The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has begun its ‘School Meets the Learner Approach (SMLA)’ project to empower 50,000 girls in literacy and skills development through Information Communication Technology in Bauchi State.

UNESCO is collaborating with Microsoft and Zariah Elizabeth Foundation to empower women and girls to boost girl-child school enrollment and general societal inequality.

A statement issued in Abuja by the Executive Director, Zariah Elizabeth Foundation in Abuja, Mr. Akindayo Akindolani, said that the programme which began on May 21, is a ‘train the trainer initiative’.

The UNESCO Regional Director, Mr Yao Ydo, at the kick-off of the project earlier in the week, said training women and girls were part of the organisation’s efforts to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Girls’ education will complement the global target of Sustainable Development Goals particularly as it relates to inclusiveness and not leaving anyone behind.

“The SMLA project will deploy ICT devices such as television, tablets and mobile phones to learners in their homes and workplaces to facilitate teaching and learning,” Ydo said.

Akindolani, however, said the collaboration would sustain digital empowerment of Nigerian women and investment in the enhancement of ICT penetration and education in the country.

“The project implementation will be to international standards and will kick off with a train the trainer for computer teachers and facilitators who will serve as trainers for the beneficiaries.

“The students will be trained using digital devices pre-loaded with learning materials based on Microsoft curriculum.

“This project will train 50,000 girls aged 11 to 21 years in Basic Digital Literacy over a period of one year through training of community teachers and facilitators across the six local governments in Bauchi State,” Akindolani said.

He said the six local governments areas were Alkaleri, Bauchi, Dass, Katagum, Tafawa Balewa and Warji respectively.

According to him, the six UNESCO training centres in the six selected local government areas in the state will serve as learning hubs for the period of the project.

Mr Olusola Amusan, Philanthropies Lead Microsoft Nigeria said the empowerment was a way of encouraging more girls in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

“Empowering women in STEM fields drives economic growth, equality and innovation.

“We want to create a culture where more women are attracted to the STEM fields and believe in themselves as having a career path in the technology industry.

“Microsoft Nigeria makes it a point of responsibility to identify laudable projects such as this and continues to demonstrate its resolve to improving ICT education in Nigeria.

“We focus on ICT education especially among the deprived section of the population by committing considerable resources and establishing a monitoring and evaluation system,” he said.