On this #IYD2019, we must all come to terms to one immutable truth; a nation and its people can only truly reach their potential if they embrace National development, the process of reconstructing attitudes and expectations towards community centric development.
But is national development possible without educational reform?
The evidence suggests not. Education at the basic and secondary levels provide a framework of philosophies and skills that help to encourage citizens to see the benefits of integrity, the dignity of labour and patriotism as a tool for nation building. The advantages an education sector structured around civic responsibility can provide is endless.
For years now, there has been an outcry on the obsolescence of Nigeria’s current school curricula. It has simply not evolved to reflect the contemporary needs of a technological driven world, or even prepared the average Nigerian to exist within it. There is much that needs to be improved, including technology, agriculture, housing, politics, arts and the lot. This refusal to evolve with the times has left many young Nigerians unmoored in a world that has no place for them. For instance, many argue that the basic knowledge of how to use basic farm implements like hoes and cutlasses are irrelevant to young students who aspire to be massive exporters of farm produce in the future the use of simple tools like the hoe, ignoring the realities that require this knowledge in the first place.
They are also not exposed to the contemporary technology like Artificial Intelligence operated tractors that their counterparts in foreign countries are trained at tender ages to use. The result is that students end up only with theoretical knowledge and are ill-equipped to function here or in developed nations. This reflects the lack of synergy between what is taught in school and what is actually needed in the real world. We continue to regress as a nation, though technology is making it easier for anyone to access better education.
To solve one of the educational sector’s biggest problems would be a necessary restructuring of the curriculum, innovatively. National development in relation to the education sector would get citizens better equipped to take on the labour market.
Innovative curricula should contain useful and practical skill sets that should prepare the students for their futures. National development gives the bodies tasked with creating and enforcing curriculums the opportunity to assess the wealth of growth in the nation and inject their observations into the foundational material students are exposed to, allowing education to cover all spheres – formal and informal.
Industries need trained personnel. The only way to adequately train personnel for these industries is to incorporate vocational training into all academic curricula. However, this cannot happen if there are no first industries first to absorb the skilled professionals this initiative will produce. Industrialization of the country is on its own a massive step at national development. The curriculum in preparation of the students for the labour market must cover what the labour market requires after a thorough examination and honest analysis. If the industries created must hire Nigerians to work in them, the curriculum must reflect everything needed to qualify to work in these industries.
In conclusion, I would leave with the words of Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, the founding VC of National Open University of Nigeria and past Secretary-General and Chief Executive, Association of African Universities, “Our review of the curricula used at our institutions of higher learning has not kept pace with global development, research outcomes and current societal needs. “It appears we still use analogue thinking to solve current issues which have gone digital, while tertiary institutions are still producing graduates for the labour market without constant review of what the market requires.”
To this end, it is important to reiterate that drastic steps must be taken to revive the curriculum and adapt it to the fast-changing society now and the desperate need to accommodate a new and flexible curriculum that would create the much desired enabling environment to thrive.