The Digital Skills Accelerator program of the Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative, aimed at training 300 secondary school girls in basic digital skills across ten secondary schools in Nigeria’s Federal Capital, Abuja, is one significant strategic way of mitigating the high rate of digital disparity in the twenty-first century.
The importance of the timing of this basic digital skills learning program cannot be overstated, as the secondary school girls who have been participating in the training went on their general secondary break, allowing the girls to engage with various digital devices using the skills they have been equipped with to learn remotely.
With the passion for not leaving any child behind in this interconnected world where globalization, information communication technology, and knowledge explosion have reduced the world to a global village, AREAi partnered with two organizations: ARM THE CHILD FOUNDATION, social welfare, and development organization founded to provide free education to internally displaced children and vulnerable children, and UNITED WAY GREATER NIGERIA, a non-profit organization founded to provide free education to internally displaced children and vulnerable children.
This partnership entails a DSA summer learning program to provide computer training and digital skills training to 120 out-of-school young people aged 12 to 20, which aligns with SDGs 4 and 10 (Quality Education and Inequality Reduction). We believe that by investing in digital skills education for children in underserved communities, we can reduce inequalities among urban and underserved students.
The intervention is built around a learner-centered curriculum with the goal of exposing these underserved children to a world of science education in which they can actively participate and leverage while continuing their formal and informal education.
For five weeks, students from Kuchingoro IDP camp and Dutse Camp were exposed to 2 hours of digital skills training facilitated by AREAi’s trained facilitators at Kuchingoro IDP camp and Dutse Centre. These classes were both cognitively demanding and practically engaging, with our intensive curriculum including an introduction to ICT Access and Usage, Information Navigation Skills, Operational Skills, Mobile Skills, and Presentation Skills, all of which are necessary for improving awareness and usage of digital technologies.
The intervention was a huge success, and after five weeks of intensive digital skills training, the MEAL team conducted an endline assessment to determine the program’s impact. Unlike most digital skills measurement protocols that use a self-assessment technique, two digital skills protocols were combined, self-assessment and participant observation, to assess their skill level rigorously.
The learners in this training performed admirably, with their knowledge of digital skills increasing; female participants were 13% at baseline evaluation but increased to 50% at the endline for all sections of skills, while male participants were 21% at baseline evaluation but increased to 60% at the endline for all sections of skills.