The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has advocated for strengthening guidance and counselling for schools to help students to rekindle their dreams, hopes and aspirations while also emphasising the significance of skills development and entrepreneurship capability.
This, he said at the opening ceremony of a 3-day capacity building programme on guidance, counselling and basic digital literacy skills for 1,500 career masters organized by the Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development, in collaboration with Jigawa State Government and National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
The ceremony was held at Ahmadu Bello Hall, Dutse, Jigawa State, recently.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, stated that guidance and counselling are now recognised as a life-changing process, the outcome of which can make or mar the life of an individual and the society in general.
Quoting Encyclopedia Britannica, Prof Pantami said, “guidance and counselling is the process of helping individuals to discover and develop their educational, vocational, and psychological potentialities, thereby aiding them to achieve an optimal level of personal happiness and social usefulness.”
He said guidance means to show the way, direction or path to students, while counselling on the other hand is the professional advice specifically offered to the student who is undergoing a personal or psychological issue and needs professional help to overcome it.
Prof Pantami lamented that today, “millions of children are addicted to drugs, engaged in various nefarious activities, delinquencies which consequently results in restlessness, anxiety and confusion.
If this very large group of citizens, students in school and even out-of-school youths, are not properly guided and counselled, they may go on to become social miscreants that pose significant danger and threat to the larger society, he added.
He urged those considering a career in ICT to be aware of the range of job descriptions within the profession and understand the minimum educational and skill requirements to be able to fit into the sector.
Developing transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills are particularly useful for ICT professionals who work with big data or algorithms and are looking for patterns or creating instructions.
He established that numerous funding opportunities can be leveraged from Federal and State Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as international development partners and institutions such as Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and others.
Prof Pantami also implored guidance and counselling officers in Nigeria to update their manuals and methods to properly emphasise the significance of skills development and entrepreneurship capability.
He explained that “the Nigerian educational system is not currently set up in a way to develop skills and entrepreneurship capabilities of students or to make them innovative. Therefore, upon graduation, they usually become confused as to how to handle life and make the best of it, even with top grades and multiple paper qualifications.
However, this can be changed with proper education and enlightenment.”
In his words, “You may be aware that the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under my leadership is pursuing a robust and all-encompassing human capacity development agenda that will create a competitive environment for the development and production of IT goods and services in Nigeria.
The various capacity development programmes, especially those in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS), have been designed to serve as a foundation for rapid development in all sectors, and we have built hundreds of digital capacity training centres and IT Hubs across the nation to facilitate these programmes.”
“We have made concerted efforts to strengthen the capacity of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Departments in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Primary and Secondary Schools across the country.
At the same time, special capacity building programmes are vigorously being pursued by students, youth and women groups, Artisans, and many others at both the Federal and State levels. The aim is to develop a digitally literate workforce for the government, equipped with the skills required to transform our economy into a knowledge-based economy.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are the main drivers of many of these programs. We, therefore, commend NITDA for partnering with the Jigawa State Government and the Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development for this laudable initiative,” the minister said
While making his remark, the Executive Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammadu Badaru the Abubakar, represented by the Commissioner of Education, Dr Lawan Yunusu Danzomo, commended the organisers of the event and assured them his administration’s total support in their future programmes.
He confessed that the issue of education is vertical and horizontal in its landscape. it is also deep, wide and very complex.
Adding that “education is our life, it is what we bank upon to relate with each other in social and religious activities. So when there is a small leak in education, there will always be a problem.”
He further urged the teachers who will take the training, to be honest, and shoulder their responsibilities.
According to him, failure to discharge duty properly is an element of dishonesty, disrespect and insubordination.
“When we talk about guidance and counselling, we are not only zeroing down to students in the classroom, almost all Nigerians need guidance and counselling because it is something that has to do with good behaviour and social relationship.
Prof Pantami also stated in his words, “Our two major religions, Islam and Christianity have given us scriptures of guidance and counselling, but we have taken different lines of existence and we have missed the road.
Therefore we have destabilised our social relationships. Like what Chinua Achebe called ‘Things Fall Apart, the centre can no longer hold.”
He continued by saying “we need to train our people on guidance and counselling and not only students so that they can become the kind of leaders we want them to be.
Teach them self-respect, honesty, entrust them with our society, our community, and they can continue to lead us,” he said.