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Agenda setting: Top 5 hard education nuts to crack for Tinubu

Agenda setting is top priority. Several problems have weighed down Nigeria’s push to educate its large population of children and youth. Here, we outline five of these hard nuts that President Tinubu’s government has to crack as soon as possible. We have, as usual, shown that this is possible and directed attention to how Singapore tackles its human capital development agenda.
Nigeria's out-of-school-children
Nigeria's out-of-schoolchildren Credit: People's Gazette
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Education in Nigeria suffers from some known perennial issues. Successive governments have attempted to deal with some of them with various ranges of success and failure. The hunt for solutions has become even more urgent and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu requires a team of competent education professionals to find them.

Educators, education activists and others who understand that education is the bedrock of individual achievement and societal development have written volumes to address these problems. This is why it has become important to restate these problems and contribute to setting an agenda for education at the beginning of Tinubu’s government.

Globalisation and international trade require countries and their economies to compete with one another. Economically successful countries will hold competitive and comparative advantages over other economies, though a single country rarely specialises in a particular industry.

A typical developed economy will include various industries with different competitive advantages and disadvantages in the global marketplace. The education and training of a country’s workforce are major factors in determining how well the country’s economy will perform.

This means that differences in education and training levels are significant factors that separate developed and developing countries. Although other factors are certainly in play, such as geography and available resources, having better-trained workers creates spillovers throughout the economy and positive externalities.

An externality can have a positive effect on an economy due to a well-trained workforce. In other words, all companies benefit from the external factor of having a skilled labour pool from which to hire employees. In some cases, the highly skilled labour force might be concentrated in a specific geographic region. As a result, similar businesses may cluster in the same geographic region because of those skilled workers.

Read also: Day of the African Child: Born to Learn

Schools for 10000 pupils in 20 Nigerian villages - GlobalGiving

Photo credit: Global Giving

Singapore

Singapore is a small Southeast Asian city-state, with a limited number of natural resources but it has demonstrated that investing in human capital can have a high payoff and that nothing is impossible. Its example inspires others to redouble their own efforts, not to replicate the model in its entirety necessarily but to take full advantage of the various lessons that can be learned from the arc of its successful development strategy.

Many elements of the Singapore model are today considered conventional wisdom. However, while many developing countries have attempted to pursue similar strategies, few have fully succeeded in achieving similar results. Singapore is the not focus of this article, yet offers a shining example.

The island city-state has become a case study. Scholars have examined the policies, programmes and processes Singapore has pursued from 1960 to the present to pull ahead of other economies.

Several factors have undergirded Singapore’s successful implementation of education and health strategies. First, collecting and analysing data to harness them for policymaking purposes. Second, able and incorruptible leaders who set high standards for themselves and others and have lived up to these standards.

Third, Singapore created a meritocratic and largely non-politicised bureaucracy that could strategise, make far-sighted policies, and implement them in a coordinated way. Coordinated implementation is key to delivering results. Fourth, national leadership-maintained harmony in a multi-ethnic society and proactively defused tensions. Fifth, Singapore attracted immigrants, both skilled and unskilled.

Sixth, leadership mobilise domestic resources which played a critical role in financing infrastructure, housing, and other vital investments. Lastly, Singapore has never been comfortably resting on its laurels and has always been open to ideas, eager to learn, and ready to innovate and leverage new technologies.

Clean Water & Sanitation for Schools in Nigeria - GlobalGiving

Photo credit: Global Giving

Nigeria

Five critical problems stand in the way of enabling transformative, quality education for the greatest number of Nigerians. These issues require urgent measures to address because they are at the heart of education.

Access to Quality Education: Despite efforts to increase access to education, many children in Nigeria still lack access to quality education. This issue is particularly prevalent in rural areas and among marginalised groups, resulting in a significant education gap.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged five to 14 are not in school, despite the fact that elementary education is free and compulsory, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently put this figure at about 20 million. Only 61 per cent of children aged six to 11 attend primary school on a regular basis, while 35.6 per cent of children from 36 to 59 months receive early childhood education.

Poor Infrastructure: Inadequate infrastructure, including a lack of classrooms, libraries, and basic amenities like electricity and clean water, poses a major challenge to the education system. Insufficient infrastructure hampers the learning environment and affects the overall quality of education.

Teacher Quality and Training: Nigeria needs more qualified and well-trained teachers. There is a need for comprehensive teacher training programmes to enhance the quality of instruction. Attracting and retaining skilled teachers in remote and underserved areas remains a persistent challenge.

Josiah Ajiboye, registrar, of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria has said more than 50 per cent of those teaching in primary and secondary schools nationwide are still not qualified to be in the classroom.

Outdated Curriculum and Teaching Methods: The curriculum and teaching methods in Nigerian schools often do not align with current educational needs and global standards. There is a need for curriculum reform to make education more relevant, practical, and responsive to the demands of the 21st century.

Aare Afe Babalola, founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti state, and an education philanthropist has constantly made a case for industry-driven curriculum design and implementation. “The first problem that I identify with each curriculum taught in Nigerian schools today at all levels is that they are largely outdated,” Babalola said. “While there have been several attempts at curriculum reforms at all levels, none of these have been successful in lifting the education fortunes of the country.”

Funding and Budgetary Constraints: Insufficient funding for education remains a significant issue in Nigeria. The education sector often receives a lower share of the national budget, which limits the resources available for improving infrastructure, teacher salaries, and educational resources.

The Nigerian education sector has been poorly funded for so long. It gets a meagre allocation from the Federal Government budget annually. From 2014 to 2022, the sector got the highest allocation of 10.7 per cent of the budgeted total expenditure in 2015. The funding of the Nigerian education sector falls below the recommended international standard of 15-20 per cent of the national budgeted expenditure by UNESCO.

Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive approach that involves increased investment in education, policy reforms, infrastructure development, teacher training and retention, and curriculum redesign. By addressing these challenges, Nigeria can work towards providing equitable and quality education for all its citizens.

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Folaranmi Ajayi
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11 months ago

This is comprehensive and detailed.

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