Ensuring the Future of Nigerian Youths Through Entrepreneurship Education

Ensuring the Future of Nigerian Youths  Through Entrepreneurship Education

Ensuring the Future of Nigerian Youths Through Entrepreneurship Education

“The new global order is a knowledge-driven economy and any country that is knowledge-deficient risks being left behind with adverse
consequences for her people. Nigeria must add value to her natural resources through the application of knowledge because market for such free endowment may shrink, business may collapse but her citizens must not perish because of lack of knowledge and will-power of the government to promote knowledge economy…”

Policy of Education in Nigeria

Education is the bedrock of a nation’s developmental strategy the world over and in consonance with the global truism of the concept, the National Policy on Education (NPE), as a philosophy, is in total harmony with the national goals and aspiration towards a social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological progress of the country in general. Moreover, the policy also spells out in clear and unequivocal terms the objectives and goals that underline the nation’s investment in education. It further defines the purpose of the different types of education in relation to the national developmental plans as the strategic instrument for a value-added change in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, throughout ancient and modern societies, education is the means by which people develop their mental knowledge to think rationally
and systematically so as to respond effectively and creatively to their world of existence and thus satisfy the curiosity and aesthetic impulse of human being. Over the cause of history, education has developed progressively to recognise the value of intellectual exploration of human mind in order to standardise the behaviour of mankind.

The success of developed countries is, however, based on this basic principle and thus the need to provide qualitative education for their children becomes an imperative and non--negotiable task. Nigeria as a nation, therefore, needs to learn from that deliberate policy of developed
world in order to create a well-informed, knowledgeable and modern society.

The present education system in the country needs a complete overhaul as it goes beyond mere discussion. In fact, the government should perhaps declare a state of emergency on education to enable the government, parents, guardians, teachers, service providers and other related stakeholders to go back to the drawing board to re-package an articulate policy to make knowledge economy a major export resource to the
world.

Standard of Education
“The scientific revolution that began some 300 years ago has accelerated exponentially, the learning curve has moved so fast that the spread of knowledge defines our time. Nations that learn faster will prosper and their pool of ideas would triumph over the might of armies in the world affairs. However, in line with the new global economic and technological order, the future will speak less and less of developed, developing and under-developed countries, but more and more about smart, smarter and smartest countries. And of course, victory will indeed go to the smartest nations that make qualitative and relevant education the cornerstone of their knowledge economy, strategy for a value-added change and information democracy…”
Extract from Newsweek Magazine

It is an understatement to state the obvious - that the standard of education in Nigeria is at its lowest ebb resulting in the nation’s rating as the 159th country in the global human capital index. It is, therefore, my considered opinion that the government should be reminded of the universally accepted notion that “Education of a child is a human right and not a privilege or favour”. It is an inalienable right for human capital development to guarantee the future of our children in abundance and thus a sustainable prosperity for the nation.

Over the years, successive governments have bastardised our education system and thus failed to give due attention and priority to funding
education adequately despite its supposed commitment to the National Policy on Education.

The budgetary allocation to education continues to dwindle at an alarming proportion due to organised corruption ineptitude and other infractions in the system of governance at the expense of quality education. Analysis of the yearly budget allocation to education in the last 10 years is below the UNESCO standard of 26% thus leading to unjustifiable poor standard of education averaged at 33% as shown by documented statistics.

Moreover, events and statistics also confirmed that the 3-tiers of government activities are indeed legalised plundering of resources and thus making Nigeria that great fiction of a tale in the moonlight. The resultant effect of absolute insensitivity is, of course, that schools, colleges and institutions are not well funded leading to a decline in the overall standard of education. In summary, education has indeed become a mere political expression with the institutions turning out thousands of educated illiterates, half-baked and unemployable graduates, society urchins, morally bankrupt yahoozee gurus and beauty pageantry laureates every year.

