The 2020 pandemic further emphasized the significance of technology in our day-to-day lives and how we have become more reliant on our devices for work, school, etc. Yet, developing countries like Nigeria are still lagging in innovative technology. Public schools and some private schools in Nigeria lack the curriculum necessary to expose children to digital skills, information literacy and global opportunities.
According to UNICEF, 60% of out-of-school children are female. The participation of females in STEM remains on average in Africa. Despite representing half of the world’s population, women and girls remain deeply underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Less than 30% of researchers employed in research and development globally are women, and women in tech constitute only 30% of professionals in sub-Saharan Africa.
Based on the study of Onyenekewa, 2010, 36.8% of male student participants can process Microsoft word. Only 8.8% of female participants can process Microsoft word. Thus, confirming the gender gap in digital literacy in Nigeria. Also, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, only 22% on the average of graduates students of Engineering and Technology in Nigeria Universities are female. The Statistics also show that a fifth of all workers in the information and technology sectors are women. Meanwhile, females constitute over 50% of the population. Subsequently, affirming the need for more mobilization of the younger female generation into the technology space.
We conducted a preliminary survey in fifteen secondary schools (ten public schools and five private schools) in Ibadan, Nigeria. Our finding shows that only 7% of the schools are equipped for digital learning. Also, 20% of the schools include entrepreneurship in their curriculum, and less than 15% teach leadership in their school.
During the survey, we met a female student named Shade. Shade is a fourteen years old student in senior secondary school 1. She is the fifth child of eight children in her family and has six sisters. She is an exceptionally brilliant girl and wants to be an engineer when she grows up. When our researcher asked her what specialty, she said computer engineering. Shade has never used a computer before. But she became fascinated with computer engineering when a young teacher brought a laptop into her class—stories such as shade’s story birth the need for leadership and entrepreneurship training that incorporates digital literacy.
Furthermore, our decision to focus on young girls stems from the inequality against girls in Nigeria. For example, in the northern part of Nigeria, where they still practise child marriage, only 17% of primary and secondary school students are female (Adeyemi 2004). Such disheartening statistics inspire more focus on female education. The Girls digital literacy program aims to provide the essential technical skills to girls from low-income backgrounds and instill them with skills to become global citizens.