FG Launches Digital Girls ICT Clubs

The Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, today, launched twelve Digital Girls ICT Clubs across the six geopolitical zones of the country at the Federal Government Girls College, Bwari.

The Digital Girls Club initiative is an early intervention project of the Ministry of Communication Technology aimed at empowering and encouraging Nigerian girls in secondary schools to develop an early interest in ICT. The initiative will also help demystify ICTs and project technology as a viable career option that can empower and impact positively on the future of the girls. The Digital Girls Club is part of the Girls and Women initiative of the federal government geared at empowering Nigerian women and girls. The administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in a bid to empower women and girls in Nigeria created a gender empowerment scheme titled Girls and Women in Nigeria (G-WIN) with the sole aim of positively impacting and improving the lot of women and girls in Nigeria.

To enable this empowerment process, five Ministries- Ministry of Communication Technology, Agriculture, Works, Health and Water Resources signed MOUs with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Finance to empower women and girls through specific interventions and services geared at improving the lives of women and girls in Nigeria. The Ministry of Communication Technology, a key partner in the G-WIN project is empowering women and girls through specific technology initiatives it has identified and developed to empower and enable Nigerian women and girls actualize their potentials.

The Digital Girls ICT Clubs being launched in I2 federal government girls’ schools  is a pilot that will encourage, motivate and stimulate the interest of the girls in ICT-skills, knowledge and careers in a non-threatening manner. The Clubs will also demystify ICTs and project technology as a viable career option that can empower and impact positively on the future of the girls. 1200 girls from the 12 pilot will be impacted upon in the first instance, and the Clubs will be set up across all the Federal Government colleges in all the states of the federation later.  A curriculum that will excite, transform and positively impact on the girls has been developed, and the girls will be taught relevant technology skills that will transform their lives.  A portal www.digitalgirls.org.ng has been created to act as a key tool for also stimulating and empowering the girls to embrace and adopt ICTs.

The aim of these Clubs is to remove the barriers that discourage girls from embracing ICTs. To ensure sustainability and build capacity, the Girls Club will collaborate with ICT teachers of the various schools to teach exciting programmes that will interest the girls-quizzes, ICT games, application development, animation, website development, blogging, graphics design, games, computer programming, etc. The Clubs will be manned by professionals who will play a key role in stimulating the interest of the girls. Periodically mentors will be invited to give inspiring talks and participate in various ICT related activities that will interest the girls. The aim of these Clubs is to help to encourage young girls to embrace ICTs in order to bridge the existing digital divide between males and females. Current statistics in Nigeria reveals that Nigerian women makeup 50% of the population but hold less than 20% of ICT jobs in the country. Also only about 33% of women are online in Nigeria. The Broadband Commission Working Group on Broadband and Gender in a new report entitled ‘’Doubling Digital Opportunities: Enhancing the inclusion of women and girls in the information society’’ lamented the pervasive gap in access of women to ICTs globally. According to the report, there are currently 200 million fewer women online than men and this yawning gap could grow to 350 million in three years. The report also reveals that globally women are coming online later and more slowly than men. The report added that, of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, only 1.3 billion are women. The report states that women account for fewer than 20% of ICT specialists in developing economies.   The report also estimated that, by 2015, 90% of formal employment across all sectors will require ICT skills.

The Digital Girls clubs will be deployed to remove the barriers that discourage girls from embracing ICTs. The goal is to ensure that more girls embrace and adopt ICTs. The Clubs will be manned by the ICT teachers of the twelve schools who will play a key role in stimulating the interest of the girls. Periodically mentors will be invited to give inspiring talks and participate in various ICT related activities that will interest the girls.  The Clubs will teach a number of ICT skills including building websites and games, computer programming, graphics design, assembling and dissembling computers and creating short films.
The Clubs will provide learning in a fun and engaging way and direct technical assistance for the girls. It will also provide a forum where the girls can easily interact with mentors. The activities in the club which will be done on a weekly basis will deepen the girls’ technical skills as they are introduced to additional concepts and skills.  The girls will also participate in a mixture of classes and workshops, presentations and excursions.

In her comments the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson’
‘’We need to increase the participation of women and girls in ICTs. Getting more girls into ICTs is a task we are committed to at the Ministry of Communication Technology. We want to ensure that Nigerian girls encouraged and empowered to embrace ICTs. It is critical to get girls to adopt ICTs so that they are not left behind in the digital revolution changing communities and nations across the globe. Our desire is that the Digital Girls ICT Clubs will empower Nigerian girls and lead to the development of an army of ICT compliant girls that will contribute to the economic growth and empowerment of Nigeria in the future’’.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina represented by a Deputy Director-Women Affairs Department, Mrs. Nkechi Onwukwe said ‘’ the Internet is a crucial tool used today to transform lives of people by helping them to embrace and cultivate new skills in various endeavors. Girls should avail themselves of the opportunity presented to them by the establishment of the Digital Girls Club to gain relevant ICT skills that will help them achieve their desired career objectives. The Minister of Education, Mr. Nyeson Wike in his comments commended the Ministry for the launch of the Digital Girls Club project geared at entrenching and promoting digital skills in young girls in Nigeria.

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