By Prince Osuagwu
In spite of the numerous efforts of government at bridging the gap in the educational sector, access to quality education by all still seems a dream too far from actualisation.
This is as Nigeria keeps making a less than impressive showing in global ratings. For instance, in the latest Global Competitiveness Index for 2012/2013, a survey aimed at quantifying the quality of the macroeconomic environment, the state of a country’s public institutions and its level of technological readiness, Nigeria ranked 148 out of 196 countries and maintained a 3.50 score, same as what it recorded in the 2011/2012 review. This is behind other sub-Saharan African countries of South Africa, 4.34; Kenya, 3.82; Benin, 3.78; Ghana, 3.65, and Cameroon, 3.61.
According to the institution that put the report together, the World Economic Forum, the 3.50 range Nigeria recorded is low, from its rating index, when pitched against other countries.
Meanwhile, notable experts have attributed this to the lull in educational system in the country. According to a research analyst, Mr Adeyemi Abdul-Rasaq, one factor that has created a gap in the growth in technological advancement in the country is the educational system which is lacking in many respects.
Abdul Rasaq’s position was arising from the survey which did not see any Nigerian university among the best 85 universities out of the 7,000 world recognized universities.
However, in recent times corporate bodies have stepped in to either fill the void created in the nation’s educational system or assist government and institutions in raising the standard of education in Nigeria. Most of these interventions are often through scholarship programmes, investing in schools, renovations or adoption of schools, teachers training programmes among others.
Perhaps this could be why Guinness Nigeria, recently took a bold step in building growth in the area of technological education with the sponsorship of ten youths on a technical training programme at the Institute of Industrial Technology (IIT).
Guinness said this initiative was part of its efforts at supporting the development of the youths and ensuring sustainable human capacity development in the nation
The Institute of Industrial Technology is an educational institution established by the African Development Foundation to use vocational and technological training to close the gap in educational development by training individuals with the right skills to contribute to the skilled workforce in the technology sector.
According to the Director of the Institute, Mr. Olumide Akinjo, “the purpose of this programme is to use technical and vocational training to close the gap in educational development and we are happy to have an able supporter such as Guinness Nigeria Plc that have supported some our students towards achieving their dreams”. Mr Akinjo also stated that the programme which started thirteen years ago has been kept alive by socially responsible corporate citizens like Guinness Nigeria.
Speaking on why Guinness made the gesture, the company official Mrs. Nkiruka Ogboruche, on behalf of her Corporate Relations Director, Sesan Sobowale, said that Guinness Nigeria is always committed to supporting the dreams and aspirations of youths and assisting them in becoming useful members of society.
She added that “at Guinness Nigeria, we are always happy to be involved with worthy projects that can add tremendous value to the lives of Nigerians. This sort of support forms a core part of our community investment agenda and we will continue to support Nigeria and Nigerians through initiatives and activities that uplift them.”
A renowned educator and director of ActionAid, Dr Otive Igbuzor, who was elated at the gesture, commented that “today what dictates the pace of economic growth is Information and Communication Technology, being the major driver of processes. Developing countries in the early 21st century now look to technology to similarly increase efficiency of production and diversify industrial output so as to reduce reliance on primary industries and just a few products.
New technology also may help to increase the health of the nation, boost educational facilities and enhance transport and communications, and developing countries see a close link between technology and economic development.
´The move by Guinness has given youths a chance to aspire to achieve their dreams. In no small measure, a paradigm shift that ensures support for technical and vocational institutions as well as their students has immeasurable benefits for the country at large.
It will lead to the emergence of a skilled generation of youths that can fill the yawning skill gap in the real sector of the economy thereby accelerating the growth of small and medium scale businesses which are the engine room of growth and development in every economy.