The drive to learn, and to succeed is high in Africa
Once in a while, the Western media takes a break and shows you a skilled young chap located in Africa and on the brink of success. The light of skill, flair, and enterprise brightens your screen – if you care to follow the story at that moment. But do you know such story is not uncommon in Africa? At least around where I am?
Parents must see computer skills in the same was as arithmetic and language skills
One reason for the many stories of amazing success in career and business given backgrounds that are extremely tough is the culture of wanting to succeed that is birth in children right from their elementary school days. Even illiterate parents understand class positions and would never want their wards to perform poorly in class.
Parents literally rejoice and are happy when their kids display Maths skills or spell words correctly. All the foregoing led to the current level of drive where people are not ready to settle for less; some of those who did it the legal way are the stories we are seeing on screen.
Can you imagine what will happen some years down the line if computing skills are common place in schools in local African communities and parents begin to consider computing skills the same way they consider Arithmetic skills and English language skills?
What can happen if kids possess computing skills like they do language and literacy skills
- Development will happen in Africa at a pace we have never witnessed before.
If you understand the community nature of Africa (and Ubuntu) you will know that what belongs to one, belongs to several. Therefore a little light does good to much more than the owner or the bearer of the light. That little girl will help her parents, uncle, aunt, the next door neighbour and the folks at church with things as simple as typing documents, sending emails, posting on social media …. and going on free e-commerce platforms to post the parents hustle and creations. She would be able to search the web for first aid or more information about diseases. She would be able to get information about opportunities.
- Unemployment levels will further decrease.
The impact of Information and Communication Technologies on the economics of Africa is not only on paper, it is real. Nigeria, despite massive challenges in the years from 2015 to date involving two separate recessions, oil-price slump etc was said to be leveraging on the ICT industry to move the economy into positive. Now imagine what will happen if every school child grows up with ICT skills.
- Improved service delivery.
The level of use of ICTs beyond typing documents is low in most countries in Africa. Aside from big businesses where computing is essential to their services, a lot of business, organisations, and government departments only use computers for preparing memos. The current generation running, managing, and working in a lot of organisations in Africa are happy if they can used MSWord and send their emails themselves. Surely they are digital migrants but they are poor ones at that. When computing skills are standard from elementary schools, the use of ICTs will deepen in organisations as those younger generation takes over down the line.
- Organic digital transformation.
If computing skills are in kids like literacy skills are, everywhere you go, you will encounter kids using technology for almost everything they need to do. They will go up in the same attitude and you will find more and more utilisation of the digital for processes and activities across the society.
What should parents do?
- Provide computing resources for your kids from a early age. You may not include Internet access till the kids are older so as to avoid the unnecessary distractions and ills that certain aspects of the Internet has.
- Demand that schools your ward attend get tech-savvy. Schools already charge a lot of money, charging extra for extra-curricular activities too. But a lot of the schools deliver little of the key skills a child need in the current time. As parents, get the schools to understand the importance of computers, and the necessity of the kids getting compliant with tech.
- Empower your wards with proper computer training. There are programs that run during holidays and school break. It does not have to be specialised or high-tech programs, but programs that teach computer usage intensively and involves the kids using the computers all through the training process.