Nigeria and indeed Africa needs an education revolution in Nigeria
The declining state of Nigeria’s educational sector, which is largely responsible for students running to foreign schools, impedes development and is a major bane to successful policies in the country, experts have said.
The experts, at a three day event in Lagos which brought together policy makers, the private sector, and civil society groups from various African countries, said the deplorable state of the nation’s educational sector is one of the major reasons policies have not been successful.
The Deputy Minister, of Communications, Science and Technology in Tanzania, January Makamba, who gave a Keynote address, said the education challenge, which cuts across Africa, should begin to be prioritised by African leaders. He said once education is addressed, other challenges would fall in place.
“Policies are important. They are good, but action is needed. We can start with education and end there. That is how important it is,” he said.
“No policy would work in Africa if we don’t get this right. We can’t continue with the way things are today. There is a need for an education revolution. The future innovation starts and ends with education. We have to change the way we teach our children”, he added.
Although the standard of education has been hit in many African countries, the impact it has in Nigeria has begun to attract global concerns, as the funds spent by Nigerians in the pursuit of education even in neighbouring West African country, Ghana, is more than the Federal Government spends on education in a year.
Recently, there has been an outcry on the huge sums of money Nigeria loses to foreign studies. Exam Ethics International, a non-governmental organisation, revealed that Nigeria spends over N1.5 trillion on students studying abroad.
In Neighbouring Ghana, Nigeria spends about N160 billion naira on Education while in the U.K., Nigerians spend over N80 billion, the group said.
Of more concern is that the majority of the population of West Africa fall in the youth category (age 15-35), a trend is projected to persist for decades.
This, naturally, should promise a demographic dividend to many countries, but experts say that is if the youth can acquire the skills they need to progress.
“Under current conditions, with few opportunities for upgrading skills, the dangers of youth restlessness that comes with idleness and frustration is very real, as in the Niger Delta and elsewhere in Nigeria,” a report by African Centre for Economic Transformation, ACET, one of the participating organisations at the event stated.
According to ACET, the structural weaknesses and limited diversification of the sub-region’s economies prevents job creation in sufficient numbers to absorb the growing annual number of young entrants.
It also believes that the low level of literacy and other skill deficiencies further deny youth the opportunity to compete in increasingly global labour markets.
Speakers at the event, sponsored by Rockfeller Foundation, an organisation which aims to achieve equitable growth by expanding opportunity for more people in places worldwide, urged that Governments should continue enacting legislation on youth education, job creation projects and a legal and financial framework to support youth self employment.
They added that the spirit of entrepreneurship among young people should also be nurtured and that further mechanism to increase youth participation will engender greater faith in the system and increase the probability of success of any initiatives.
The nation’s education system needs a total overhauling and restructuring as billions of Naira are being spent by Nigerians schooling abroad, some speakers noted.
The speakers urged the governments and the private sector to pull in more effort and resources towards the development of education. They said there is the need for an effective monitoring of the management of funds presently being allocated to the sector, as efforts should be made to improve on what is currently being allocated to the sector, with every naira accounted for.
Also, more vocational and technical education centres need to be established and the existing ones properly equipped and staffed.
They also said it is expedient that more modern learning facilities such as computers, internet web sites, and overhead projectors be provided in schools to reduce the rate at which our students ‘escape’ to other countries for educational help.
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