Experts in the information technology and communication sector of Nigeria’s economy have emphasised that the nation can only reach its 2025 target of growing its digital economy to $88billion revenue through sustained efforts in education.
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP, the experts pointed out the need for the federal government to review its obsolete curriculum to be at par with its contemporaries across the globe in readiness for the upcoming fourth industrial revolution if it would meet its target and also create over 3 million jobs in the sector.
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, the chairman of Digital Africa, Dr Evans Woherem, averred the need for the federal government to put an educational system where the curriculum drives digital literacy.
He said: “The first is education, create an educational system in which everybody is taught how to use the computer, and also how the computer works. Everybody given the kind of society where the world is moving towards the fourth industrial revolution/ the fourth era every citizen of this country does not need to know only how to use the computer but how it also works because if they do both from the point of view of software and hardware then it’ll also begin to teach you the new way of thinking towards the new society that is being built. The new way of thinking is logical and creating computer system both from the point of view of software makes use of a lot of logic.
“So, education is very important but in making sure that almost everybody is taught how to be literate but also making sure that schools both from Primary Schools to university levels have a curriculum that is programmed in such a manner that people can also know how to use computer and how it works.”
He also called for the development of a master plan jointly developed by all stakeholders to drive the process, stressing the need for all players to know the roles and deliverables in the framework.
“In order not to be laggards in the emerging fourth industrial revolution, our leaders have to take the creation of a digital economy that is going to be very competitive very seriously. In taking it seriously, it means that a masterplan needs to be developed. In creating that there should be a lot of participation both from the point of view of the public and private sector. It should involve all the sectors of the economy, a masterplan that can stretch the economy, the people but doable,” he added.
Speaking in the same vein, the executive chairman, Consultancy Support Services Ltd., Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, said Nigeria can achieve the target only if it makes the necessary investments.
The cyber security and ICT expert, gave a three-pronged approach to achieving the target to include People, processes, technology development.
He said: “The most important single investment we need to make is in human resource pipeline. In other words, invest in education and awareness. Many of us would agree at the moment that the education system as it is presently configured is not able to provide the necessary human resources to meet the target. At the moment, the way the education system is, it is not going to provide people who’ll be able to perform.”
According to him, “It’s easy for us to talk about bits and bytes of technology but you need to remember that technology is for people, about people and by people. So, if you don’t have the right people, nothing will work. So, that’s what I am saying, the human resource pipeline, the people who will develop, use, benefit from the system must be gotten to a point of functional literacy. Now, once that is done, the next question is to meet the infrastructure requirement.
“Another is power. The issues are really, first of all, people; processes, governance; for instance, how is the sector regulated, are the regulators cooperating with each other, are they giving people incentives to perform, are they giving people incentives not only to set up companies but to maintain them.”
Similarly, the CEO, CoinMD Africa, Mr Peter Elofusim, harped on the need for the nation to develop a more current curriculum. Elofusim said: “The first thing is that the educational curriculum has to be revised because right now our curriculum is basically still the pre-colonial fashion educational curriculum. A lot of things have moved, the industry space has moved. The federal government’s idea of creating jobs as it is now is actually that of building structures and industries but the truth about it is that job creation has gone beyond creating a massive edifice and call it an industrial company.
“The effort that should have been geared towards equipping students with skills that would enable them to face the challenges in the society and market place is not being done,” he said.
Speaking further he said, “The educational curriculum should be revised to actually teach the skills that will meet the challenges that the society is always presenting. Before now what we had was what was preparing people for the industrial age now we’ve gone beyond that. People were being prepared to face machines that were actually relevant during the industrial age but what we have now is the IT revolution. Incidentally, we actually picked our curriculum from the British but they have moved beyond what they bequeathed us.”
He further urged the federal government to form IT boot camps geared towards equipping and providing IT education free of charge to students who are willing to imbibe that.
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