“To reform and restructure the education sector to empower and develop the citizenry to acquire skills and knowledge that would prepare them for the world of work”-Mission statement, The Federal Ministry of Education.

Nigeria has 125 universities, 95 polytechnics and possibly 37 colleges of education. Encouragingly there has been a yearly increment in the number of students enrollments nationwide and, a significant growth in the number of tertiary institutions in the country mostly by private organizations and individuals. These developments failed to transform into innovation economy and real growth because of the poor education quality.

Other problems identified include the following:

  • Declining financing.
    Insufficient and irrelevant learning materials, including outdated equipments, books, and run down infrastructures.
    Poorly paid academic staff and lack of accountability.
    Expansion of enrollment leading to oversupply of graduates.
    Curriculum not designed for 21st century and globalization.
    Students disruptions like unrest and gangsterism.
    lack of incentives for innovation.

The quality of graduates produced are so inadequate that employers often need to provide prolonged internship training and education for new hires. This expenditure adds to overhead costs and imparts the bottom line and competitiveness.

A 21st century education should develop the citizens along the path of innovation and entrepreneurship and not work.
Earlier this year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a conclusive study that demonstrated a significant positive correlation between cognitive skills and GDP. The report persuasively argued for prioritizing education on a policy level. From the data available to us through The World Bank Edstats database, Nigeria’s percentage of GDP on public education continue to decline despite the facts.

% of GDP spending on Education

Education is a mandatory long term investment towards economic growth, education policy that increases education spending and improve quality in 2011 will yield palpable economic dividends in 2030-2035 when today’s young students become significant members of the workforce. Interestingly, South Africa’s education spending over the same time frame in the above table has been consistently 6-7% while Ghana’s 3-4%.

Quality of Education
In our flat world, employment across international borders and collaborations demand a 21st century education system that put particular emphasis on the latest communication and computing technologies.

The Nigeria University Commission, NUC, is among other moribund parastatals of the Ministry of Education. This body will be an independent agency funded both by the government and the private sector. It will be tasked with revamping current academic programs with focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. It will be responsible for devising periodic assessments of tertiary institutions academic staff. It will also work with these institutions to determine staff compensations and salaries.

Because of the unique position of tertiary institutions in the education structure, they provide far more opportunities to individuals and directly infuse trained work force into a growing economy.

Academic Staff compensations
The NUC will work with the tertiary institutions to design a special salary scale that’s tied to performance. More importantly, we know that people chose to become lecturers largely because of their love for teaching, research and other academic endeavors. We also strongly believe invention and innovation must be rewarded. Its been shown over and over that people respond to incentives, rewarding innovation encourages more of same.

Every tertiary institution will be mandated to have a registered “College Company” that will:

  • Co-ordinate researches in all departments.
    Arrange for patent filings of inventions
    Handle licensing of inventions to private sectors
    Handle compensations that will be distributed between the institution and the inventor(s)
    Manufacture and market inventions as they choose.

The initial financing will come from the government through a special Innovation Fund that is repaid overtime following commercialization of the invention. The fund managers will aggressively scout for ideas and innovations with commercialization potentials and help the institutions in recruiting experienced managers from the private sector.

Students unrest and closures
Unrest and closures are interplay of reactions and counteractions resulting from unreasonable government policies that over the years have further weaken our education system. It becomes difficult to tailor programs and make employment projections impossible as enrollments numbers completely disconnect from graduation numbers.
Campuses gangsterism is a criminal act that must be treated as such. Institutions have had to fashion out measures in their own ways as they get no help from the government in addressing this issue. Curbing this problem requires experience in intelligence gathering and law enforcement found in some government agencies.

Primary and Secondary Education system
Increasing education funding will allow for rebuild of all our primary and secondary schools. ARP considers this a national emergency that must be given a war-time like attention. We regard this as a basic right of ALL Nigerians, it makes economic sense and it is the right thing to do. We can not have a lasting democracy without an educated electorate. Economy growth curve will flatten without a sound policy that guarantees steady inflow of well educated workforce.

It is not enough to simply increase the number of enrollments as indicated in the MDGs but to students graduate with enough skills that prepare them for tertiary institutions.

Currently, public primary and secondary education is funded by all the three tiers of government in a poorly delineated arrangements. The lower 2 tiers of government almost exclusively derive their revenues from the Federal Government. Even though there are the so called state government and local government/community run primary and secondary schools, these schools constantly look for the FG’s help because of neglect. The FG’s institutions have also suffered the same fate over the past 3 decades. The private sector has beautifully stepped into this void of confusion and neglect but the tuition has made sure that the majority of the students are left behind.

The result of this will be an unacceptable education and economic gap that will badly reflect on our economy and society in the next 1-2 decades. We believe it is the job of the Federal Government to ensure that quality primary and secondary education is free and a must for ALL citizens:

  • Increasing education funding. We will recommend a 7% of GDP. A number that may even be increased after righting our infrastructures.
    All primary and secondary education must be free and mandatory.
    All primary and secondary education must be directly funded by the Federal Government.
    Hire qualified teachers who will get remedial training before stepping into classrooms.
    They will also be interned at the job before a tenure is granted.
    Annual assessments and rankings of teachers based on students performances
    Annual nationwide test at all levels at the beginning and end of every school year to allow for students’ improvement assessments and comparison from state to state and between very local Government.
    Data base of ALL primary and secondary schools including enrollment census, students-teacher ratio and reports of annual test performances.
    Community engagement and participation to be organized by the state and local government. Every community will have a council constituted by the Local Government Chairman and the local traditional ruler who will see to the community engagement of these institutions and ensure local supports such as human security and property protection.

The motto of an organization determines exactly what comes out of its activities. Our motto should reflect that we understand that basic education is a human right, a necessity for democracy, and that cutting edge education that focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and global competitiveness is the only way out of our national poverty.

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