Nigeria: Time to change the old order of economic thinking around education


Nairametrics| 2017 is proving to be an interesting year for Nigeria. The headwind that seemingly cast the economy into the dark hole of the recession in 2016 is abating. Economist and street side analyst are predicting that the economy will walk out of the recession in the second quarter. Some are even throwing in research notes, showing the relationship between the position of celestial objects, trees and the economy to proof the point. However, almost all agree that the economy is not out of the woods.

Nigeria’s ability to function and trade competitively continue to be built on the old order- namely- crude oil and agriculture. Rice, which was domesticated 8,200 years ago is now to anchor Nigeria’s economic growth plan. Little is said about knowledge, mechanisation and automation of farms.

Monetary policy that should ordinarily be anchored around the domestic market is caught between foreign trade activities and raising funds for government- defeating the fundamentals for issuing Nigeria’s fiat money. The capital market remains flat on its belly as businesses continue to ride on the back of a dysfunctional banking system.

Infrastructure is designed to support international trade not the domestic market while monetary policies are wired around attracting foreign investment. The problems fall on the kind of knowledge acquired by policy formulators and the workforce by extension.

Building a knowledge-based economy is critical for developing countries looking to end the cycle of poverty.  Spending to improve access to higher education in Nigeria is not keeping up with the demand making it difficult to join the global movement toward a skilled driven economy.

Economist and policy analyst agree that the choice between a knowledge-based economy and a failed society is highly dependent on the type of human capital on offer. It is important to train and re-train at least 50% of the workforce on modern techniques and tools to remain competitive in a fast-changing world.

Almost all countries in the world depend on the universities and tertiary institution of learning to close the skills and knowledge gap. Nigeria is caught in between the thick lines.

Policies to improve access to education is buried in the old ways of thinking, and little is being done to streamline curriculum at all level with the skill needs of the market. Interestingly, only 25% of the UTME applicant in 2015 gained admission into higher institutions and government seems to be okay with it. The quality of education is totally disappointing.

Also, much of the jobs outsourced from developed countries to developing countries are under intense pressure as automation, and machine learning takes hold.

Automation, Robots and machine learning is distorting the global business environment. Firms in the developed world are less likely to outsource labour intensive jobs to developing countries going forward. Nigeria industrial policies today revolves around attracting those labour intensive jobs. New technologies are distorting the nature of work, and with increasing computing power, artificial intelligence, internet-of-things, the manufacturing prospects for Africa’s most populated country gets darker.

Rising numbers of adults are more likely to enroll for courses in higher institutions to upgrade their skills putting more pressure on limited space. Nigeria, as we have it today, is not working to improve its curriculum, enhance learning experience and expand access.

Policy formulators will need to pick up research papers on education and develop a workable model around the use of ICT in education.

While 86million people are connected to the internet, mobile phones, tablet and computer are everywhere. The Idea of assessing students based solely on examination must abolish. Skills should take the front burner.

If we hope to remain relevant in the future, the education sector must innovate fast, if not, it seems more likely that massive open online course (MOOC) and online degree courses offered by the best universities in the world may signal the end of traditional tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atiku Samuel

Atiku Samuel is the Research Lead at BudgIT. He has undertaken series of Executive training and professional courses in accounting, project finance, econometric modelling techniques, monetary policies, economics, data gathering, analysis and visualisation among others. Atiku is a graduate of Actuarial science from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Atiku is currently working on series of research covering different aspect of economic, developmental and social policies, ranging from Trade Policies, taxation and employment to energy, health, Agriculture, transport and international development across National and Sub-National Level.

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