By Ebunoluwa Sessou
As part of efforts to engage students positively during the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual classroom, an online programme for our Digital Inclusion was recently launched for both academic and vocational skills.
Speaking on the online package Adeboye Adegoke, Digital Rights Program Manager of the Paradigm Initiative, lamented the impact that COVID-19 is having on our own lives and those of millions of others.
Adding that, more than ever, the importance that the Internet plays during this uncertain time, serving as a lifeline that enables children to continue learning; families and friends to stay connected; and vital public health information to keep circulating cannot be over-emphasized.
According to him, “Access to the Internet and its solutions can create healthier and safer communities, reduce vulnerabilities, and help build the resilience communities need to navigate this pandemic and emerge better prepared in the future.
“With this, our response to the COVID 19 pandemic is to move all our Digital Inclusion processes and activities online, working remotely, and leveraging on virtual tools to engage our audience (students).
“Working with youth from underserved communities at this time that the future of work is online can be challenging but we had to give it a positive response to ensure our target audience is not left behind.
“Virtual classrooms for our Digital Inclusion programs The LIFE (Life Skills, ICTs, Financial literacy, and Entrepreneurship) Program is our pilot program, designed to train and expose young people in underserved communities to digital skills and technologies.
“The team is using creative ways to continue to engage the students by making use of basic tools like WhatsApp, Facebook, and the likes. – The team educates the students and their parents on why they need to embrace the new development and seek their support so they won’t be left out in this new development”, he said.
Also, Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative explained that “The team will continue to relearn better tools and ways to engage the youth (students). Recently, we introduced the students to Google Classroom – a free web service developed by Google.
“And going forward, we are working on building a mobile app that will accommodate the program’s training contents (modules) and activities. With this, the LIFE program moves online fully. The goal is to provide services that promote and enable distance learning for our students.
‘Also, it is quite difficult to do some of the policy interventions we do. With physical meetings suspended and courts processes halted and access to legislative houses restricted, we have embraced these realities and are forging ahead.
We have been monitoring and documenting the concerning cases of human and digital rights violations since the outset of the COVID19 pandemic.
“Through our Africa-wide and global community convened through the NetRights Africa coalition mailing list, we have been collating incidents of violations during the pandemic, and also offering support to community members.
“Digital Rights Violation Reporting Platform Work has now started on a platform that would allow people to report cases of digital rights violations. The platform will serve to collate cases of violations across the continent and it will allow us and our partners to coordinate best responses.”
Our goal is to ensure that no violation goes under the radar and also to create a safe space for citizens to report violations without fear and intimidation. We will continue to provide more information on this as the platform development continues.
“We have been working with partners in Nigeria and Kenya to work on a draft regulation that countries and states can adopt in response to the COVID19 pandemic. Our role in these partnerships is to ensure these drafts conform to International human rights standards and those interventions by authorities in respective states or countries leverage digital opportunities to ease communication, learning, and other interventions.