UK’s Prosperity Fund, AREAi to Promote Education, Digital Equity in Nigeria

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Mary Nnah

As the adoption of remote learning increases with the COVID-19 pandemic and the extent to which mass school closures have interrupted and impacted children’s education and learning, becomes prevalent, the United Kingdom Government, through its Prosperity Fund Digital Access Programme, has signed an agreement with the Nigerian non-profit organisation, Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi) to carry out the “Education Digital Equity Initiative” to reach most marginalised children in rural clusters across Nigeria.

The project whose agreement was signed on December 21, 2020 will be implemented across 12 rural communities in six states, and would support 9000 students and school administrators from 24 primary and secondary schools with information and online resources to enable the effective use of information and communication technologies for learning.

Reacting to the development, UK Deputy high commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, said, “Brilliant that the UK can help the most disadvantaged with digital literacy so they can access the knowledge economy in Nigeria and become better able to work and communicate given the challenges COVID-19 poses in Nigeria and globally.”

The Founder and Executive Director of the NGO, Gideon Seun Olanrewaju, while commenting on the agreement, expressed his excitement and enthusiasm about the collaboration with the UK in Nigeria.

He said, “As witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital inequity remains a leading factor of marginalisation and educational deprivation in Nigeria.

“We are excited that this project is set to change this narrative through its overarching objective of highlighting community-based initiatives that students from low-income families can adopt in accessing remote learning materials, digital education resources options and digital opportunities.

“This Education Digital Equity Initiative is set to address digital exclusion across the six geopolitical regions in Nigeria and will undoubtedly contribute immensely to achieving access and opportunity to digital tools, resources, and services to increase digital knowledge, awareness, and skills for rural children and under-resourced schools in remote areas and underserved communities.”

According to AREAi, the targeted audience for this initiative would be reached by AREAi through advocacy and outreach; community engagement, local community stakeholders, local community influencers and the traditional media in selected communities in Kwara, Ekiti, Adamawa, Kano, Bayelsa and Ebonyi States.

“Revolutionising access to digital education and mobilising knowledge-based tools to bridge the digital divide and empower the vulnerable is a necessity. There is no gainsaying the fact that this partnership between AREAi and the UK Digital Access Programme will achieve digital equity”, Olanrewaju added.