolutionising almost every part of our lives at
unprecedented pace. The opportunity to support the growth of these
individuals through technology is the onus we have placed on
ourselves. This initiative to empower these young girls is a tool for
achieving sustainable development. These 100 female students were
drawn from 23 secondary schools, would be trained for four weeks on
computer appreciation, graphics, games designs, entrepreneurship among
others,” he added.

Earlier, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Women
Affairs, Mrs. Titilayo Adeyemi, in her goodwill message thanked Mrs.
Akeredolu for the initiative while charging the beneficiaries to take
advantage of the training and be change agents in their different
communities.

This landmark event came at no cost to the participants, as their
upkeep, tuition and other expenses have been covered by the First Lady
in partnership with BEMORE Empowered Foundation and SAO Capitals, as
well as some corporate organisations.

Some of the local government chairmen who spoke on the sidelines of
the event included the Chairman of Akoko South West, Augustine
Oloruntogbe; Chairman of Ifedore Local Government, Dipo Ajibola and
Chairman of Akure North, Segun Oluyede.

The chairmen, who commended the organisers of the training programme
described it as novel one that would bridge the gap between students
of the private and public schools promised to replicate it in their
various council areas.

The joy of some of the participants hold no bounds at the ceremony as many of them were full of praises to the wife of the governor for the programme. According to some of them that spoke with THISDAY, some parents had been expressing worries of how to get money to enroll them for computer training now that many examinations are now computer-based.