Student Loan: Inuwa Advises NELFUND To Consider Accommodating Short Courses On Digital Skills

The Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), the administrator of the current administration’s student loan initiative programme, has been advised by Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to take into consideration accommodating Nigerians who wish to enrol in short courses that will equip them with digital skills. This is because the world is shifting from certificate acquisition to skill acquisition.

Inuwa announced this in Abuja while hosting a delegation from NELFUND, which Mr. Akintunde Sawyer, the Executive Secretary, led. According to Inuwa, this will enable individuals to acquire highly sought-after international talents, thereby positioning Nigeria as a hub for brain export.

Meeting objectives included learning, working together, and showing NITDA a demonstration of the NELFUND Portal to solicit feedback.

He said that since nobody ever succeeds in isolation, it’s necessary to recognise and collaborate with the five essential ecosystem stakeholders. He listed these players as the government, corporate entities, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and higher education institutions.

He said, “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.”

DG NITDA Kashifu Inuwa presenting the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan(SRAP 2.0) to the Executive Secretary NELFUND Akintunde Sawyer at the Agency’s Headquarters in Abuja.

While acknowledging that NITDA is working with the Federal Ministry of Education to review the curriculum of tertiary institutions to meet, Inuwa 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.”

He stated that venture capitalists should be encouraged to invest, as Nigeria’s technology ecosystem attracts more than 30 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

He said, “70 per cent 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.”

The NITDA boss commended the work put into developing the NELFUND portal as he said the portal should be made mobile-friendly as many people will access the portal through their mobile phones.

He further stated, “We can organise a user acceptance test to check vulnerability to ensure that it is okay. I also want to advise that you carry the Data Protection Compliance Test to ensure you are complying with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR.)”

Inuwa 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 Mr Sawyer said the initiative intends to connect as many Nigerians as possible to the fund to obtain tertiary education and pay back after their one-year mandatory National Youth Service programme.

He 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.”

The ES said they have come to be challenged by NITDA to do better, collaborate, and learn from the Agency.