Last month, I was in Lagos for a few days and received an invitation from the UNITeS Cisco Networking Academy. UNITeS, for short, is an innovative education initiative that delivers information and communication technology skills to improve career and economic opportunity around the world. Earlier this year on International Women’s Day, the organization hosted events aimed at celebrating women in tech, and sensitizing and encouraging high school girls on the tech track. As the guest speaker at the Queens’ College Lagos event, I was only too glad to serve as a rung in the young women’s ladders. Being thousands of miles away was not a barrier. I participated in the event via video conference, received positive feedback, and most importantly, gained insights from the live Q&A session on how to be a part of solving challenges the girls were facing.
On said recent Lagos trip, I visited the Federal Science and Technical College (FSTC), a co-ed secondary school in Yaba, Lagos, where I spent some time with female students of different disciplines from the senior school. Theirs was one of the many schools across Nigeria with a dedicated lab sponsored by UNITeS, and a robust hands-on computer networking curriculum for the students and teachers. I settled in to listen to them speak about their career aspirations and experiences so far. The conversations showed that they were not all bent on ending up as scientists or engineers, but most importantly their computer training put them in a position to see themselves as technologists in whatever career paths they would pursue. I was impressed.
UNITeS has a goal to empower (thousands of) girls across the country with ICT education, and I applaud their dedication to skills and capacity building. In addition to installing and maintaining computer labs at these schools, they have also taken the initiative and burden of providing each school with a standby generator to cushion the impact of incessant power outages. Not only is this a remarkable commitment to support education for the Nigerian child, it is crucial and way overdue, just as it is obvious that the presence of an ecosystem is crucial for sustainable development. Perfection may be far fetched, but a committed ecosystem that prioritizes children’s welfare and success will definitely leave lasting impact.
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