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Nigerian education system can’t solve unemployment — Expert

Nigeria’s current educational system is deficiently focused on academic learning rather than problem-solving and innovation, an expert has observed.

He insisted that the nation’s dysfunctional educational system can never tackle its economic and developmental challenges.

According to him, without significant changes to the way education is structured and delivered in the country, efforts to tackle economic challenges and reduce unemployment will be in vain.

The Hope noted that Nigeria’s current educational system is ill-equipped to address the nation’s economic challenges, and that a shift towards technical and vocational education, coupled with decentralization in agricultural finance, is imperative.

Only through such comprehensive reforms can Nigeria hope to reduce unemployment, stimulate economic growth, and ensure a prosperous future for its citizens.

Expert argued that in Nigeria, the overemphasis on university education has led to a glut of graduates with theoretical knowledge but no practical skills.

This has resulted in high unemployment rates, as many graduates are not equipped to meet the demands of the job market.

 The lack of technical colleges and vocational training centers means that even those who complete their education often possess zero skills relevant to today’s economic needs.

Former Senior Special Assistant to ex Ondo State Governor on Agriculture and Agric Business, Pastor Akin Olotu, in an exclusive interview with The Hope, observed that there is a fundamental flaw in Nigeria’s current strategy to tackle its economic issues, and this flaw lies within the educational system.

While emphasising the urgent need for reform, the expert said if we don’t change our educational system, we may be deceiving ourselves to feed the nation.

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His words: “In the 1970s and 1980s, technical colleges played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s economy. These institutions produced skilled graduates who were respected in society and readily absorbed into the workforce. Workshops and industries thrived on the expertise of these technically trained individuals”, he stressed.

Olotu, however, noted that in recent years, there has been a shift towards closing down Polytechnics in favour of Universities, describing the move as detrimental to the country’s economic growth. .

According to him, the contrast with other countries is stark, saying China, for example, is transforming its universities into polytechnics to meet the demands of its economy.

Similarly, in the Netherlands, he explained, only 30 per cent of youths pursue university education, while 70 per cent opt for skills acquisition programmes.

 This focus on technical and vocational training is seen as a crucial component of their economic success.

Olotu added that in Nigeria, research and academic programmes often lack a connection to the real-world economic situation, leading to a waste of resources.

“We have more than enough paperwork and research that does not address our current economic challenges. Another critical issue facing the Nigerian economy is the high-interest rate on loans, which stifles  agriculture.

He criticized the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its policies, which he argued are counterproductive, saying “Agricultural loan schemes have existed since the 1970s, yet recent actions by the CBN have hindered rather than helped farmers.

The expert described commercial banks as unfriendly to farmers, exacerbate the problem with their reluctance to provide affordable loans.

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He recalled the experience of rice farmers in Ondo State, who faced bureaucratic obstacles when applying for loans from the Bank of Agriculture, as the centralized system required them to travel to Kaduna for approval, incurring significant costs and risks.

This, he said, highlighted the inefficiencies of a centralized approach and the need for regionalization.

“Decentralizing agricultural finance and decision-making could provide a solution. By establishing regional offices within the six geographic zones, decisions can be made swiftly, and farmers can access funds more easily. Regionalizing agriculture would mirror the success of historical regional programs like cocoa and groundnut production, which thrived without federal interference.

‘Furthermore, leveraging natural resources within the regions can enhance economic productivity. For instance, the southwestern states could maximize the use of their rivers for year-round farming and fishing through irrigation systems and floating cages. This localized approach would not only boost agricultural output but also align with the expanding market in Lagos, providing a sustainable solution for farmers”, Olotu added.

Nigerian education system can’t solve unemployment — Expert

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