April 5, 2018

Technology, advanced skills are key to economic growth — ODUFUWA



By Dayo Adesulu

EXPERTS in the education sector have identified technology and advanced skills as critical determinants of a country’s economic growth and standard of living, arguing that learning outcomes are transformed into goods and services.


According to them, good quality, merit-based, equitable efficient tertiary education and research are essential parts of transformation, stressing that both developing and industrialised countries benefit from the dynamics of the knowledge economy.

Engr. Babatunde Odufuwa, chairman, Governing Council, Lagos City Polytechnic and Otunba Arogundade, managing director/chief executive officer, Sidmach Technology who spoke during the institution’s 12th convocation, brought to the fore, the need for adequate knowledge, advanced skills and technology in economic development. Odufuwa said: “The capacity of countries to adopt, disseminate, and maximise rapid technological advances is dependent on adequate systems of tertiary education.”

He noted that improved accessible tertiary education and effective national innovation systems could help a developing country progress toward sustainable achievements in the Millennium Development Goals.

Odufuwa who explained that there are many ways of enhancing and improving the quality, value and standard of tertiary education in Nigeria, added that there are parameters through which various studies and professions conform to the needs of the society and businesses most of which emanate from research and technological development in the world.

“Discoveries and studies are put together to achieve a set of world knowledge acquisition which cuts across languages and national boundaries but are universally accepted by all users in  engineering, medicine, information technology (IT) and other forms of improvement in the educational standard of the world,” he said, adding that the training, exposure and continued improvement in education and standard, had made the difference in the improvement in various tertiary colleges and universities.

He pointed out that in many countries, education is viewed as a good investment in national development as it is expected that the educational system will produce the quality and quantity of human resources required for the economic growth of the country.

In Nigeria, he noted that the educational sector has been consuming quite a large proportion of annual budgets of the federal, state, local government and the private sector.  He, however, maintained that in Nigeria, there is a need to establish and maintain standard operating criteria at all levels of the education system, adding that it’s essential that governments, parents, educationalists and all stakehölders continuously appraise expenditure in education in order to valuate its cost effectiveness and prudency as considered appropriate in commercial and industrial sectors of the economy.

He said: “The Harvard Business School is acclaimed as the best in business education. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US has specialised in computer information technology education and is in fact, currently packaging a team of computer and robotics students in the school, for pupils of junior and secondary schools across the country essentially to enhance the intellectual abilities and practical exposure to modern computer technology for participating pupils. The areas of learning will include applied mathematics, physics, leadership development, team work, communication skills and creativity.

Educational curriculum

“The Columbia Law School, New York, is a renowned school for legal education while Cambridge & Oxford universities in the UK are also citadels of scientific research and development. Southwestern Nigeria, is equally renowned for scientific research and development, R & D.

The educational curriculum in various countries of the world are made to reflect not only the needs of each country but the requirements of global economics through e-learning, e-commerce, etc. as reflected in the ICT development by the internet facilities which has reduced the world to a global village.

“In Nigeria, we need more skills than we need certificates. There is in fact a growing disconnect between the products of our tertiary institutions and the skills requirements of the economy. This underscores the need for closer interaction between our institutions and the operators in the economy.

“There is a need to focus more on research and development, manufacturing and industrial growth set for exports as opposed to projects which are not employment-generating. These challenges affect our educational standard and inhibit our efforts to strive to achieve our goals of being amongst the first 20 global economies in the year 2020.

“Our educational system must be home-made to reflect the need of our environment and learn from the mistakes of developed countries.

It is important to ensure that our education system produces the basic skills needed for development, viz:  “teachers and artisans, i.e. painters, bricklayers, carpenters, mechanics, welders, electricians etc., who must be well educated in the use of their skills to serve and support the  graduates in engineering, medicine, art, science and humanities.

The reopening of trade centres where all our artisans are trained will assist us in enhancing the delivery of skills in the educational system. If we must make progress in this economy, our private sector would have to play a major role. The public sector would also have to create the enabling environment.”

Meanwhile, a total 541 graduands from the school of engineering and applied sciences as well as the school of business and management studies were conferred with National Diplomas and  Higher National Diplomas. The breakdown revealed that 267 graduands were conferred with National Diploma, just as 274  received the Higher National Diploma.

Moreover, Otunba Arogundade in his presentation at the convocation posited that Nigeria needs further entrenchment of technology in educational development, adding, “science and technology have revolutionised learning around the world. Telecommunication has brought the world together such that distance is no longer a barrier to quality and depth of learning.”

Arogundade explained that many values that have been added to telecommunication over the years and the explosion in software engineering has brought great improvements to learning in general.

Technological infrastructure

He said: “While technology has enhanced learning globally, it is not exactly so in the case of our country. The lack of adequate technological infrastructure to drive learning is of great concern and a major setback to enhancing  education in Nigeria.

“Most of the schools are not linked to the internet and as such, do not benefit effectively from the educational resources online. Also, inadequate number of skilled technological resources is another factor. Until these factors are well addressed, our yearning to be at par with our global partners may not come easily.”

Other factors slowing down the application of technology in learning, according to him include: Lack of practical appreciation of science teaching in Nigeria, low rate of paradigm shift awareness, less aggression in the pursuit of science by government and infrastructure deficiency.