Many Nigerian graduates are currently not only unemployed but unemployable due to the failure of the country’s educational system.
Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, United States of America (USA), Jacob K. Olupona who came to this conclusion said graduates of tertiary institutions make up of 20 percent of youth unemployment in the country, and “this represents a crisis for our country.”
Speaking in llorin, the Kwara state capital while delivering this year’s University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) convocation lecture titled: “Educational reform and nation building in Nigeria” Olupona said, in reforming the country’s educational system, Nigeria must search for a new model focused on financial literacy, critical thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurship.
He said that, “by learning and practicing these skills while at the university, regardless of their programmes of study, our graduates can make a smoother transition into the workforce.”
He decried the stead fall in the standard of public school education in Nigeria, adding that it is a fundamental problem that all must address frontally.
“It is through a strong educational system that we can reform our national image, ethos and unity. If we want good governance, we must look to education. If we want social justice, we must look to education. If we want to decrease poverty and increase literacy, we must look to education. If we want a skilled, disciplined and hardworking labour force, we must look to education. If we truly want change in our country, we must begin to rethink and reinvest in our education system,” he said.
He said: “One solution that many committed and well-meaning Nigerians have found for this problem of lack of both quality and availability is to use private education to fill in the gap left by the public system. However, private schools are not accessible to the entire population, and if we do not want to perpetuate a cycle that reinforces socio-economic stratification, we must ensure that Nigerians of all backgrounds-economic, geographic, religious, gender and otherwise-have equal access to a quality education
“In addition, private schools treat education as a commodity. Although this in itself does not present a problem, when too much of the educational burden is placed on private institutions, the idea that education is a constitutional right and a public good is severely undermined. As we are all aware, the private sector has been growing rapidly over the years, and while I appreciate the great contributions that private institutions have made, the fact remains that the public school system should be viewed as the standard and the norm, with private schools viewed as an alternative for those who desire it.
“Currently, private education is viewed as the standard, and the public system the alternative for those who can no longer afford a world-class education. we need to reform our public educational system so that public and private institutions in our nation can prepare our students equally to become citizens of the new Nigeria.”
The professor added that Nigerian schools should be geared towards producing effective citizens and not merely replenish the labour force.
He canvassed for the reformation of the country’s educational system that would expose the students to strong moral training regardless of the specific classification of schools.
“In other words, what I propose is that all schools provide students with a solid grounding in the major religious traditions that surround them. In this way they will not fall prey to misinformation and prejudice, but can learn tolerance and understanding, and play their part in creating a national ethos of religious cooperation.”