Expert Recommends Online Courses to Boost Digital Expertise

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Emma Okonji

Citing global technology advancement that is changing different narratives in the technology space, the Chief Executive Officer of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan has advised youths in Nigeria and other African countries to consider online courses as veritable means to digitally develop themselves.

Making reference to one of the bestselling books in the world, written by Thomas Friedman, titled “The World is Flat”, Sesan supported the views of the author that several developments in the 21st century such as outsourcing, the personal computer, the Internet, the standardisation of commercial technology globally and international trade, have led to a shift in economic competitiveness across the world.

According to him, the 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,” Sesan said.

One of these levelers 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 revolutionised education in the past decade, Sesan said, adding that 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.

He said 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. He, however, said that 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,” Sesan said.

“Thousands of youths across Africa, using these success stories, are beginning to envision a viable future in technology. Also, 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 the key to this objective,” Sesan added.

He advised African governments to resist the temptation to shut down the internet as they have repeatedly done in the past two years to enable Africa youths to derive the best benefits from the opportunities inherent in MOOCs.