By Peter Duru
MAKURDI â€” The Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Prof Iorwuese Hagher, has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of priority, declare a state of national emergency in the nationâ€™s education sector to check steep slide that has bedevilled the sector in recent time.
Speaking with newsmen in Makurdi, Prof. Hagher said his call was premised on current unhealthy development in the sector that had resulted in successive mass failures in national examinations conducted across the country.
According to the envoy, it has become imperative that drastic actions are taken to check the dwindling standard of education in the country, noting that this could be effectively done â€œthrough the declaration of a national emergency on education.
â€œWhen we look at the population of our nation, we realise that we are a young nation where over 80 million Nigerians are below the age of 26, and of this figure, among those who sat for the Senior Secondary School Examinations, less than 400,000 passed Mathematics and English in their exams. Which means that we have less than 400,000 who are qualified to gain entrance into the universities. This is really tragic.
â€œThis is definitely not deserving of a country with so much responsibilities and so much potentials. Nigeria is not only rich by its level of oil output, but also by our population and the potentials of our young people which is by far more valuable than the oil and that is why we must adequately develop the capacity of our people in order to be reckoned with in the comity of nations,â€ he said.
He argued that China and India are what they are today because they toed the same line and are better for it today.
According to Hagher, the Nigerian university system should be properly repositioned in such a manner that it provides skills for young people, adding: â€œEven those who have graduated could go back and be re-training in skills that can be pooled to jumpstart the economy because we cannot be a member of the G-20 if we do not have the necessary manpower and specialists to run our industries and infrastructure.
“This is a challenge we must confront headlong and we must invest heavily in education to attain that height,â€ he said.
The envoy who is also the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti recommended that a deliberate policy direction should be put in place to encourage dedication on the part of key players in the nationâ€™s educational sector in order to stem cases of strikes in all cadres of the educational sector.