On Friday 27th of July, the Civic Foundation for Innovation hit another milestone with the official launching of its mobile learning lab- Civic X; an initiative of the Foundation. Civic-X is a mobile hub transformed from a truck, into a 15-seater tech hub. Retrofitted with an LED screen, smart tabs and computers, electricity and internet facility, the truck is deployed to execute a specially designed program for women and children in rural areas. The program seeks to create access and empower women between the ages of 18-35 years old and children aged 10-16 years old in rural communities with information and skill acquisition on issues relating to healthcare, agriculture, basic ICT and social equality using technology as a vehicle. Civic Foundation launched the program in the School without Walls, a school for children at the Area 1- Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, Abuja. Here are five points and lessons learnt from the event.
Breaking Boundaries, Building Synergy
Digital revolution is reaching rural areas in many developing countries. However, the rural digital divide continues to present considerable challenges, especially in a country like Nigeria. One thing we are committed to is reducing the gap between rural areas and access to ICT and innovation in Nigeria. Rural residents remain largely marginalized; almost anyone seeking innovative products will look to the city centers and the perceived literates. Civic X allows young children dare to dream by connecting them with Leaders of thought under the mentorship series of the program. Anywhere innovation and technology thrives, community is formed. A community of change influencers and agents of development. The ripple effect of this can be as huge as total poverty elevation from our society.
Educational Continuity is Important; The IDPS were not always displaced.
One thing we learnt from the launch was that the kids in the IDP camps had proper lives before tragedy struck. Prior to becoming “displaced”, they attended and received basic and fundamental level of education, either completed or half way. There is an urgent need to build on the foundation already established in terms of education for these children and to introduce ICT education amongst those that have hitherto, not had any form of ICT education. Civic X seeks to build on this ‘foundation’ by raising the bar and exposing women and children to technology. Starting from the basics and a limited number of communities, it is our plan to scale operations, and increase the number of beneficiaries for this project.
Empowering Women Is Empowering Society
The underdevelopment or slow development of any country is directly proportional to the marginalization of women in issues of nation building and entrepreneurial development in the past. This is because statistics and research by business analysts and human resource managers have shown that women are greater maximizers of resources. Studies have shown that women channel a larger chunk of their earnings to building family and society. The place of women in any endeavor cannot be over stretched. Given their huge contributions to socio-economic development, there can be no meaningful advancement when we exclude women from governance and the process of governance. The Civic X initiative for women is designed to help women make better and more informed decisions in their day-to-day lives. The women would be taught on a wide array of topics including but not limited to; personal and financial management, civic education & participation, health, agriculture and governance.
Harness the Energy of the Young
The energy and excitement with which the kids learnt was amazing. This energy is an untapped resource. This energy must be channeled into productive engagements. As a law of science, energy cannot be destroyed. We can convert it into something impactful or we can watch these kids viciously engage in social crimes and vices. Education and inculcation of societal values at a young age reduces the chances of kids engaging in such vices. Moreover, growing in these camps and rural areas without adequate guidance exposes them to a wide range of vices. Educating and empowering these kids with skills that can be commercialized will have a positive ripple effect on the rural areas over the years because it will hugely reduce crime rate while boosting development.
Make the Move and Get the Push
There is a general notion that government is not supportive of indigenous initiatives. The launch of the Civic X proved contrary. We got the wife of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to engage the kids in a skype call and watch them learn. Three days after which she invited two of the students to the Aso Vila for an outing and practically spent her day with the kids. They were treated to lunch and spent quality time with her Excellency. At Civic, we are forced to believe that what the government is looking for is a value proposition, same as what every top social impact investor is looking for.