Bankole Olubamise, a Nigeria ICT expert writes about the formation of the Techno Club, an ICT club for kids and teenagers in Abuja, Nigeria’s national capital
It is no longer news that the 21st century is the information and knowledge age. What is news are the ways most societies are adapting and engaging the new economy built on knowledge, especially knowledge of information and communications technology and how these can be applied as building blocks for development in the 21sts century.
All over the world, most societies, especially developed societies have engaged their children very early to prepare them for the challenges of solving the problems of the 21st century. This is what we mean by societies with vision.
However, in the South-developing countries, especially Africa, the swansong is still ‘please help us, we are lost”. Very few countries of the South have yet come to the information revolution. However, there may be some revolutions in a few, especially in Nigeria.
Generally, ICT diffusion is low, in a recent online interview, a parent alluded as much, according to her “IT penetration is still so low and unknown to many children in Nigeria. It is seen more as a privilege rather than a right and schools who should be doing more robust introduction to IT and technology shy away because of costs. We have to move away from merely the text book picture of computer and mouse etc.
The real use of IT and its benefits is what must be focused on.” In the midst of this darkness, there is a bright light, a revolution of sorts, which might actually be the catalyst for an ICT revolution, which is Antar Techno Club, based in Abuja, Nigeria.
ANTAR Techno Club “derives from a vision to create a band of technology warriors, capable of using technology in every sphere of human life from k-5”. This is because “Today’s kids will grow up in environment where the skills and knowledge required to function in the digital world is inevitable”.
The Club aims to among other things ”create an elite group of children with super extraordinary technology development and application skills that will make them good enough to invent, innovate and produce technology at a very tender age and surely go on to revolutionize the way humans live through various technology innovations and application”.
And the results are already amazing. According to a parent whose children attends the club “one of my sons is adamant his career is in software development.”
Can you imagine what would happen in a few years, when kids get to understand possible future careers at such an early age? It would be hard for such kids to become militants wielding guns against their own country! It will also mean child geniuses can be discovered early, nurtured to become the Bill Gates, Warren Buffets, and Michael Dells of their generation. Very good reasons for the society, the government and other stakeholders to support visionary initiatives like Antar Techno Club.
“Antar Techno club is an initiative of TSC Ltd that seeks to educate children using technology and develop children’s intellectual capabilities in an entertaining and engaging manner through exposure to the use of technology for everyday living”. The Clubs training activities cover electronics, applications, programs, ICT, and multimedia. Thus the ICT revolution is being transferred into the hands of the young and the results, I am elated to say, is quite impressive and encouraging. I have travelled a little bit across the world; I find this initiative quite innovative, especially because it is outside a formal school environment!
During this year’s World Technology and information Society Day, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) calls upon all stakeholders (policy makers, regulators, operators and industry) to promote the adoption of policies and strategies that will protect children in cyberspace and promote their safe access to online resources.
This will not only lead to the building of a more inclusive information society, but will also enable Member States to meet their obligations towards protecting and realizing the rights of children as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989.”
To further support this declaration, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2008 launched the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative with the aim of protecting children as vulnerable users of the Internet. Am happy to report that Antar is helping their kids to engage the internet in a protected manner, as the course content covers various modules to prepare the children for the world wide web or the global village.
The Kids love coming as a parent consented “ My boys love coming and learning. They don’t like missing classes.” This means it is interesting. Parents are therefore enjoined to explore the possibilities of Clubs like Antar Techno Club as an extra mural class for their wards. Most Schools still do not have adequate, if all at all, ICT facilities, but by tapping into the possibilities that club such as this offers, our children can grow up with the balanced educational awareness that they need to make it in the marketplace of the 21st century.
The government has been quite disappointing in helping schools to become ICT compliant, there is surprisingly no Nigerian initiative to put computers in schools on a national scale. National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) should as a matter of national emergency consult with the Education Tax Fund and the Ministry of Education on the need for a National ICT Strategy that will put ICT education and ICT facilities within the reach of every Child in Nigeria.
There are enough initiatives in the draft National ICT4D Strategic Plan, if only the document will see the light of day and if the various organizations involved in ICT development will make it their priority.
Secondly, parents through Parents teachers Associations (PTAs) in all schools should also make the presence of ICT facilities in all schools their priority. Those who can afford it, can support the establishment of such centres, in fact this is a good ground for corporate social responsibility for our private sector.
Recent the One Computer per Child Initiative was launched and even a low cost computer for children has been developed, so the technology is there, but policy and strategy and interest must converge to prepare the young ones for the future, because to come late to the information revolution is to be the underdeveloped countries of the future. We rejects such a future for our children in Jesus name! Tufiakwa, Oti o, Kai, bamu so, as Nigerians would say.
But the key is multiplying such innovative approaches like Antar Techno Club across the country, in every town and villages.
Is it possible? Yes, it is, if we are ready to run purposeful government, focused on developing, intellectual discourse and raising leaders who will be fully prepared to take over in the future. AntaR techno Club HAS SHOWN THE WAY, WHO IS COMING NEXT?
Pastor Bankole Olubamise, an ICT4D Consultant sent this piece from Abuja. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org