Synopsis on the Academic Performance
The challenge facing the nation’s education sector is an open secret while the continued efforts of the government and other stakeholders to reverse the disastrous trend remain an illusion and a mirage begging for an urgent intervention. There is no gainsaying the fact that our secondary schools need an urgent surgery to rehabilitate them to their past glory of academic excellence laced with moral discipline, ethical performance and quantifiable success story.

However, in order to achieve these core objectives of a better tomorrow for our children, a multi-dimensional approach through a synergy
between the government, Parent Teachers Associations (PTA’s), Old Students Associations, students, religion and community leaders, and other related service providers become imminent to proffer solutions to the fundamental issues beclouding the sector.

Meanwhile, a cursory analysis of the dynamics of academic performance vis-à-vis the fluctuation in the standard of education nationwide speaks for itself as a disaster, while the controversy over the continuous decline is indeed a case study as stated by education experts and independent research organisations.

Critical and comparative analysis of the inter-relationship of the various parameters that determine the state of the nation’s education sector
suggest the need to declare a national emergency in the sector, if need be.

Reference is, however, made to the publications in West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) website and the statistics as shown in the tables below are quite instructive for interpretation. Also documented reports by education experts and researchers on the need to introduce some pragmatic improvement programmes and strategic result-oriented mechanisms as panacea to finding a lasting solution to the decline in the overall academic performance in schools are worthy of mentioning.

Specifically, the experts draw the attention of the policy makers and all stakeholders to the inter-connectedness of Mathematics and English Language with other science-related subjects as a major area that needs urgent attention if the nation is desirous to achieve its Vision 20:20:20 Agenda on scientific and technological breakthroughs.

Table 1: Pass obtained in 5 credits and above in Mathematics and English Language.

Table 1: Pass obtained in 5 credits and above in Mathematics and English Language.
Year Pass % Fail %
May/June 2007 WAEC 23 77
Nov/Dec 2008 NECO 35 65
May/June 2008 WAEC 14 86
May/June 2009 WAEC 26 74
Nov/Dec 2009 NECO 10 90
Nov/Dec 2009 NECO 02 98
Nov/Dec 2010 NECO 20 80
May/June 2010 WAEC 25 75
Nov/Dec 2010 WAEC 20 80
Nov/Dec 2009 NECO 30 70
Source: WAEC website

Youth Unemployment
Significantly, it is important to look at the present status of the nation’s education policy and standard vis-a-vis its relevance in today’s reality. The quality of education is directly related to the quality of its products and their employability potential both local and internationally.
A recent report by International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that the proportion of the world unemployed is increasing steadily and stands
at about 195 million.

The problem of youth employment is very evident in Nigeria as thousands of youths are turned out annually for whom there are no meaningful and/or relevant jobs. The sub-Saharan Africa ranks amongst the highest with an unemployment rate of 10%. Recent statistics as published by the Manpower Board and the National Bureau of Statistics shows that about 122 million youths are unemployed in Africa, out of which 80 million youths are from Nigeria, (64 million unemployed and 16 million under-employed), 41% of persons between ages 15-24 years are unemployed, 17% of persons 25-44 years are unemployed, 24% of persons with secondary education are unemployed while 21% of persons with tertiary education are unemployed.

The implication of this statistics is that joblessness and unemployment ravage the able-bodied youths with either secondary or post-secondary education in Nigeria. Meanwhile, let us take a recent advertisement by Dangote Group as a case study to reflect on the nation’s growing rate of unemployment in today’s harsh economic environment. The Group was looking for 100 trailer drivers but unexpectedly, the total number of 9,170 applications out which 8,460 are BSc holders, 704 MSc holders and 6 PhD’s were received.

The scenario in reference is indeed pathetic and this confirms the changing economic climate and dynamics of unemployment and relevant job
opportunity. Furthermore, the challenges in job market have no respect to both the level of certificates in terms of competitive advantage in
Nigeria of today. It is, therefore, my considered opinion that there is need for a paradigm shift in our education policy in relation to their relevance
under the prevailing circumstance. The need to re-calibrate our educational system to re-align the natural talent of students with their academic
pursuit and passion to make them job creators not certificate-carrying job seekers is sacrosanct.

