• Friday, March 01, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Human capital development as key to solving Nigeria’s economic challenges

Human capital development

No nation attains sustainable economic growth without developing the human resources necessary to drive such growth. In fact, the development and utilisation of human capital are pivotal to economic productivity and growth.

Given this background, one would expect that any nation with intentions to be in the upper echelons of development would prioritise human capital development. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Nigeria, a nation which has continually failed to invest in her most critical assets – her people.

Nigeria has continued to falter badly on the two key barometers used to measure the development of human capital – education and health. A cursory examination of the Nigerian government’s budgets and expenditure over the past years reveals the nation’s misplaced priorities. The nation continues to fail to fund the both critical sectors, instead expending huge chunks on the remuneration of public officials and subsidy of petroleum products.

The need for the development of any nation’s human capital cannot be overstated. Skilled and healthy human resources are imperative for the economic growth of any nation, and no nation has developed without the prioritisation of the development of its education and healthcare systems.

The challenge of educating Nigeria’s future is a daunting one. Currently, over 10 million Nigerian children are out of school. Furthermore, only 61 percent of 6-11-year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education. In Northern Nigeria, the picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent. Therefore, getting out-of-school children back into education is the first challenge to surmount.

In addition, there is no gainsaying that the entire Nigerian education system is in dire need of a redesign. While the world continues to evolve, the Nigerian education system remains stuck in a dated past. Thus, not only is Nigeria failing to educate a significant portion of its future generation, those being educated are not being prepared for the globally competitive future. Therefore, there is a need to develop a forward-looking education system which caters to all social strata, with a focus on ensuring that future generations possess the necessary technical and soft skills to succeed in an evolving world.

The state of the nation’s healthcare system is not dissimilar to the nation’s education system. While global health policies have undergone tremendous evolution in the past 60 years, the quality of the healthcare delivery system in Nigeria remains terrible and plagued by inadequate funding. Consequently, majority of Nigerian citizens continue to grapple with basic health challenges.

The inefficiencies inherent in Nigeria’s healthcare system are reflected in nation’s health statistics: both maternal mortality and infant mortality in Nigeria are among the highest in the world, while the average life expectancy of Nigerians is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be 54.4. These dismal health indicators aptly illustrate the state of Nigeria’s healthcare system.

All of these illustrate the challenge with Nigeria’s human capital development. The two systems pivotal to the nation’s development – its education and healthcare systems are both in the doldrums. Therefore, if the nation is to attain sustainable development, there is an urgent need for the development of these critical sectors.

There is no gainsaying that the entire Nigerian education system is in dire need of a redesign. While the world continues to evolve, the Nigerian education system remains stuck in a dated past

 

The complexity of the task of developing Nigeria’s human capital necessitates a collaborative approach. Complementary investments and partnerships which leverage the strengths of both public institutions and private operators can help to develop scalable solutions to the nation’s education and healthcare challenges. Furthermore, there is a need for bolder leadership and strategic action within companies and across industries, including partnerships with public institutions and the private sector. These efforts will need to be complemented by policy reform on the part of governments.

In particular, there is a need to develop a forward-looking education system, with a focus on ensuring that future generations possess the necessary technical and soft skills to succeed in an evolving world. Therefore, the Nigerian education system must be redesigned to respond to these challenges and cater to the requirements of the modern world. In addition, the nation’s healthcare challenges must also be swiftly addressed. A healthy and virile workforce are imperative for economic growth and development. Thus, all of these are factors which Nigerian policymakers must take into consideration in order to nation’s human capital and accelerate the nation’s development.

In light of the nation’s desire for accelerated economic growth, sustained investments in education and healthcare are necessities. A nation which fails to prioritize investments in these sectors is only setting itself up to fail. Massive investments in education and healthcare are necessary if Nigeria is to stand a chance at fulfilling its potential and compete in the upper echelons of nations.

If Nigeria fails to get its act in order and reset its priorities vis a vis human capital development, achieving sustained development will be impossible.