By Michael Emeka Ilouno
Providing sound education for the young population is a critical means of ensuring a better Nigeria and it is high time the government and other stakeholders revamped the education sector. Year 2020 introduced a challenge to education in form of COVID and nations are starting to adjust to the scourge. This is the time, more than ever, to give the educational sector the attention it needs so we can measure up to today’s global world.
Institutions world over are now under increasing pressure to equip students with broader set of competencies that go beyond even subject specific knowledge. To re-iterate, it is time Nigeria moved along with the rest of the world. This article discusses the major components that need to be worked upon to create an effective educational sector in Nigeria.
Funding is the live wire that propels the educational sector towards achieving success. Countries around the world have made it a priority to deliberately and intentionally invest in the educational sector. Sweden for example, devotes 7.3 per cent of its GDP to education. This funding goes to both public and private institutions.
South Africa spent 16.7 per cent of total government resources on basic education in 2019. The country spends more than 20 per cent of its resources on education today. This is in direct contrast to what entails in Nigeria which has not increased budgetary allocation to education pass 10 per cent since 1991. We don’t have enough resources allocated to our educational sector and to make matters worse, the little allocation to the sector is not well managed. I will explain further; Look at our basic education. The universal basic education (UBE) programme was introduced in the early 90’s to provide access to quality basic education throughout Nigeria. Now, the federal government sets aside 2 per cent of the consolidated revenue fund (CRF) which is then distributed to all 36 states including the FCT to support basic education. It gets more interesting.
The universal basic education commission (UBEC) provides N500 million to each state per annum to improve infrastructure at the basic education level. However, access to this fund is based on the states providing counterpart funding of N500million. This means there should be at least N1billion intervention fund available to every state per annum to improve basic education. The assumption is that state governments will grab this opportunity to improve basic education. Well, this has not been the case because except for Lagos and a very few other states, the will is just not there. In fact, the UBEC almost always has to plead with states to come access the money. As at 2021, the UBEC said it still had over N41 Billion in grants as states refuse to access the fund.
Truth is, they rather are interested in just taking the grants without providing counterpart funding and we know how that may end. Talk of misplaced priorities!
It is time those in charge understood that there will be more peace in Nigeria if the number of out of home children is reduced. It is indeed time for some soul searching.
There is a need for educational institutions in Nigeria to adapt new technology if we want to be competitive in today’s world. Technology has become an integral part of most students’ learning world over. Information technology is beneficial, in that, it induces scientific, economic, technological and global awareness. It also promotes inventive thinking, develops effective communication which eventually leads to high productivity. Truth be told, we need to prepare our wards for the real world and students stand a chance in the employment market having been exposed to new technologies.
In addition to this, improvement of teachers’ professional development cannot be over emphasised because technology will never replace a knowledgeable teacher. You cannot innovate without knowledge! As stated earlier our schools now must exist to equip students with broader set of competencies that go beyond even subject specific knowledge.
Adopt and encourage group work among students as this gives them the opportunity to develop team work skills e.g. Allocate tasks amongst members of group, acquire management and communication skills. This typically involves them working in teams.
Flexible learning and working options – Adopt learning options that fit within student’s busy schedules. Students garner vast wealth of experience by working full time or part time as they learn. Implement student Career Pathway- Partner with firms to connect students with employers, internships, and virtual job interviews and training
In the bid to meet today’s world demand, there is a need to continuously revise the curriculum for instructional programmes. Determining what these demands are, how to address them, and how to revise the established curriculum is a challenging and critical task. This demand for change to meet the needs of a 21st century educational programme is challenging even for the best educational leaders because society’s values and needs change over time.
The world has turned into a global village where new ideas and information are pouring in a constant stream. It is, therefore, imperative to update our curricula by introducing the recent developments in the relevant fields of knowledge. However, the curriculum should be revised regularly to keep the students updated with the current affairs. Sticking to the conventional curriculum will not yield desired results.
We also need to explore a business–education partnership. This is an involvement between schools and business-industry, unions, governments, and community organisations. These partnerships can be established to establish goals, and to construct a plan of action for the achievement of those goals. An educational institution can forge a mutually beneficial relationship with any number of businesses and can have other stakeholders including parents, students, and community organisations. This type of relationship helps both parties achieve their desired learning outcomes by sharing values and resources.
In conclusion, there is no disputing the fact that the Nigerian educational system requires a total restructuring which is needed to improve the performance of both primary and tertiary institutions. Nigeria entered the 21st century unprepared to compete in the ever-evolving global economy/world- where growth will be based on knowledge.
It is time to make conscious effort to build qualitative and durable educational system so Nigeria can stand up to be counted especially in the post COVID world.
• Michael Emeka Ilouno is CEO, Next Generation Global Association.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.