A paper delivered by Mr. Ibukun-Olu Taiwo Ipinmoye, Leadership Coach and Executive Director, Nestle Nigeria Plc at the Lagos Anglican Seminary Clergy Workshop on January 20, 2022.
Let me start by appreciating your lordships, the organizers of the 2022 Lagos metropolitan clergy retreat, and all the highly revered clergymen for inviting me. I want to thank God for the great work you are doing in the vineyard of God. May God bless and prosper your ministry in Jesus name.
We are looking into repositioning Nigeria's formal education as a step toward economic empowerment. With nearly three decades of experience in the manufacturing sector, I've gained some insight into Nigeria's education system, and the picture isn't promising. Students are completing their education but are not financially empowered. They are unable to attract the appropriate types and levels of jobs, and as a result, the country's economy is in shambles. There is a need for concrete action on the part of all stakeholders, which is why today's presentation to look at ways to revamp the education system is a welcome development.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world". When we apply this statement to our immediate surroundings, we can see that Nelson Mandela was correct, as the presence or absence of quality education portends either good or bad for the economy. According to Saleh Bature (1), the Almajiri education system in northern Nigeria is a demographic time bomb waiting to explode. This, in my opinion, is an example of poor education being used as a weapon of economic destruction.
Education is the process of imparting knowledge in order to gain relevant skills and experience. Knowledge is the input, and acquired skills and experience are the output. A skill is the ability to perform an activity competently. The whole essence of getting an education is to be able to make a living. God gave Adam the knowledge he needed to care for and guard the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 (NLT). We can say the God Almighty empowered Adam as an example for us to follow. In Jesus' parable of the workers in the vineyard, the kingdom of heaven is compared to a landowner who hires people for a fair wage (Matthew 20:1-9). As a result, people are supposed to be compensated for their services.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is the ultimate source of wisdom, understanding, and skills, and that God allows assimilation to occur during the learning process. Educating without a reference to God is pointless.
Exodus 31:3 “I have filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, making him highly skilled, resourceful, and knowledgeable in all trades”
Education has enormous value. Everyone has the right to a high-quality education, which is why it is so important for social and economic development. Education fosters gender equality, promotes peace, and boosts self-esteem. Every parish priest rejoices when members of his congregation are prosperous and gainfully employed.
Let us examine the Nigerian education SWOT analysis to better understand how to reposition it to benefit the teeming population of Nigerian youths.
SWOT ANALYSIS: STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS
We cannot discuss the future of our youth without discussing their education, because education is their future, well-being, and prosperity. Our future is in great danger, and we must rise to the occasion to save it. In the absence of education, hatred flourishes, intolerance reigns, unsanitary practices flourish, and violence is celebrated.
Beginning in primary school, there are secret societies and occult groups. This is not limited to public schools; we are also seeing disturbing trends in Christian-nominated schools. Some students are introduced to drugs and prostitution in their boarding schools and campuses.
The rise of Yahoo and Yahoo Plus, which were warmly received by impoverished society and, in some cases, parents, is rapidly eroding the value of education. Many young people wonder why they should go through the rigors of studying when there are shortcuts to success.
In 2022, the average Nigerian will be poorer than he was ten years ago. The population is rapidly growing, while job opportunities are shrinking. Nigeria's population was 122 million in 2000 and became 214 million in December 2021.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, 38.5 percent of Nigeria's labor force aged 15 to 24 years was unemployed (2), a figure that is expected to rise further in the coming years.
With all of the factors mentioned above, the country requires a paradigm shift toward the development of a better education system. If we are aware of our weaknesses, we can work on them and turn them into strengths.
Let us examine the weaknesses in our educational system in order to reveal our opportunities.
Poor funding has resulted in the deterioration of public school infrastructure at all levels; classrooms are typically overcrowded, with up to fifty or more students receiving instruction in a classroom designed for only thirty. According to data on the number of available classrooms, there is a 230 thousand classroom deficit. There are 13 thousand public schools in Nigeria, and the facilities available vary greatly depending on ownership. More facilities, such as libraries, computers, playing fields, and laboratories, were provided by private institutions. Due to dwindling funds, teachers are paid far too little. A teacher's salary in some private schools is "pea nuts." And a South African professor earns four times as much as his Nigerian counterpart.
