…harps on guidance, counselling
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has advocated for the strengthening of guidance and counselling department of schools to help students rekindle their dreams, hopes and aspirations for skills development and entrepreneurship.
Pantami made this call at the opening ceremony of a three-day capacity-building programme on guidance and counselling on digital literacy skills for 1,500 career masters organised by the Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development, in collaboration with the Jigawa State government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Dutse, Jigawa State, yesterday.
Represented by the NITDA director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, Pantami stated that proper guidance and counselling are life- changing processes which can make or mar the life of an individual and the society.
He urged those considering a career in ICT to be aware of the range of job descriptions within the profession and understand the minimum educational and skill required to fit into the sector. He further emphasised that transferable skills such as critical-thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills are particularly useful for ICT professionals who work with big data or algorithms and are looking for patterns or creating instructions.
He said there are numerous funding opportunities that can be leveraged on by Federal and state ministries, departments and agencies, as well as international development partners and institutions such as the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Pantami further implored guidance and counselling officers in Nigeria to update their manuals and methods, so as to properly emphasise the significance of skills development and entrepreneurship capability.
“Nigerian educational system is not currently inclined towards developing skills and entrepreneurship abilities of students, or to make them innovative. Therefore, upon graduation, they usually become confused about handling life and making the best of it, even with top grades and multiple paper qualifications. This can be changed with proper education and enlightenment.
“You may be aware that the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, under my leadership, is pursuing a robust and all-encompassing human capacity development agenda that will create a competitive environment for the development and production of IT goods and services in Nigeria. The various capacity development programmes, especially those in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a digital Nigeria, have been designed to serve as a foundation for rapid development in all sectors and we have built hundreds of digital capacity training centers and IT hubs across the nation to facilitate these programmes.
“We have made concerted efforts to strengthen the capacity of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Departments in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Primary and Secondary Schools across the country. At the same time, special capacity-building programmes are vigorously being pursued for students, youths and women groups, artisans, and many others at both the Federal and state levels. The aim is to develop a digitally literate workforce for the government, equipped with the skills required to transform our economy into a knowledge-based one.
“The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are the main drivers of many of these programmes. We, therefore, commend the NITDA for partnering with the Jigawa State government and the Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development for this laudable initiative,” he said.
In his remark, the executive governor of Jigawa State Muhammadu Abubakar, represented by the state’s commissioner for education, Dr. Lawan Danzomo, commended the organisers of the event and assured them of his administration’s total support in their future programmes.
He said the issue of education is vertical and horizontal in landscape, but also deep, wide and very complex.
“Education is our life, what we rely upon to relate with each other socially and religiously activities. So, when there is small leak in education, there will always be a problem,” he said.
He further urged the teachers slated for the training to be honest and shoulder their responsibilities, as failure to discharge these would bring in element of dishonesty, disrespect and insubordination.
“When we talk about guidance and counselling, we are not only zeroing down to students in the classroom; almost all Nigerians need guidance and counselling, because it is something that has to do with good behaviour and social relations.
“Our two major religions, Islam and Christianity have given us scriptures to guide and counsel us, but we have taken different lines of existence; we have missed the road. Therefore, we have destabilised our social relationships. As Chinua Achebe said ‘Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold’.
“We need to train our people on guidance and counselling; not only so students can become the kind of leaders we want them to be but to teach them self-respect and honesty, entrust them with our society, our community, and they can continue to lead us,” he added.