Of Nigeria’s Future And Digital Literacy

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Ugo Aliogo, Shalom Uzochukwu and Favour Edgar, write on the need to drive growth in the country’s educational sector through digital literacy

Gone are the days when the Nigerian child was only exposed to the three Rs – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Today, as the world turns towards the digital age, the overarching needs to ramp up digital competences have become a critical condiment for their success.

Although the age-long question of – what would you like to be when you grow up? – still elicits the expected and predictable answers – lawyer, doctor, engineer, and others, however, the ability of the Nigerian child to favourably compete globally, survive and thrive in their chosen careers will greatly hinge on their capacity to leverage the digital space to solve problems.

Nigeria, popularly referred to as the “Giant of Africa,” is home to about 211.4 million people, going by statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). With the huge human and material resources and opportunities across the country, there has never been a better time to invest heavily in digital literacy and skills for the people than now. Children must therefore take a priority position in this, since they are Nigeria’s bright future.

Furthermore, the UNFPA data showed that 43.3 per cent of the country’s population are children aged 0 to 14, while 32 per cent are aged 10 to 24 years. Hence, the youthful bulge, which is nearly 70 per cent of the total population, can be converted to material, economic and social prosperity for the country by recognising and harnessing digital literacy through coding, programming, and artificial intelligence (AI).

According to a recent joint report by the World Bank Group and International Financial Corporation (IFC), in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030, resulting in almost 650 million training opportunities. Also, Sub-Saharan Africa has a $130 billion investment opportunity in digital skilling through 2030.
The report further revealed that basic skills, including web research and basic software use, are in most demand in Sub-Saharan Africa, with some intermediate and advanced skills like digital marketing and artificial intelligence also a priority.

It however decried the significant gap in supply and demand across all skill levels, with a lower availability of skills in the region.
“Demand for digital skills is expected to grow at a faster rate in the region than in other global markets. The supply of digitally-skilled labor in Sub-Saharan Africa must increase to meet anticipated labor market needs or Africa’s economies will falter.

“80 per cent of industry participants interviewed believe that an undersupply in digital skills would hamper expected economic growth. While governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have taken steps to integrate information and communication technology in education, the policy response has not been sufficient.

“Private providers, governments, and investors must consider how to tap into this demand and advance the digital skills agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa,” it added.

Redefining Digital Education

Stakeholders in the education sector are unanimous in their recommendation that digital skills should be embedded in the educational curriculum.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) report, explained that of the different skills needed for the future, socio-behavioral and digital skills are most critical for success. “Advancements in technology are spurring the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driving a significant shift in the skills that will be required for the future workforce,” the report said.

In Nigeria, to address and close the yawning gaps in digital literacy, Logiscool offers classroom-based and online courses, camps, and other after-school programmes in 20 different topics related to coding, robotics, and digital literacy for children aged 6 to 18.

Founded in 2014, the school became a significant worldwide educational franchise network in just 7 years. The number of Logiscool locations around the world is now over 130 and is represented already in 22 countries.

Elucidating Logiscool’s innovative approach to digital literacy in the education space in the country, the School Manager and Master Franchise Partner of Logiscool Nigeria, Jasmina Marcikic, said: “These days, the media are full of articles about the digital future. They agree that there will be more AI, more robots and the workplace of tomorrow will be full of jobs that do not exist today. As the demand for e-skills is growing in Europe and worldwide, digital literacy cannot be highlighted enough.

“Parents see the IT industry and coding education as a path for their children’s future success. Yet the education system cannot keep up with these demands. In the U.S. alone, one million coders are missing. By fusing education with entertainment, Logiscool found the winning strategy to fulfil this gap in the market.”

Most booming sector

Marcikic further said: “Education is the most booming sector in the world economy and its two-digit yearly growth foreshadows extremely positive prospects for the years to come. In addition to being the safest bet with high profitability, it also creates real value to society: it is an investment in the future generations.

“The earlier we can give a taste of digitality to our kids, the higher chance they will transform from being passive consumers to active creators, ensuring a successful career in a digital world.

“At Logiscool, children do what they like the most: spend time with computer games. But they don’t just play with them; they create their own games. And while learning the main principles of coding, they acquire the most important skills of the future: problem-solving, logical thinking, creativity, endurance, and more.

“With its uniquely developed, proprietary education platform and scalable curriculum, Logiscool can adapt teaching to the age, knowledge level, and learning speed of students and thus maximize the level of satisfaction both for children and their parents.”

She added: “Coding is fundamentally a creative activity, as the same problem can be solved in many different ways. There are good, better and even better solutions, that is why we encourage the kids to try new solutions, dare to find new paths. In our education platform creativity is also induced by the hundreds of available characters and backgrounds, which can help the kids to make their own games even more unique.

“Most of the time, we can state that: the bigger the task/problem we are facing, the harder it is to convince ourselves to start working on the solution. Besides programming, kids also learn at Logiscool how they should break down complex problems to smaller, more easily analysable and solvable subtasks. In the process of making computer games, kids must give precise and unequivocal commands to the computer, in the appropriate order. In written program languages, one missing comma or misspelled command can lead to the computer not understanding what we want from it and our programme not working.”

According to her, “Digital literacy will be fundamental for today’s kids and teens for a successful future, and the key to get the needed skills for it is coding, like Forbes announced in one of its articles: ‘Digital education focuses on developing hard skills like programming and computing while increasing soft skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking, all while fostering creativity within the individual.

As Logiscool managed to keep its role as a global leader in the face of the pandemic, its franchise system proves to be recession-proof. Logiscool’s offer is a ready-made solution: its own classroom management system, proprietary education platform, and 800-plus hours of the uniquely developed curriculum to ensure high lifetime value for each and every student.

“The school and equipment design, the trainers’ portal and training, the full-spectrum curriculum, as well as the education and marketing support are all guaranteed. Logiscool places extra emphasis on continuous development, with innovations launched regularly.”