By Olalekan Olagunju

As the world order is reaching or experiencing consistent technological landmarks every moment, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital literacy are now integral parts of individuals, corporate or institutional existence. Like never before, the need for digital literacy has become an essential aspect of education. Digital literacy could be defined as the ability to use digital technology (computer), communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information; understand and use information in multiple formats (aspects) from a wide range of sources when presented through computers; and a person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment.

A digitally literate person should be able to use technology strategically to seek, find, collate, organize, disseminate, and evaluate information; connect and collaborate with others, produce and share original content, and use the Internet and technology tools to achieve many personal, corporate and professional goals.

In the process of digital literacy, vibrant  knowledge is acquired through instructions in the Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) in relevant curriculum globally designed and accepted as a means of placing the recipient on competitive advantage in his/her choice of career. By definition IC3 is the acronym and registered trademark of the “Internet and Computing Core Certification.” It is a global certification program that is designed to certify an individual’s digital literacy skills in line with the fundamental of computer and Internet use. It is the first computer certification to be recognized by the National Skill Standards Board (NSSB).

Certiport Incorporation, an American ICT outfit has been in the lead in IC3 since 1997. Its  main goal is to validate basic computer skills and knowledge through performance-based testing in IC3 credential; provide official Microsoft Office certification programs;  Microsoft Technology Associate certification program;  Adobe Certified Associate certification program; Autodesk Certified User program; CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals etc.

The Global Digital Literacy Council has committed years of hard work and dedication to design, create and define the new IC3 Standards. The official signing of this new IC³ Standard took place in August 2008. This significant occasion marked the next evolution in the continuous improvement and updating of the Internet and Computing Core Certification program. IC3 designed by Certiport addresses the need for a globally recognized and accepted standard of basic computing knowledge to be considered essential to academic learning and a minimum requirement for employment in various professions.

For the standard of education in Nigeria to be universally relevant and professionally competitive, it is important for all stakeholders to encourage and embrace  IC3. It should be integrated as a core programme in the school’s curricula at the secondary, tertiary and, indeed, all  levels of education in the country. IC3 certification is awarded on three separate exams. These are Computing Fundamentals, Key Applications, and Living Online. Schools in the United States of America, USA,  have integrated IC3 into vocational-technical education and secondary school education, thereby providing students to become IC3 certified upon completion of the three exams. IC3 has also gained acceptance in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America etc. in education, vocational/technical schools and colleges; and government workforce development (capacity building) program.

Based on extensive research, IC3 reflects the foundational skills needed to excel in virtually all career fields and academic pursuits requiring computer proficiency. The objectives are, to understand and use computer hardware; navigate and configure an operating system; use common computer application programs and navigate and use the Internet. The benefits of IC3 have been identified to include, industry-recognized certification for basic computer literacy; validates job knowledge and skills and provide a base-line measurement for job performance. The Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) program is designed to provide the skills needed for the basic use of computer hardware, software, networks, and the Internet. It provides a starting point for anyone interested in computer and Internet basics.

As the nation braces up to make its curricula relevant in order to meet global standard, it is expedient and urgent to equip teachers and students at all levels of education with the knowledge and skill of IC3. IC3 is used as a gateway for advancement in education, employment, or other certification programs.  As a result, it should be infused into our education system on national spectrum; every state is expected to promote its acquisition among teachers and students as essential skills in line with international standards. According to renown education technology consultant,  Dr. Niran Oyekale, IC3 will prepare the country’s graduates to be creative and  thrive in self employed. Indeed, to cope with the digital age as well  as with the challenges of the 21st century; every student should be equipped with IC3 to be able to have versatile and innovative mindsets. This is the new direction that education is taking globally and we must not be left behind.

It is in order to tap into the immense benefits which IC3 offers that the Lagos State Government has been making concerted efforts to incorporate it into the state’s education curricula. Consequently, the state’s  in EKO Project, Teachers Establishment Pension Office (TEPO), Lagos State Education Resource Centre (LASERC) and Lagos State Technical Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB) have been strategically positioned to improve and enhance teachers’ capacity on IC3 in order to place education in the state on higher pedestal. It is , however, vital that teachers and students are eager and readily prepared to take advantage of the state government’s IC3 initiatives.

In order to bring about a significant increase in teachers and students’ engagement in digital education , schools across the country need to ensure that students are aware about the frequently developing nature of the knowledge economy and that learning does not stop once basic education is completed. Equally, public and private schools need to be more equipped with IC3 related tools in order to help both teachers and students to become more adapted to the changing face of global education. It is only in doing this that the country can actually benefit from the enormous benefit possibilities of digital education.

•Olagunju is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.