GNVEN the employability and skills gap crises in the country, it is pertinent to emphasise the need to recalibrate our educational system to mainstream technical, vocational and entrepreneurial education in all stages of education. The reality that should bother every concerned Nigerian is that the subsisting relic of colonial education that only prepared our people mainly for white collar jobs is no longer workable. The cheese has since moved from the traditional station and our educational system must be responsive so as to equip our teeming youths for this challenge. We hope that the revolution we are leading at the First Technical University will spread and ginger other stakeholders to infuse technicality, practicality, innovation and entrepreneurship into the currently theoretical widespread offerings. It is certain that the only way to stimulate productivity, promote technological development and kindle economic growth, is to nurture the creative potentials of our young people. We must provide the right ambience that would enable them hone their skills in science, technology and humanities.
Expectedly, this laudable approach has extensive implications for the pedagogy we currently employ in our educational policy. We must now emphasise a learner-centred model, train our young people to ask questions and challenge the axiom, develop learners’ critical thinking capacities, create knowledge pools, interactive platforms and involve relevant participants from the larger society. Equally central to the proposed transformation paradigm, is the urgent need to bridge the yawning divide that currently exist between our ivory towers and the industry. We must realise that there is no way we can have the kind of quantum leap that we desire without a synergy among these two critical sectors of the society. Institutions, who by their very nature, are a sacred temple of experimentation and knowledge production for development, must now link up with the public/private sectors to work out ideas founded on sound theoretical frameworks.
Whereas it is easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges that currently stare us in the face, it is important to state that this is about the best time to be a youth. The opportunities around you abound. All you need is the courage to see through the darkness and catch the brightness that await you at the end of the tunnel. Take responsibility, and decide what your contribution would be to make the society better. Deploy your unique gifts and talents. You must realize that in the midst of the gloom of the current challenges lies the opportunity for you to emerge from the rubbles as a significant force in this generation.
While I encourage you to take good opportunities and globalise your thinking and training, you must never abandon your cultural heritage. That is your identity and claim to uniqueness in the alluringly competitive global space. Through deliberate commitment to life-long learning, beyond the limits of the four walls of an academic institution, you owe yourself, your family, our nation, the African continent and indeed, the world at large the obligation to develop the requisite intellectual and psychological capacity needed for the transformation of our world. While the educators are preparing world-class platforms for better education, you must come into institutions well prepared for the kind of education you desire. You must completely eschew fraud and cheating during qualifying examinations, read ahead and develop genuine passion for the kind of learning that brings national transformation. Similarly, take time to develop relational skills to properly integrate other ideas, cultures, attitudes and paradigms that are replete in today’s interactive world.
We must get education right in our nation. It is the main opportunity the older generation has to deliberately transmit accumulated knowledge, skills and values to the younger ones. We must evolve a system that adequately prepares our youth for both global relevance and local impact. We need to promote intense intellectualism in concord with a sense of civic responsibility that embraces collaboration instead of unhealthy competition. We must also promote honesty, synergy, diligence, innovation, technical expertise, entrepreneurship and deliberately reward excellence. I call on all stakeholders to join hands in transforming our educational system. It is the surest way to move our society from mediocrity and limitations into enlightenment and sustainable development.
- Salami is the Vice Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier Technical University, First Technical University, Ibadan.