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Digital Literacy: A Necessity For National Development

By Matthew Alugbin
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Nigeria was taken aback when Covid-19 was announced as a pestilence that threatens the health of the world. With the first case confirmed in Nigeria on 27th February 2020, the number of casualties has risen with worries on rising community transfer. As countries of the world battle to contain the spread, the basic issue is to examine how Nigerians, most especially, students, researchers and academics have been able to respond to the challenge. During the second week of experiencing the pandemic, governments at various levels ordered all secondary schools and universities to shut down to curtail the spread of the virus. People developed various coping mechanisms during this period. For workers, they were also told to work from home as best as possible.

To start with, the lockdown has increased the level at which people engage in interactions on social media recently. The reality has also forced many to work from home and this tells a lot about the future of works and studies in the next few years. It has raised questions on why one would waste productive time in traffic jams when one can engage in the same activity from the comfort of one's home. Many have been forced to consider the advantage of working remotely.

However, learning and teaching from home are difficult activities for students and teachers in this part of the world. The 'work-from-home' suggestion poses a great challenge for many reasons. Uninterrupted power supply and access to data connection are vital for a researcher in the present age. However, the reality in Nigeria negates the expectations that a 'work-from-home' should provide. How do you explain overpriced data bundles coupled with an unstable power supply? This is what happens where a population of over 200 million depends on 3,800 megawatts.

One thing is very clear – the 'sit-at-home' order has exposed the failure of the Nigerian government. It has shown their inefficiency and collapse of social infrastructures in Nigeria. Just as inadequate and underfunded public health infrastructure has affected effective response to Covid-19, people have realized that those basic infrastructures needed for survival are not there. Only countries with topnotch technology and effective cyber-security control are exploring the advantages of remote learning and working. The world has moved beyond traditional literacy to digital literacy and Nigeria is lagging. For digital literacy and media education to thrive, the basic infrastructures necessary for human development must be present. When this pandemic is over, I hope people will come to realize that the world has changed and we have to face this reality.

Matthew Alugbin is a Postgraduate Student, Department of English, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria ..Email: [email protected]