How long will the Nigerian human capital, our greatest resource, continue to underutilize its potential? The Nigerian Education system has descended from its towering heights of excellence in the early days of independence to academic relics with no touch of global competitiveness. The 25% funding prescribed by UNESCO seems to be utopian for our leaders and the neglect has led to half-baked graduates who were nurtured with crude methods of education. Education is the bedrock of national development and has birthed the mega technology of developed territories but in Nigeria, the hazy and ineffective policies of the government have pushed the tattered system to the backseat.
The problems of the society evident through poverty, poor human living conditions, incoherent policies and bad leadership are reflected in a crumbling education system from basic to higher institution level. Effective education which ought to be the responsibility of the Nigerian government is now left in the hands of individuals and religious organizations. It is obvious that the chasm between the corporate boardroom and academic classroom keeps stretching to an eternal divide. Nigerian graduates who once were the toast of foreign universities are now mostly dubbed unemployable according to the former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo. The unprepared graduates are mostly bereft of leadership skills, workplace ethics, global learning methods and resource management for effective competition in the new workplace.
The education system being taught in Nigerian higher institutions is highly deficient with an outdated and irrelevant curriculum prepared 30 years ago and still taught by conservative lecturers. The education system produces graduates overfed with pure academic theories with no creativity and learning methods that only promote crude cramming- a sudden assimilation of knowledge forgotten after examinations. The cramming ‘machines’ get the best grades and the examination is replete with past questions or replica of class notebooks, churning out tons of papers. The system produce graduates with an inability to innovate and apply their education.
Corruption through exam malpractices, academic record falsification and sexual harassment have eroded the Nigerian academic integrity. The large number of mostly unprepared graduates cannot be absorbed by either the private sector or public sector capacity. This has created huge unemployment in the labour market. Many graduates are sauntering across central business districts, applying through numerous recruitment agencies and online career sites. Age limits are reduced, academic grades are side-lined by lobbying and hunting to scoop the best available talents. A lot of racketeers have taken ample advantage of the inefficient system and numerous Nigerians have found them. Many graduates without basic knowledge of their assumed professions have taken positions. This has created misfits in the corporate environment with no passion or enthusiasm, but see the job as a way to avoid walking around in the scorching sun with worn-out shoes.
But how can we ameliorate this decaying system? The first step in improving the employment crisis is to an urgent surgical operation of the Nigerian education system. The Nigerian education must ready students for global competition and it begins with changing the values of the system. An overhaul of the infrastructure, teaching methods, teachers and curriculum needs urgent attention to make the product of the system not only employable in Nigeria, but also across the globe. Curriculum bench marked with global standards must evolve to groom the Nigerian graduate not only a local resource, but as a global asset.
Infrastructural turnaround includes de congesting overcrowded classrooms, stocking laboratories that are quickly becoming scientific museums and organizing field trips and corporate visits which are becoming nonexistent.
Internships and scholarships ought to be properly managed by Nigerian government board with endowments from corporate and international organizations. Online classes using advanced e-learning techniques have to be available through the internet access present in our higher learning institutions. Academic teaching needs to focus on how education and theories translate into practical forms, steering student minds towards creativity and innovation. Research organizations must be strengthened by partnering with foreign universities for knowledge transfer. Lecturers need refresher courses to update their knowledge on recent developments in their field.
Vocational centers and after-school technological and business training centers should be in place to imbue workplace ethics and managerial skills before being pushed to the corporate environment.
Graduates need to be taught how to develop entrepreneurial skills aimed at developing private businesses. Student loans and small scale facilities that translate feasible ideas into business ventures need to be supported by the Nigerian government and corporations. The role of improving the education system does not benefit from the blame game, but needs decisive action by all stakeholders.
Students, teachers, school management and corporate organizations need to work together to ensure that Nigerian education is exorcised from a thousand demons ruining its noble cause. The ability to admit its flaws and take a progressive attitude to prevent its collapse will be the pathway to a viable country with an improved GDP. A restructured education system developed for innovation, creativity and global competitiveness is the key solution for solving the current unemployment crisis facing my country, Nigeria. This will lead to the effective and efficient utilization of the key resource endowed by God, human capital.[Image via istockphotos]