It is common to hear parents say they pray that their children become healthier, happier and more prosperous than they are. What this means is that their children would have access to opportunities that have eluded the parents.
Since these parents cannot immediately change their environments and current fortunes, they hope that their children will figure this out. Parents living in rural areas, dream of sending their children to urban centres where they believe opportunities abound. Parents living in urban centres, dream of either sending their children abroad or ensuring these children are ready to take C-suite roles in multinational companies that have pitched tents in Nigeria.
For both parents in rural areas and their counterparts in urban locations, the difference between points A and B, point A being the current state of affairs and point B’s desired future outcome for their children is knowledge and skills.
Knowledge and skills are the products of education and politicians largely determine what happens in schools and by extension the kind of knowledge and skills that students acquire through educational reforms that are in sync with global realities. This is enough reason to vote right at the presidential and national assembly elections in five days and the governorship and state houses of assembly in 19 days.
What is each candidate offering that will make the future of your child better through educational reforms?
This matters because scaling up alone will not improve learning results at a large scale. It requires paying attention to the complicated political and technical issues that influence educational improvements.
Studies show that governments whose decision-making and messaging are influenced by information and learning metrics are more likely to carry out effective reforms that lead to better learning. These measures create incentives to improve local school systems and teacher quality, and also encourage the use of data to support the need for reforms, and establish public accountability through better-informed citizens. Accountability measures may include national or international tests, evaluations, literacy rates, or school rankings.
Countries that are most successful in implementing and maintaining reforms consider the requirements of different stakeholders at various levels of government and civil society. Even when leaders are successful in enacting a policy change, reforms are difficult to implement when a crucial group, such as teachers’ unions, are not won over from the start.
A strong communication plan is necessary. The government has to assume responsibility for the policy reform to prevent conflicting interest groups from spreading false information. Focused and adaptable improvements are the most successful. Policies are successful if they have a clear purpose and could be modified or completely rethought over time. Effective improvements do not always depend on charismatic management (though this could help).
Nigeria faces enormous educational challenges that require clear political leadership. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in its latest global data, stated Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children. This is almost the population of Mali, a West African Country of 21.90 million people and about 10 times the population of Guinea Bissau another West African country of 2.061 people.
The lack of safety in schools in the northeast of Nigeria is compounding this situation. Every Nigerian ought to care about out-of-school children because every child has the right to education and an illiterate child is an unacceptable loss and a potential danger to society.
A larger concern is that countries and their economies must compete with one another in order to benefit from globalisation and international trade. While a single nation rarely specialises in a particular industry, economically successful countries will hold competitive and comparative advantages over other economies.
It starts with educational reforms that help a country develop comparative advantages. Nigeria is about 213 million people strong. This is a large force good but requires foresighted political leadership to harness through educational reforms and only your vote can make this happen.