Advancing Digital Literacy for Girls in Rural Communities – Splendour's Changemaker Journey

Splendour Kalu - Ashoka Young Changemaker 2022
Source: Splendour Kalu

Splendour Kalu is a young changemaker dedicated to empowering students in rural areas of Nigeria, especially young girls, with digital skills. Through his initiative, Communities Will Connect, Splendour is bridging the digital literacy gap by providing underserved children the opportunity to learn the basics of coding, master computer skills and become changemakers in their own communities, leveraging technological innovation to thrive in a rapidly changing world.  

Changemaker Journey 

In Nigeria, a number of public and private primary and secondary schools still do not have functional computer labs and as such, some students do not have regular access to computers. Even though digital skills are necessary to thrive in the 21st century, many young Nigerians in rural areas have not been given the opportunity to cultivate their digital literacy and basic computer skills. 

‘‘Imagine that 70% of the entire population in the United States do not own computers or lack access to technology and digital skills. Would companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple exist?” - Splendour Kalu 

Splendour developed a passion for addressing the skills gap after attending tech events including Google Developers Fest, Google Business Group, and TeenHack 2019. He realized that in order to develop young leaders, there needed to be an urgent catalyzation of sustainable digital literacy across Africa. 

On one occasion, Splendour saw a six-year-old girl developing games using a software called Scratch. He was overtaken with surprise by this unusual sight. In that moment, Splendour wondered to himself: how was she able to learn these skills? How can I empower young people in my community to be like this little girl?

After the hackathon, Splendour looked to upskill himself through a one-month internship at a technology hub, where he learnt web development. By developing these skills, Splendour felt empowered to take action. 

Communities Will Connect 

With the support from allies, including his parents, Splendour was able to turn his dream and vision for the community into a reality. So began Communities Will Connect. 

Communities Will Connect aims to awaken the spirit of innovation in students. The organization’s primary objective is to empower primary and secondary students between the ages of 10 and 16 years – particularly young girls - from under-served communities with digital skills. Secondly, the initiative aims to instill students with the desire to pursue careers in computer science and technology, ultimately giving them the opportunity to solve real-world problems through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). 

“Starting to take action made me feel overjoyed. As small as I was then, I was contributing in my own little way to solve this problem of tech illiteracy that ravaged my community” - Splendour Kalu 

Communities Will Connect leverages the network and resources of its team members and partner organizations to deliver their programs. The initiative was kickstarted at Best Intellectuals Model School, where instructors taught students basic computer skills. Now, through both online and onsite programs, Communities Will Connect teaches coding, graphic design and more to young people across Africa. Splendour and his team have gone on school tours, providing workshops at no cost to rural primary and secondary schools with no access to computers.  

In order to ensure the sustainability of their programs, team members would also go visit these rural schools periodically after the program to continue helping students build their digital skills. In addition, Communities will Connect finds opportunities and resources for past participants of their programs to utilize the skills they have learnt. 

At present, the Organization currently has five dedicated team members who act as instructors, facilitate the curation of content, opportunities posted on their blog (Daily Global Opportunities) and design event materials. 

An Everyone a Changemaker World  

Splendour continues to be an advocate of access to digital skills for all, irrespective of their location or societal class. He hopes that through Communities Will Connect, he will equip young Africans with the digital skills required to offer global solutions and compete globally with peers across continents.   

“You are not too small to start making a change. You don't need a trillion dollars to start doing something.” - Splendour Kalu