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Sept 2019

 

Quality, affordable education, skills development, access

and equal opportunities for everyone


More than ever, the advent of the knowledge economy and global economic competition compel governments to priorities educational quality, lifelong learning and the provision of educational opportunities for all. Policymakers widely accept that access to information and communication technology (ICT) in education can help individuals to compete in a global economy by creating a skilled work force and facilitating social mobility. It has been argued extensively that each century has its unique challenges and educational qualification and requirement, which must evolve as well. The 20th century educational system was designed to prepare people to work in offices and farms, and unfortunately, we still run this type of educational system in 21st century, when we have spaceships, electric, driverless cars, internet of things and where human intelligence has now turned to artificial intelligence (AI); and much more. In this era, of constant learning and skills development, education is not exclusive to school for one to be knowledgeable, in fact, even those that go to school, what they learn from school become out-dated quickly. We now have access to smart phones, which gives us access to a more computing power and information so, access to education has never being so level as it is today yet large number of our youths are illiterates. In today’s job market, “we no longer need workers who can retain and reproduce large amount of information, what we need are people who can sort through information and organize or use them effectively. We need new form of intelligence: learning must be reformed to enable us change the way we see and approach the world”.  If we can strategically subject our educational system to individual’s passion, style of learning and their chosen timeframe, we would be surprised by what we can learn within short time. If we can judge people by their skills, application, comprehension and motivations, we would have unemployment rate reduced significantly. People might have failed to score good grade, but they can be so creative and motivated to apply the skill. 

As postulated, once we subject employment to grade, then everyone will compete for the grade instead of skills and comprehension, and without skills, people will have to keep waiting for the diminishing white-collar jobs, and more graduates are being produced daily, flooding the labour market, unemployment rate rising. The competition should be on skill acquisition, talent, access, opportunities and knowledge application, and to do this, one would need shorter period of time, and would not actually have to go to school all the time. In this century, the emphasis should be on innovation and creativity; and the ability to apply the knowledge with tenacity.  Technology has replaced human requirement for growth, so human beings must do what machines cannot do, and this cannot be achieved by just competing for who can remember facts better. Life skills have changed due to technological advancement, new economies and opportunities. So, school’s curriculum must prepare students for these, otherwise, the students will remain unemployed. Most of the skills you would need on a job are not being taught in classrooms, and that’s why most job seekers are not fit for job. That’s why we have high structural unemployment. On the other side, we have people who didn’t finish school or do not rely on their certificates creating jobs, and even employing the graduates, example is the Billionaire Bill Gates founder of Microsoft. 

It is sad that instead of being a good fortune, however certificate metamorphosis into a source of misery for many Nigerian young graduates; it blocked their view of the world, they completely loss sight, and totally blind to the fortune around them, thereby unable to utilised the prolific opportunities knocking on their doors. Creativity is gone; skills are dissipating; vision is blurry, confidence is eroding; ideas and reasoning are disappearing, innovation and inventiveness is lost in the brain of most of these graduates. It is disturbing and even pity watching these contemporary graduates wasting their precious time looking for a job whose take home pay can't afford to put a decent meal on their table.

Conclusively, conventional schooling is an out-dated system, education is the new system, and for education to take place, you don’t need conventional schools. So, to address illiteracy, we have to create education beyond school taking the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications (ICT). Schools do not have space capacity to accommodate educational needs. In fact, most of the valuable education is not acquired in school. School learning system is not always fair, because it teaches us what we don’t need, and it only teaches us what to learn, but not how to learn. School grades makes us redirect our energy towards grade competition instead of skill competition, and as a result graduates become unemployable. There are no enough opportunities to absorb the graduating students, they have to be trained to create the opportunities for themselves, and otherwise, we will forever have unemployment on the rise. So, we have to reform our school system and our perception about school and taking benefits of new technologies, especially “ICT” (UN). Moreover, while not mentioned explicitly in the education for all goals, arguably ICT plays a pivotal role in achieving these goals, including broadening access, eliminating exclusion, and improving quality (UNESCO). That is why, more than ever, there is the need for a comparative analysis of ICT integration and e-readiness in schools across the Arewa region.

Recommendation

  • The global economy is changing and affecting the way Region needs to plan its economic and social growth in that new economy. In this regard, ICT infrastructure underpins the knowledge economy of the so-called ‘Information Society’. Several issues in the global environment have impacted and will continue to shape the regional environment (skills, innovation and creativity; and the ability to acquire knowledge from anywhere), therefore for a sustainable economic development of Arewa region, the States within the region must come together in a concerted way to formulate the Arewa Regional Information and Communication Technology for Development Strategy (AR-ICT4DS) or more appropriately to be named Arewa Regional Digital Development Strategy (AR-DDS), to acknowledge the vision for the entire Region
 
 

 

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