Entrepreneurship Education for Nigerian youths
Recent studies show that about 75% of pupils who have graduated from primary schools and 50% from secondary schools cannot read a single sentence fluently while 30% of those from tertiary institutions cannot write ordinary job application properly. However, in an attempt to catch them early, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in 2011, included entrepreneurship studies in its newly developed curriculum for secondary schools towards inculcating requisite skills to empower young secondary school leavers.

In developed countries, the initial emphasis placed on the study of science and technology as the key element of a knowledge-driven economy is
now complemented with the introduction of entrepreneurship education right from secondary school to tertiary institutions level for their nation’s
industrialisation and competitive edge.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is far behind such reality because there is no serious effort by successive governments to address this critical issue and its
impact on the techno-economic development of the nation. Emphasis should, therefore, be placed on the establishment of specialised vocational and tertiary institutions with bias for science, ICT and entrepreneurship education in order to fast track the rapid transformation and technological breakthrough of the nation’s economy.

The role of Old Students’ Associations
The Old Students Associations have unquantifiable roles to play in the education of the youth as custodians of the cherished tradition and legacies of the good old days of the schools; specifically in the area of hardwork, discipline, moral, dignity of labour, scholarship and academic excellence. Their roles should be a reminiscence of the call “Coming back to Macedonia” to rebuild and restore the schools to their enviable past glory as centres of academic excellence in a healthy and competitive environment.

Specifically, the Old Students Associations should re-focus their support on service-oriented deliverables especially in the provision of modern
and well-equipped laboratories, libraries with books, journals and magazines on devised subjects, ICT facilities, visuals and other teaching aids.

Other areas of importance include but not limited to funding the schools to train and re-train the teachers on the methodology of modern teaching practice and result-oriented service deliveries, review of the syllabus to re-introduce subjects like History and Civics in order to re-awaken the sub-consciousness of the youth to pick their mentors amongst the living and role models amongst the heroes and heroines of yesterdays who are nation builders, scientists, engineers, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, scholars, researchers, teachers… etc.

Furthermore, the effort of the government in entrepreneurship studies can be actualised through the active support of the Old Students Associations by funding trade and vocational facilities for not just schooling but learning for knowledge and practical skills. It is important to remind the government and all stakeholders that emphasis on entrepreneurship education is the new buzz word in the global order for scientific and infrastructural development.

Entrepreneurship, as the key driver of a nation’s economic development has the propensity to create jobs, wealth and value addition to the quality of life of the citizens. It is also a lifelong learning process that ends only in the grave and therefore, the government and all proactive stakeholders have an enhanced cooperative duty to develop and promote entrepreneurship education in order to prepare the youths to succeed in a production-biased and service-oriented economy rather than the present consumer-based economy of imported products and services.

Available statistics reveal that only 10% of jobs are available for about 25% of the employable quality out of the 400,000 graduates that pass out
from the yearly National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme nationwide. The recipe to this ever-growing number of unemployment of Nigerian youths in the labour market is, therefore, self-employment through development of entrepreneurial skill and application of their natural endowment that centre on talent, ambition, creativity, tenacity and intuition.

Finally, It is important to refer to the World Economic Forum of 2012 where the founder and chairman of the forum, Professor Klaus Schwab,
shocked the world with his declaration that “capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us, rather, the success of any nation
and business model for competitiveness in the future will be less based on capital and much more on talent.” This transition he described as “moving from capitalism to talentism”. In summary, there is no gainsaying the fact that Old Students Associations shall remain relevant as the bridge-builders between the education policy makers and other stakeholders.

Their collaborative effort shall promote synergy in order to ensure the provision of quality and skilful education so as to reverse the poor academic performance and after-school employment potential of the youth. Furthermore, such intervention strategies shall also harness the potential of the youth and ensure that their future is gainfully guaranteed to build a modern and competitive Nigeria of global relevance and academic excellence.

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