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Student Loans: Inuwa urges NELFUND to accommodate learners on short courses in digital skills

Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Presenting the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0) to Mr. Akintunde Sawyer, Executive Secretary of NELFUND, at the Agency's Headquarters, in Abuja, FCT        Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, affirms the inclusion of short courses on digital skills in the student loans initiative will empower citizens with high-in-demand global skills and position Nigeria as a hotspot for brain export

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the Nigerian Government gears up to activate the student loans scheme nationwide, and the global world shifts from certificates to skill acquisition, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has advised the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), administrator of the student loans initiative, to consider accommodating Nigerian learners who desire to enroll in short courses that will equip them with digital skills to add value to the country’s economy.

ConsumerConnect reports NITDA noted Inuwa stated this in Abuja, FCT, while receiving a delegation from NELFUND, led by Mr. Akintunde Sawyer, Executive Secretary of the Fund.

The Director-General of the Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency said doing this would empower citizens with high-in-demand global skills that will position Nigeria as a hotspot for brain export.

Sawyer said the purpose of the meeting was to learn, collaborate, and present a demo of the NELFUND Portal to NITDA for input.

According to the Executive Secretary, because no one succeeds in isolation, it is important to take into cognisance the role of the five critical stakeholders of the ecosystem and synergise with them.

He equally mentioned that these stakeholders include, higher institutions of learning, corporate organisations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the government.

“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,” stated Sawyer.

In acknowledging that NITDA is working with the Federal Ministry of Education to review the curriculum of tertiary institutions to meet, Inuwa also said: “For Entrepreneurs, they could be students, dropouts, or anybody who has an idea that meets a need and that students should be trained with the mindset that they are acquiring certificates to create jobs and not just to seek white-collar jobs.”

Venture capitalists, Inuwa noted, should be encouraged to invest, as Nigeria’s technology ecosystem attracts more than 30 percent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The NITDA Chief stated: “70 percent 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, therefore, commended the work put into the development of the NELFUND portal, noting the portal should be made mobile-friendly as there are many people that will access the portal through their mobile phones.

“We can organise a user acceptance test to check vulnerability to ensure that it is okay.

“I also want to advise that you carry out the Data Protection Compliance Test to ensure you are complying with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR),” Inuwa suggested.

The Director-General assured NELFUND of the Agency’s commitment to giving them all the necessary support as their interest aligns with NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0).

The Executive Secretary of NELFUND also disclosed the initiative intends to connect as many Nigerians as possible to the fund in order to obtain tertiary education and pay back after their one year mandatory National Youth Service programme.

Sawyer 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.”

He added the NELFUND team had come around to be challenged by NITDA in order to do better, collaborate, and learn from the IT regulatory agency in Nigeria.

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