The New (or Knowledge) Economy is driven by ICTs, and that means that the level of exposure (or eventual expertise) of individuals to ICTs would be reflected in their degree of participation in the New Economy. There is a strong need to equip young Nigerians with ICT skills that can help them with personal development, career growth and possible global participation. In line with this need, one cannot deny that the present level of exposure is tilted in the favour of young people who attend private schools, or whose parents can afford to pay for computer lessons. While the Lagos Digital Village was established to meet this need by providing free training services for underserved youth (especially beginning from the Ebute Metta area), there is still the need for a massive knowledge campaign that will at least introduce underserved youth to the potential of ICTs.
To this end, we designed (with financial support from Heinrich Boll Foundation) the ICT4All Workshop, with the first edition holding today, March 29 2006, and brought together about forty (40) young people from secondary schools in Ebute Metta and Ajegunle for the purpose of introducing them to computers and Information Technology. In a seminar that featured discussions and practical demonstrations, facilitators trained these young people (in partnership with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria) and discussed the need to follow up with their schools by of setting up (or supporting existing) ICT Clubs that can keep the knowledge relevant and applicable — rather than as a one day encounter.
Moderated by Tope Soremi, the meeting (wich held at the Lagos Digital Village) began with registration and introductions. The day’s work resumed immediately, with a presentation by Seun Olajide titled, What’s in the Box?. The Nigeria Rocks! documetary was next, as it introduced students to some form of work in progress. Ayo Oladejo was next with his No Change Without You! which dealt with the need to move from abusive use of the Internet to productive use. Trust him to touch on the issue of cybercrime and alternative exit points.
After lunch, I spoke with the students about Starting an ICT Club in Your School and also introduced the students to the Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network. It was really exciting for me, noting the interest with which students listened after lunch (not always a good time to make your presentation for fear of nodding heads), and I ended the session in high hope that we can at least start with supporting ICT clubs and help expose these young minds to the opportunities that ICTs provide — thus strategically positioning themselves for personal development, career growth and global participation. Tope had a few questions (including some on the eclipse) and prizes were awarded.