Inuwa Urges NELFUND to Incorporate Digital Skills Short Courses into Student Loan Program

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Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has emphasized the transition from certificates to skill acquisition worldwide. He advised the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), the administrator of the student loan initiative programme under the current administration, to broaden its scope to accommodate Nigerians seeking enrollment in short courses aimed at equipping them with digital skills.

Inuwa made these suggestions while hosting a delegation from NELFUND, led by Executive Secretary Mr. Akintunde Sawyer. He highlighted the importance of empowering citizens with globally sought-after digital skills, which could position Nigeria as a hub for talent export.

The meeting aimed to foster learning, collaboration, and the presentation of the NELFUND Portal to NITDA for feedback and suggestions.

In his address, Inuwa stressed the interconnectedness of stakeholders in the ecosystem and emphasized the need to synergize with them. He identified five critical stakeholders: higher education institutions, corporate organizations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the government, noting that success is a collective effort and requires the cooperation of all involved parties.

“Higher institutions of learning produce the human capital, so they need to be worked with closely because they need to understand the skills in demand; corporate organisations absorb the human capital by employing them or buying products from entrepreneurs, so if there is a gap between the institution and corporate organisation, it will be difficult to place graduates on jobs as most of our graduates cannot fit into the private sector unless undergoing these short courses,” he said.

In recognizing NITDA’s collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education to revamp tertiary institution curricula, Inuwa emphasized the importance of nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset among students. He highlighted that entrepreneurs could emerge from various backgrounds, including students, dropouts, or anyone with innovative ideas addressing societal needs. Inuwa advocated for training students with the mindset of creating employment opportunities rather than solely pursuing white-collar jobs.

Furthermore, Inuwa underscored the significance of encouraging venture capitalists to invest in Nigeria’s technology ecosystem. He noted that Nigeria’s tech sector attracts more than 30 percent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), indicating its potential for growth and innovation.

“70 per cent of that investment comes from the United States while we have Nigerians who have money; that is why we are trying to set up the seed funding for startups that will encourage indigenous venture capitalists,” he stated.

The Director General of NITDA praised the efforts invested in developing the NELFUND portal, emphasizing the importance of making it mobile-friendly. He highlighted the prevalence of mobile phone usage among people accessing online platforms and stressed the need for the portal to accommodate this trend.

“We can organise a user acceptance test to check vulnerability to ensure that it is okay. I also want to advise that you carryout  the Data Protection Compliance Test to ensure you are complying with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR.)”, he further stated.

Inuwa assured NELFUND of NITDA’s unwavering support, highlighting their shared interests aligned with NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0). Mr. Sawyer, the Executive Secretary of NELFUND, expressed the initiative’s goal to connect as many Nigerians as possible to the fund, enabling them to access tertiary education and repay the loans after completing their mandatory one-year National Youth Service programme.

He said, “Our mission is to strive to revolutionise higher education accessibility in Nigeria by providing interest-free loans to eligible students. We want to help as many people as possible get to the next level as it will benefit the individual, institutions, and the nation at large.”

The Executive Secretary mentioned that their visit aimed to be challenged by NITDA, fostering collaboration and learning from the Agency to enhance their operations and initiatives.

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