Higher education graduates are ill-prepared to demonstrate the necessary skills and competencies for employment. The majority of such positions are filled by first-class graduates with exceptional intellectual capacity or students from private universities with a strong emphasis on theory and practice. As a result of too many labor union strikes, time spent in most public institutions is insufficient for qualitative learning.
Professor Joel Babatunde Babalola (3), a Professor of Education, best captured the greatest calamity to befall Nigerian education in his inaugural lecture, when he said, "Nigerian universities produce tankers rather than thinkers." Furthermore, he stated, "Nigerian graduates are unable to interpret life situations based on the knowledge they have acquired. When they are confronted with problems outside of their comfort zones, they become disoriented, as if they never attended university."
Though it is a welcome development that teaching resources are never in short supply, the flip side is that anyone can become a teacher without the necessary qualifications. It was in the news a few years ago when a sitting governor decided to test a schoolteacher himself, and the outcome was, predictably, disappointing. Due to low pay, working as a schoolteacher becomes a means of survival, and the majority of these neighborhood private school teachers are not properly trained and calibrated for qualitative teaching.
As a result, there is a scarcity of qualified teachers. According to professor Olusegun Ajiboye (4) Nigeria has over two million qualified and registered teachers for primary and secondary schools. He went on to say that Nigeria requires over 250,000 teachers each year.
Despite the fact that the picture appears bleak after assessing the system's threats and weaknesses, all hope is not lost. The following considerations, which are actually opportunities, could, in my opinion, be game changers in harnessing the value of good, quality education for the benefit of the country.
According to history, the Greeks and Romans only educated the elite. Martin Luther, a priest at the time, called for a reform of the educational system during the Dark Ages in 1520. He wrote "I believe that no work more worthy of a pope or emperor than a thorough reform of the universities”. (5)
The government will continue to prioritize limited resources, and the education sector may receive little funding. There must be a method of managing the few funds that have been allocated, as corruption may result in the funds ending up in individuals' pockets. To improve the functionality of local schools, the school management board must be restructured, and all community stakeholders, including the PTA, must collaborate.
Old students' associations have recently been assisting some institutions in reclaiming their "lost glory."
Similarly, the government should examine the regulating body in charge of overseeing the approval and operation of all private institutions in the country, particularly those at the elementary and secondary school levels. A consolidated and uniform governance scheme for their approval and operation is required.
The teaching method must evolve by eliminating outdated curriculum that does not support 21st-century development. Competency-based certificates are the preferred option. We must develop a skilled workforce education program based on the needs of our industry. Individuals will gain skills as a result of this technical education program, and a certificate will be issued upon completion of such programs.
Global job opportunities are becoming more competitive and technical. Students must excel in both academics and technical skills in order to be successful in their chosen field.
Non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and individuals must collaborate with the government to fund scientific research if our dear country is to become technologically established. Without private funding in the form of research grants, no nation can thrive on the wings of technological breakthrough. As things stand, the burden on the government will not go away in the near future, and we must all work together to keep our education system from collapsing. PPP is the only way out.
Because most of our children do not know where their interests lie at the start of their education, educational institutions should hire professional career guidance and counseling staff. Furthermore, parents should guide, rather than force, their children to choose what they want to study. If a student receives first place in secondary school, he should not be forced to study medicine and may prefer to pursue a career as a musician. Such students will benefit from career counseling and guidance.
It is time for us to rise up and create a strong, viable, and high-quality education system. Education is the key that unlocks the door to prosperity and abundance for all of us.
I'll end with another Nelson Mandela quotation.
A good mind combined with a good heart is always a formidable combination. However, when that is combined with a literate tongue or pen, you have something truly unique. Education is a powerful driver of personal development. Education allows a peasant's daughter to become a doctor, a mineworker's son to become mine manager, and a farm worker's child to become the president of a great nation.
God bless the church, our youth, teachers, and Nigeria.
Thank you for your time.
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