TETFund: Advancing Information Technology Through Digital Literacy, by Rahma Oladosu
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has for years aided the growth and development of the nation’s tertiary education sub sector by providing massive funds for infrastructural development at higher institutions of learning across the country.
TETFund has also been advocating a change in the country’s education policy to encourage and promote digital literacy among the youth.
In today’s world, digital literacy is not an option but a requirement for any individual to be considered competitive and best prepared for a vibrant future. The Nigerian government has been working to achieve a 95 percent literacy level in the country by 2030.
The upsurge in technology and its skills application in recent years have created a revolution in information dissemination in the nation’s education sector.
The obvious preference for the electronic resources by students can definitely be attributed to its flexibility in searching than their paper-based counterpart, and for the interesting fact that they can be accessed remotely at any time. The emergence of electronic resources via technology has removed the barrier to valuable information resources which until now were difficult to access.
Despite the positive roles of these digital innovations in education, schools in Nigeria are yet to extensively adopt them for teaching and learning. The efforts geared towards the integration of innovation into the nation’s education sector are dwarfed by the high digital illiteracy of teachers, poor policy implementation and funding by governments at all levels and limited information infrastructure.
However, for students to enjoy the benefit provided by electronic database resources, they need a high level of digital literacy skills. This skill will help them to acquire information literacy skill, media literacy skill, and ICT literacy. All these skills will enable them to connect to library database resources.
To show that it means business in the pursuit of digital literacy for all citizens, TETFund recently inaugurated a committee on digital literacy in tertiary institutions. This was done in the bid to advance the course of Information Technology (ICT) in the nation’s education sector.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, at the virtual inauguration stated that the committee became imperative given the demand for technology in today’s world, not only in tertiary education but also in the Nigerian economy.
He said: “As you all know, digital literacy is a foundation issue of success in today’s technology driven world, regardless of educational goals, career pursuit or job functions.
“As the world and indeed Nigeria continue to grapple with the growing job crisis, most Nigerians across all categories of the workforce lack the basic technological skills needed for real business application.
“Therefore, proficiency in digital literacy is no longer an option; it is the prerequisite, it is the requirement. Our beneficiary institutions must play a crucial role in achieving these requirements.”
“I am also aware that various policy frameworks exist in the Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy with a target to achieve 60 per cent digital literacy for youths and adults by 2025.
“With a view to achieving this and more, we are inaugurating this advisory committee today to show us the pathway and work out the necessary steps to achieving it. I am very encouraged by the remarks of the chairman of the committee, who told us exactly what the magnitude and complexity of the challenge before us is”.
Echono added that digital literacy presents many opportunities through several inter-connected areas and the beneficiary institutions and Nigerian students are already engaging with digital technologies and digital media and using them to find information and to communicate meaningfully in different roles and formats.
“One of the major interventions we are trying to do here is to digitalise all our academic records and repositories where you can access this and people can benefit from it,” he said.
It is widely known that tertiary institutions remain the chief agents of progress in the society as it helps in the development of nations by providing the high as well as the middle level manpower needed for social, economic and political advancement.
At this point, we need to create a pool of knowledgeable and skilled manpower that will facilitate technology and skill acquisition, assimilation and future mobility and general productivity.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential