Federal government says it is considering a new national policy for zero rating on educational websites to allow consumption of content at no cost, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, on the education sector .
Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said this during a speech at a webinar hosted by Lead Inspire Network and monitored in Abuja.
The theme of the webinar was “Improving Virtual Learning and the Challenges of Internet Penetration in Nigeria”.
Pantami, represented by Dr Usman Gambo, director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said the policy would contain appropriate incentives for mobile network operators and Internet service providers.
The Minister agreed that sufficient Internet access was essential for the development of an information society and that the government was also striving to increase broadband penetration from its current level.
“Currently, broadband penetration is 40.18% and the plan is to reach 70% by 2025. This is the goal we have set ourselves in the Nigerian national broadband plan.
“This will be very beneficial for the education sector and we will focus more on putting in place the right content, infrastructure, learning and teaching capacities,” he said.
He added that few agencies under the ministry had established digital centers, capacity training centers, e-accessibility centers, school knowledge centers, e-libraries, ICT hubs and innovation parks. across the country to propel broadband penetration.
“In just one year, we have deployed more than 200 of these centers across the country and they are mostly located in rural areas, equipped with at least 25 computers, backup power and service. Free internet.
“In addition to providing free internet services, the centers also serve as innovation hubs and learning centers for the local community,” Pantami said.
He said the NITDA has issued a framework and guidelines for public internet access to regulate the government’s approach to deepen internet penetration and close the digital divide.
Professor Umar Danbata, executive vice president of the Nigeria Communications Commission, said COVID-19 has created a new level of education that requires a new approach.
Represented by Dr Henry Nkemadu, director of the commission, Danbata acknowledged that the high cost of the right of way, multiple taxation, operating expenses and the economic downturn had affected internet penetration, but reiterated that the government was putting measures in place to alleviate the challenges.
Mr Sope Afolayan, Co-Founder, Lead Inspire Network, said the event aimed to provide equal access to children at all levels and to reorient the thinking of policymakers on the need to see the acquisition of education beyond the four walls of the classroom. ( NOPE)