In 2018, technology giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Apple had about 650,000 new openings, two-thirds of these openings required STEM talent. According to Forbes, STEM is reengineering the workplace of the future, mandating that schools embrace the holistic approach to learning by combining physical, mental, social-emotional and cognitive development with traditional academics while bringing prestige to the teaching profession.
Research shows that STEM jobs are growing at 17 percent compared to other jobs growing at 9.8 percent. Also, STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers and presently, there is a skill shortage of about 2.4 million qualified persons required to fill STEM-related jobs worldwide.
STEM-related activity such as coding, game development, mobile app development, intelligent website design, and robotics are known to improve creativity with students. They are also known to develop logical thinking, problem-solving and persistence abilities and provide opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes emerging them into masters in these fields.
Due to population, Lagos is the state with the highest number of public schools, students and teachers. Lagos has consistently presented the highest number of candidates for WAEC in Nigeria since 1967 hence the provision of free and quality education has proven a daunting task for past administrations in Lagos state. To combat this challenge, 92.4 billion nairas was allocated to the education sector in the state budget for 2017 to carter to the free education of students in primary schools, junior and senior secondary schools, technical and vocational schools across the state. The result has been an improvement in infrastructural facilities in public schools across the state with new model schools owning facilities like football pitches, basketball and lawn tennis courts, classrooms, laboratories, multipurpose halls, libraries, and spacious car parks. Again, is the capacity improvement of these schools as shown in national competitions where the state team emerged as the 2nd overall best state at the 2017 National Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientist (JETS) competition held in Lagos. Also, the Lagos state team won 10 trophies and 10 medals at the event and out of the 10 trophies, the public school students won 7 trophies. Additionally, a student of Lagos State Senior Model College, Igbokuta emerged as the winner of the state final of the annual Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) competition for schools in Nigeria.
While all these are highly commendable, there is still that dire need to invest in STEM education to prepare our youth for the global workplace of the future. The government can work in partnership with forwarding thinking technological firms to imbibe a STEM curriculum into the present one while also training teachers on different STEM styled methods of teaching that will help the students be readily interested in and quickly imbibe STEM education.
Imagine if students were taught to code and develop game and apps even from the primary school stage, I seriously doubt that there be anything like unemployment as our youth will be relevant not just to the local economy but also in the international market. Also the level of creativity, innovation and uniqueness will spike as there will be a need to differentiate innovations. The students will also be able to solve problems critically and in time, develop a rugged resilience borne from failing forward.
Since the youth are the future of this nation and Lagos state is a pioneering state in Nigeria, a government with a passion for forwarding thinking education will win the people’s heart. Babajide Olushola Sanwoolu’s manifesto for education in Lagos state seems impressive enough as he intends to improve on the achievements of his predecessors.
As it concerns education, Babajide Sanwoolu intends to increase budgetary allocation for education from 12.07% to 18% to accommodate STEM education statewide. He also intends to scale up and accelerate school rehabilitation programs to renovate dilapidated schools and provide adequate furniture and tools for every child in a public school in Lagos. His mandate also includes establishing 300 fully equipped and functional computer labs in secondary schools across the state while imbibing a long term maintenance culture. He also intends to explore a performance-based school support voucher program administered through revived School Management Boards to create semi-autonomous governance for each local school and also expand the Support-Our-School Programme in partnership with the private sector by targeting 100 schools across all 57 LCDAs.
Babajide Sanwoolu also aims to upgrade teacher training institutions to improve the quality and quantity of new and existing teachers towards the recommended teacher-student ratio of 1:30. He will also review the curriculum to ensure alignment with 21st-century skills required in the workplace and business while providing tax incentives and waivers for private sector organisations partnering with technical and tertiary institutions in the state.
Also is the Babajide Sanwoolu mandate to support and promote investment in skills-based training and certification programmes to enable the informal segment of the workforce to acquire the skill-set needed to meet the changing demands of the labour market. He also intends to pair private schools with a great track record to support nearby public schools on capacity development, strengthen STEM education in schools by increasing the number of STEM teachers and providing adequate teaching materials for STEM education. Babajide Sanwoolu will also establish After-School Study Halls across the state staffed with volunteer tutors to help students prepare for major exams (JSSCE, WAEC, JAMB) while leveraging technology platforms to teach, assess, test and reinforce learning in partnership with the private sector and development partners.
It is exciting to see forward thinking and globally minded policies in Babajide Sanwoolu’s manifesto because a government that can imbibe STEM education into its existing curriculum desires an elite and empowered citizenry. What better way to awaken students to their infinite potentials than through adoption of STEM into the curriculum – the likes of which Babajide Sanwoolu’s mandate for education proffers?