Nigeria’s people’s manifesto: Education

Posted on Friday, 15 April 2011 11:13

As election season continues in Nigeria, we canvassed Nigerians from across the country for their top priorities. They want their kids to be taught real world skills.

Nigeria will make sure its students have the skills to meet the challenges of today, not teach the curricula of yesterday

Over 10 million Nigerian children are not at school. Many of them are in the north, many are girls living in rural areas. Martin Udogie, publisher of BottomLINE, is a spokesman for many when he intones: “Education, education, education. And not just book or certificate education, real skills.”?

“Education must be our highest priority,” says the dean of Lagos Business School, Enase Okonedo. He complains about the “sorry state of our education institutions from secondary to tertiary, characterised by poor facilities, outdated curricula, and limited internet access.” Elizabeth Isewon, a teacher at Maverick College, Ibadan, says the payment issues need to be resolved. “When teachers aren’t paid on time there will be not be an incentive to work. Many of them have families… they have to look for other means of making money”.

Muhtar Bakare, who left his life as a bank CEO to set up book publishing house Kachifo, laments the death of higher education in Nigeria. Universities tend to be the epicentre of radical protest, so military governments stopped funding them. Cut off from their future, many students drifted into radical cults. “Our universities used to produce Nobel laureates. What are they producing today?” Bakare calls for Nigeria to start moving toward the establishment of trusts and endowments like universities in the US.

Parents have to pay to put their kids through school. Abou is a guard for a housing complex in Omole. In the morning he drives an okada (motorcycle taxi). In the afternoons and at night he patrols the complex near Lagos Airport. “But still I don’t have enough for the children.” He is currently paying N30,000 ($200) a term per child. He has six children, four of whom attend school.

The stakes are high because it is the youth of today who will run the Nigeria of tomorrow. “We are neither creating nor nurturing leaders,” says Okenedo. A strong, properly funded education sector would help turn that around.

Read more from the people’s manifesto on Jobs, Security, Power & water, Land, Reform and Health.

This article was first published in the April 2011 edition of The Africa Report.

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