Meeting the unmet need for digital skills

Before attending a digital skills training last year, Allan Khunga aged 23 of Simbakalata Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mwaulambya in Chitipa District did not have any knowledge of computer usage.

While he could identify a computer if put in front of him, asking him to point at what some people would consider simple like a computer mouse or keyboard was something he could hardly do.

Just like thousands of Malawians, Khunga, a teacher trainee at Karonga Teachers Training College, currently on teaching practicals at Ilema Primary School in Chitipa, never stepped foot in a computer class from the first grade of his primary education way through to college.

This was not by choice as he had interest to have basic computer knowledge. However, in Malawi, being in a stuation he was in is normal. It is not surprising to see a person reaching Khunga’s level of education without computer skills, as computer lessons are inaccessible in majority of Governments’ learning institutions.

“All along, I wanted to learn basic computer skills but opportunities were not available. My passion to acquire computer skills was because of the knowledge I had on how important computer skills are in the world we are living today,” Khunga said.

Nevertheless, thanks to Mzuzu Entrepreneur Hub, Khunga is now computer literate. Khunga and 348 other young people are products of last year’s digital skills trainings that targeted youths in Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Mzimba, Mzuzu City, Nkhata Bay, Likoma and Chidzumulu Islands.

The digital skills training is part of a Digital Malawi Project, which is a World Bank funded initiative through the Malawi Government under the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC).

Through the project, Mzuzu E-Hub supports underserved (women, children and youths) people to move to independent living on a small scale through access to information, digital skills and provision of platforms for active participation.

When an opportunity presented itself to Khunga, to gain the skills he had always aspired to have, he did not hesitate to apply and was eventually, selected to attend a six-week intensive training, where he focused on end user computing and graphic designing.

He attest that since the training, the skills he gained are helping him a lot in his work.

“For example, some learners understand better through illustrations and pictures and with the knowledge I have, I am able to do that with ease,” Khunga said.

“I am able to prepare some pictorials to better help my learners grasp my lessons. In addition, I am now able to use programs like Microsoft Word, which makes it easier for me to type examinations. I am able to do all these things with the skills I acquired in just three weeks,” he said.

Presently, Khunga would like to have an opportunity for another training, as he wants to further, sharpen his digital skills. He feels the three weeks were not enough to grasp everything since it was his first time learning a computer.

“The world is changing and we are living in a digital world as such digital skills are very important regardless of one’s career, without such skills I believe I will be lagging behind, that is why I want to know more,” he said.

As a person who recently attained digital skills because he lacked access to these skills for all these years, Khunga pleads with the Government and different stakeholders to ensure that they work on making these skills accessible to the youth.

“Digital skills have the potential to develop the country as it offers more opportunities. Therefore, I urge Government and other stakeholders to work on ensuring that digital skills trainings are, introduced to youths in schools at a very tender age,” Khunga said.