By ABUBAKAR YUNUSA Abuja
Experts in the technology and digital advocacy group have urged the Federal and State governments to make Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessible to the children and girls in vulnerable communities to enable them acquire skills to compete favourably and fairly among their peers.
They made the call in one of the sessions hosted by TechHerNG, tagged: “Access to Technology for Children in Vulnerable Groups” at the ongoing Digital Right and inclusion A Forum 2021(DRIF21) in Abuja.
One of the panellists and a software engineer, Asma’u Aliyu said digital literacy remains critical in today’s world, and Nigeria is lagging behind in internet access and needs to urgently fix the system.
She noted that children and girls are among the groups most affected by the limited access to the internet, which she blamed on entrenched social norms & prevailing socio-economic challenges.
“Children are not equipped on how to handled technology because their parents are equally handicapped. In the course of my projects in Borno State last year,I discovered that there is nobody to guide them on how to use it.
“We developed content software that can teach and trained the pupils on how to keep them safe, so that when they go online,they will be able to use it.
“Government has an active role to play in making technology/internet accessible and affordable, particularly in the provision infrastructure,” she said.
She further called for the provision of right information and quality content for children, while emphasising that authorities should begin to hold people accountable for misuse of data, because , many people do not know their digital rights.
“Government and the private sector need to work together to create a community of self-aware citizens,” she said.
Another panellists and founder of Aspilos Foundation,Simi Olusola said about 60 percent Nigerians do not have access to smart phones or digital devices, which is also made worse by the limited internet penetration in the country.
“Government needs to roll out digital literacy platforms, like digital hubs, as it is almost impossible to teach technology without devices or electricity,”
According to her, the high cost of digital devices and access to the internet also make it impossible for vulnerable children to afford.
“90 percent of our primary schools do not have computer teachers. This is why government needs to do to redefine our educational system. We cannot depend on analogue age. As the world is changing, we need to change too,” she said.
Grace Attah, the Business and Partnership Development Officer for TechHerNG, who moderated the session, said the organisation through her School Tour project has been able to reach over 400 children in six peri-urban schools in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, teaching them basic digital skills and online safety.
She said the aim of the project is “to encourage the children to take interest in pursuing careers in technology and to enable them secure meaningful job opportunities and take care of their needs in future.”