Education today has taken a turn quite far away from the way that it was organised and delivered in the past. Traditional theoretical teaching and learning may be losing its relevance in today’s fast paced world. Educational systems and curricular in developed countries in particular are beginning to see the criticality of this and are therefore responding by adopting new strategies that should be relevant and directly applicable to the new and evolving “everyday life”.
It is extremely important to realise that education plays a key role in determining the value of the workforce, and therefore the value of any organisation, state or country. If educational systems are not strong enough to provide the relevant skills, where would this leave us as a nation in terms of employment, development and even morality?
If people do not have the skills to be employed, they will not get jobs, not just because the jobs are not available but also because these people themselves are unemployable. If skilled labour is not available for the jobs that are available then efficiency, effectiveness and development cannot occur. If efficiency, effectiveness and development cannot occur, there will be a huge deficit in returns, thereby leading to setbacks and frustration which in turn could lead to anti-social behaviour and economic losses. If people are not continuously exposed to environments of adequate standards and values, they will not have a good enough understanding of what value actually is. Unfortunately, people cannot give what they do not have.
We in Nigeria are beginning to experience the frustrations caused by these deficiencies described above. They reflect in almost every aspect of our lifestyles, and as a nation, we are beginning to wail for help. There is a link between all of this and the products of our educational systems, people.
I find it rather alarming that graduates of universities in the country lack basic literacy skills. Reviewing Curriculum Vitae alone can be an excruciating process, not to talk of interviewing candidates.
One example I can give as an employer of labour in a medium sized enterprise is my experience in the recruitment process for candidates for various positions. I find it rather alarming that graduates of universities in the country lack basic literacy skills. Reviewing Curriculum Vitae alone can be an excruciating process, not to talk of interviewing candidates. If skills as basic as literacy are a problem, where do we start to tackle the dearth of other skills that are becoming more and more relevant in today’s workplace, some of which include teamwork, critical thinking, attention to detail, problem solving, communication and leadership. Technical knowledge, which is traditionally built by cramming and memorising information, will not be enough to survive in the modern dynamic workplace.
Even if we think that there are many people who are exceptions to this (and there are), it is very important to recognise that this is a mere reflection of our population and probability. With a large and growing population, it might appear relatively easy to identify the smarter people, especially in the formal sector, which is where the cluster of these people exists. If the elite took some time to move vastly far out of our comfort zones, we would then realise that the many clever people we know are just a tiny fraction of the larger population of the country. There are just so many of us who are concentrated in the major cities and are in continued communication with people of like minds, so sometimes the lack of skills in the general population may not be apparent to us.
The general situation of the gaps in the workforce is going to need to turn around if we want to move forward. Sometimes, the “IF?” is a question I ponder over very deeply. Nevertheless, effective education is one of the critical solutions. But how do we get around to this if the Nigerian National Curriculum and teaching pedagogy have not been addressed to tackle it, particularly in the public sector? Are employers going to start to get frustrated and intervene in education delivery so that they match it directly to their own skills requirements? Are parents going to start taking the education of their children into their own hands if they do not see value for the school fees that they are paying?
If people do not have the skills to be employed, they will not get jobs, not just because the jobs are not available but also because these people themselves are unemployable.
How could homeschooling in this case work out in a nation where the cost of living is growing and more adults in the households are going to work and spending less time at home with their children? Where should policy makers and development organisations come into play in all of this? These are questions that we should begin to ask ourselves if we really do want to experience transformational change in Nigeria.