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Nigerian graduates lack competitive, robotic skills — Egunjobi

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A cross section of Nigerian University graduates

Adebare Egunjobi, CEO of EIN Educational Services and chairman of Initiatives for Educational Development and Literacy, an international organisation that has trained 17,000 classroom teachers and 10,000 school administrators in Nigeria and Dubai, UAE, spoke with Vanguard after a capacity-building programme for selected private school administrators at the Leads City University, Ibadan. Excerpts:

By Udo Ibuot

WHAT was the vision behind the Ibadan conference?

The International Training and Exposure Conference for School Administrators in Africa, ITECSAA, is a capacity-building programme for school administrators of selected private schools from Nigeria and other West African countries which we successfully held in Leads City University, Ibadan between February 23 and 24, 2021.

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There are three ‘Es’ that are essential for the success of any business in the world: Education, Experience and Exposure. While many school owners in Africa readily possess the first two (education and experience), it has been discovered that many really lack the last one which is exposure. 

This has been the bane of African education over the years! In this 21st Century global age, however, exposure is about the greatest need of African school owners. This is the gap we seek to bridge through this conference: to offer exposure to global best practices in education as it is being practised in developed countries of the world.

The vision behind this conference is internationalisation and globalisation agenda of African schools. This means to internationalise African schools in such a way that they would be positioned to meet up with global standards obtainable in other developed nations of the world. One way to achieve this is through conferences of this nature where they can get the requisite knowledge, exposure and collaboration. 

What is your advice to African governments?

My advice to African governments is for them to rise up, become responsive and set up their own initiatives. Today, we talk about the Russian 2045 initiatives, EU Initiatives and UAE Artificial and Robotic Initiatives. African governments should come up with their initiatives and transform education in a way that will be relevant and functional. 

How will your organisation achieve its mission in the next five years?

In the next five years we are projecting that graduates of Nigeria’s educational institutions will be able to fit in to the global labour market. Currently, our graduates are unemployable. Many of them completed their first degrees and NYSC, and took to tailoring and bead-making. You know why? They don’t have the skill to get global jobs. There are employments globally, what we have is unemployability. Currently, there are vacancies for 1.3 million data scientists all over the world with fat salaries and good conditions of service. 

The question is: how many data scientists have we produced in Nigerian universities. There is a readymade job for robotic scientists all over the world – robotic engineers, robotic instructors, robotic scientists. The question still remains: how many Nigerian universities teach robotics? It is only UNILAG that is doing something close to it. That is automation. They are not even doing robotics. We are producing graduates that have no skills required to get the job of the hour. 

It is not that the jobs are not there. It is because the skills, the knowledge, the certificates that they have are not compatible to foreign demands in the international labour market. In the next five years, we want to see African educational institutions producing graduates that will have future ready skills, that will be able to compete with their counterparts in the world and to do this, the process will have to be completely overhauled.

We need to bring in new mindset, new curriculum, new teaching, new learning process, new planning curriculum, interpretation and new evaluation standards. If these are put in place, we will be able to make our products, which are our students and graduates, marketable in international labour market. In the next five years, we want to see various Nigerian institutions incorporating contemporary latest skills in global educational system.

Were you satisfied with the turnout of participants at the conference?

I was excited about the turn out. It was impressive. We had participants from Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Delta, Akure, Ado-Ekiti, among others. The registration so far reflected the hunger of African school owners and administrators for requisite knowledge that will empower them for global best practices in their vocation. 

We also had participants from neighbouring West African countries. Twenty guest speakers and seven foreign speakers came from Finland, UK, UAE, Spain, India, USA, etc., while 12 high profile Nigerian speakers came. 

They are educational practitioners, industry market leaders and solution providers who combine requisite academic knowledge with practical experience and foreign exposure that are needed for a conference of this magnitude, status and standard. They are all internationally acclaimed speakers from within and outside the country who meet up with the standard for which our international conferences have been known. 

What would your organisation be doing after this conference?

School Growth International will be moving to Ghana next quarter. I was in Ghana last month and had a fruitful discussion with Ghana’s Association of Private Schools. After that, we are moving to Sierra Leone and other Anglo-African countries. We are developing a platform for African Private Schools Association. We believe that African countries are on rungs of the ladder. It’s not about Nigeria. It’s about the Black race.

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