Governments at the federal and state levels in the country have been advised to review the education policy in the country to guarantee that education contributes its quota to national development.
The plea was made at the weekend by Adeolu Akande, a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State while delivering a public lecture on the Role of education in National Development at the Annual Award’s Day of the National Progressive Youth Forum in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The Guest Speaker said education as presently implemented in the country does not guarantee the nation’s development because no country can develop faster than its educational programme can afford.
Accounting to the Guest Speaker, about 40 percent of Nigerian children of primary school age are out of school. He said only 54 percent of those who enter primary school proceed to secondary school while only 20 percent of the 1.3million who applied for tertiary education are admitted into higher institutions.
The result is that far less than 40 percent of Nigerian children have the benefit of education to mould them into responsible members of society who could be part of the manpower to drive the development of the country.
”As a society, we need to pursue a policy that leaves no child behind. Every government should be assessed by how well it develops Nigerian children and youth to drivers of national development”, he submitted.
Akande said education contributes to national development through the development of manpower that drives the economy, the socialisation of the citizenry to responsible members of society and for creating political consciousness that grooms citizens to perform their civic responsibilities and make government accountable to the people.
“There is no gainsaying that our education programme has fallen short of these expectations”, he said. Akande said the dream of the founding fathers of Nigeria who substituted the inherited colonial curriculum for an indigenous system for the generation of an indigenous manpower has been defeated.
Professor Akande said the failure of government to judiciously fund the 6-3-3-4 education system has created serious dislocation in the quest of Nigeria to generate the manpower to run the Nigerian economy.
He also explained that the failure to fully integrate the technical and vocational components of the education programme is a major contributor to the high rate of unemployment in the country.
He explained that many of the products of the tertiary institutions who could not secure white collar jobs remain unemployed because the education system did not empower them with vocational skills.
”It is unfortunate that Nigerians now pride themselves as bringing brick layers, tillers and other artisans from neighbouring countries to build their houses. What we are doing is exporting the jobs of our youths”, he said.
The scholar said that emphasis on vocational and technical training will ensure that Nigerian youths have the capacity to self-employ and indeed employ other Nigerian youths, saying this is the panacea to the high rate of unemployment among Nigerian youths.
“The truth is that it is the small and medium enterprises that provide over 60 percent employment in developed economies and not the conglomerates.
If our youths are equipped with vocational education, they will not only self-employ, they will employ other youths and collectively will provide the highest number of jobs in the economy. More than 65 percent of jobs in the United States of America are provided by small and medium enterprises.