Nigeria was outflanked by its African peers in the 2023 global skills rankings owing to its poor educational system and low human capital development, experts in the sector have said.
In the global skills report 2023, Nigeria ranked 100 behind 15 other African countries and sits at the bottom of the ladder of the ranked countries.
The report presented data on 100 countries drawn from Coursera’s registered learner base of more than 124 million learners concentrating on three of the most popular job-relevant skill domains, business, technology, and data science.
Botswana, in 29th position, is the best-ranked African country, followed by Rwanda in 52nd position. Zambia is ranked 58th, Egypt 61st, Ethiopia 72nd, Cote d’Ivoire 75th, Zimbabwe 77th, South Africa 86th, and Tunisia 87th.
Others are Uganda in the 90th position, Algeria 91st, Somalia 93rd, Sudan 96th, Ghana 97th, Kenya 98th and Nigeria in the 100th position.
Michael Ukonu, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said education in the country is declining due to poor funding.
“The standard of learning has fallen across the board, and this calls for action on the part of the government. Besides, the issue of overemphasis on degree certificates is another factor affecting skills acquisition among Nigerian youth,” he said.
He said the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been championing the fight for proper funding of the universities.
“There have been ongoing strikes by tertiary institutions for over a decade on poor funding and other issues,” he said.
Rwanda, one of the countries ranked ahead of Nigeria, is known to have invested in skills academies in partnership with private sectors.
The programme provides people in impoverished communities with free internet devices and online training for digital jobs.
Rwanda is one of the top-performing countries in education on the continent with 98 percent of its children enrolled in primary schools.
Ukonu urged the government to adopt the Rwanda model to prepare youths for future skills.
Sunday Adebisi, a professor of entrepreneurship hub and strategic management at the University of Lagos, said the economic difficulties in Nigeria might have been responsible for just 1.7 million Coursera learners so far in the country.
He maintained that Nigerian youths are exploring other platforms where digital learning can take place without a cost, but affirmed that the ranking calls for total evaluation.
“Though I agree with the fact that this present ranking index calls for a holistic evaluation of Nigerian youths’ interest in acquiring global best practices skills, it is then the responsibility of the leadership of the nation, parents, and the youth themselves to be more open to the acquisition of the fourth industrial revolution skills that will enhance the youths’ access to decent jobs to be globally competitive,” he said.
The don said to change the negative narrative, it may be quite important for Coursera to work with Nigerian institutions to work out specific scholarships and other incentives to further encourage high enrolment for an improved ranking of Nigeria in the future.
Stanley Alaubi, a senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, blames the government and the education system for the lag.
“Our curriculum is not working, the government is not helping matters. The government is not encouraging individuals to acquire skills,” he said. “We have left the point of dignity in labour, and until we incorporate and encourage skills acquisition the country would continue to lag.”
Countries where learners have competitive and cutting-edge overall skill proficiency scores have higher average internet scores than countries where learners have lagging and limited scores, highlighting the role of internet and online learning in driving economic growth, said the report.
According to Carleton Education, the leadership in Botswana accomplished a massive transformation of the system of governance and developed an effective process for making economic policy in a very short period.
“These changes laid the basis for a record of economic and political success unmatched in Africa or most of the developing world,” it said.
In Botswana, every child is guaranteed a free primary and secondary school education subsidised by the government.
Botswana’s diamond industry made education a top priority in conjunction with the government, hence, the country has rapidly become one of the fastest-growing economies through its education policy.
In Egypt, education is compulsory for eight years between the ages of six and 14. All levels of education are tuition-free at all government schools and institutions.
According to the Egyptian constitution, basic education is compulsory. Schools run by the state are free of charge at all levels of education.
In Ethiopia, public education is free at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Primary education is offered for eight years and is compulsory between ages seven and 12.