By Umar Tani
When the first National Education Innovation Exhibition took place from November 19 to 21, 2012, nothing prepared the audience for the hope embedded in the products and services of some young Nigerians. More encouraging, too, was the fact that the event highlighted partnering and networking between ministries critical “to the promotion of innovation for national development”. The first National Education Innovation Exhibition was held in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of CommunicationTechnology, Health, Science and Technology, Trade and Investment in Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan himself attested to this when he observed that “in putting this exhibition together, the Federal Ministry of Education has recognized a very key aspect of successful education and innovation, which is collaboration”. This, according to Mr. President, “provides us with the opportunity to know what others are doing, as well as share and contribute to our success”.
There is absolutely no way government and its functionaries can operate in an environment where people are unaware of their activities. Thus the National Education Innovation Exhibition was organized to bring to public attention the innovation taking place in schools. Innovation, acccording to Jonathan, is “an approach towards thinking differently, that must be encouraged and ultimately nurtured”.
Further to this is the fact that Nigerians are, generally speaking, unaware of the tracks being charted in the course of the Jonathan administration Transformation Agenda by the youth in our educational sector.
The organizers of the exhibition hoped to:
Bring to public attention equipment and materials produced by educational institutions; provide awareness on these to relevant government agencies; provide awareness to necessary sections of the organized private sector towards enhancing the quality of the products; and commercialize the products.
The outcome should definitely address the issue of linkages between educational and research institutes within the private sector.
At the same time, commercializing these products should reduce, significantly, import and even enhance export. This way, Nigeria’s balance of payment is increased. Through this too, issues of job creation and enhancement of the country’s industrial base would be addressed.
With a growing economy, the demand for skilled manpower is rising. The gap between private sector involvement and technical and vocational education training is even more visible.
Yet, it was a day of galore for event watchers, as over 100 institutions and private investors met to rub minds and polish ideas under the watchful eyes of the Minister of Education, Prof. Rugayyatu Ahmed Rufai.
As managers are wont to say: “information is power”, and we wait to see how much impact this initiative would have on the next phase of the exhibition.
Its initiator and Minister of Education attested to this when she said, “We have a wide range of innovation that, if properly commercialized, would enhance our national economic standing”.
I can’t wait for the second National Education Innovation Exhibition. I presume, you too can’t.
*Tani lives in Wuse, Abuja.