BOLD CHOICES - What Kind of Education is IMPORTANT for Nigeria?

Why we are still training clerks and secretaries for government workers and other questions

We must evolve boldly or ‘die’

In my series titled BOLD CHOICES, I had shared the notion that for Nigeria to be able to catch up with the rest of the world at this pace, we will need to commit 20% of our yearly budget to Education for the next 20 years.

I got feedback from two of my mentors, one of which has more than 15 years of experience in the development sector. This feedback is summarized in this line.

The solution to Education in Nigeria is not necessarily increasing the budget, but radically reforming the system.

Putting more money into our Education system as it currently stands is like pouring more water into a bucket with a dozen rat-head-sized holes. I cannot agree more.

But what kind of education do we need and how can we bring this about?

I am radically fixated on the future of our country and what current trends have in their predictions. It will take at least 20 years before any appreciable investment will begin to take full effect. This article here on quartz explains this a bit

Now, if we have to wait twenty years, we might not( i think will not) even have the clout to make a sound and get any serious country to listen to us as a nation. We only have to factor in our population growth and the ripple effects of having unskilled, jobless, idle youths who have nothing to do and can do nothing.

As simply as I can put it, this is what I think we need to do.

We need to train our people to start supplying a global market of technology. The Buy Naija to Grow the Naira is too late. Great Initiative but like I have noted above, it’s too slow. We don’t even have enough resources to buy what we produce and make it to the front in 20 years.

There is a technological revolution globally. Robotics, AI, VR to mention a few. This DATA Revolution is one we have to key into. The world, our globe is in need of as many technically skilled tech talents as it can get. Why are we still training clerks and secretaries for colonial masters?

We need to rethink Education! Our definition of education needs to change. This noble idea of going through a 6–3–3–4 system and getting a certificate is NO LONGER WORTHY of the tag, Education. Many of us know students who were earning handsomely as early as 200 level programming or designing for clients outside Nigeria.

A couple of decades ago, Africa was in need of doctors/medical personnel and every parent wants their wards to be a medical doctor or pharmacist or nurse. The world has moved. Why are not moving with it? Right now, the world is in need of those who can transform it through technology and what does it take to build a WAEC student who has passed English and Mathematics into a programmer, or a digital marketer or a non-technical founder — If i’m to answer that, I’ll say two years, a laptop, a smartphone and lots of online videos (and of course, more)

Folks like Andela and SwitchNG and Tanteeta and PIN are already doing a great job at this. I am not aware how much of focus is on the secondary school leaver, but we have to skip expecting people to graduate before assuming they can be educated enough to supply a global demand. As beautiful as the work that these private firms are doing is, there is a need for government to understand that this is the 20% that gives Nigeria the 80% of productivity that is needed to get us out of this impending future mess. Government needs to be the driving force.

The world is now flat and it seems to be unfortunate for Africa that the world became flat before it industrialized, but that is what it is. This however is when one looks closely an opportunity, so that it doesn’t matter whether the girl in Idominasi in Obokun Local Government is serving a client in Finland or Norway, the service is being offered.

So should we spend ample time worrying about the industrial jobs that were supposed to move from China to Africa because of Cheap Labour but will now be taken over by robots who offer cheaper labour? Maybe, Maybe not! What I’m convinced of is that a better use of that time is the investment in training our youth and getting them equipped with the skills to build the robots and program the software and innovate around already established status quos.

So back to my original point, investing 20% of our yearly budget into Education is one BOLD CHOICE we have to make and then ensure we channel 80% of this money into a 2 year program that produces the best technical and non-technical talent in technology, ready for export to the entire world.

Government already does 6% into the current education sector. When you look closely like one of my mentors mentioned, a higher percentage of the total funds that go into education is provided by the private sector. A 14% increase in the education budget of the FG going directly into Technology with expected impact in 2 years time is the way to go.

FG needs to switch from seeking 37 volunteers that will teach 700 students in an N-Power program like this article here shows and start pursuing the BOLD IDEAS of training 1,000,000 Nigerian developers under 18 and 500,000 Digital Marketers under 20 and 250,000 non-technical founders under 21 every year — people who can create solutions for the problems in Australia from Esa Oke’s College of Technology.

The world’s demand for technology is our opportunity. LET US TAKE IT, BOLDLY.