As Nigeria continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, its government has launched a free virtual learning academy for Nigerians especially students and youth staying at home as a result of the lockdown.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the closure of all schools across the country, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The move, though lauded at first, soon met with criticism over what many termed the country’s inability to embrace virtual learning as an alternative during the stay-at-home period, at least for students and pupils.
However, on Wednesday, the government said it was making efforts to leverage on the digital sector to address the problem.
It then launched a virtual learning academy to cushion whatever effects the shutdown may be having.
The launch was commissioned by Minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, during a virtual meeting with the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) in Abuja.
“Considering the rapid change of things across the world as a result of the pandemic, the academy became necessary,” Mr Pantami said, adding that Nigeria cannot be left behind.
He said the the academy will enable the ministry create a pool of trained and skilled youths and encourage continuous learning at home.
“Other benefits include: building, upgrading and integrating the capacity among Nigerians as well as bridging the gap between the academia and the industry,” he said.
He said the academy will add value to millions of skilled and unskilled Nigerians to prepare them for the post-COVID-19 economy.
According to him, “the training is free and comes in three categories and is meant to enable public servants to acquire prerequisite skills they may need to fit into the emerging post-COVID-19 economy.
“It also comes with a pack of various courses that will lead to certification from CISCO, Oracle, Huawei and even Havard among others.
“The commissioning of the academy being unprecedented, we are working to conduct the FEC virtually. Particularly, if there is a critical issues, the President will GI online and conduct meeting virtually. If that is approved, we will go on to to conduct the FEC meetings virtually,” he said .
Mr Pantami called on Nigerians to utilise the opportunity to build their capacity and skills.
He encouraged students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning to leverage the platform provided by the NITDA academy to acquire more skills, insisting that the era when certificate counts over skills is over.
“I feel there is no better time to utilise this platform to build peoples’ capacity than now. It has so many benefits.
“I encourage our students in key into this initiative because today, it is no longer about the skills they acquired but about the skills and capacity,” he said.
Meanwhile, the director general of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said the academy was conceptualised to mitigate against the effects of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
He said NITDA would promote digital literacy strategy for the post-COVID-19 world in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy of President Buhari.
The country Manager of CISCO, Olakunle Olatimeyi, said the launching of the academy is an important journey for Nigeria “not just now we are faced with COVID-19 but for the future.”
He advised the ministry to make sure it carries service providers along and also offer them subsidy so as to make their services affordable for more Nigerians.