• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo


What actually matters

What actually matters

A few years ago, while in the waiting room of a clinic, I saw an article in one of the newspapers that caught my attention. I instantly snapped a picture of it and sent it to my wife with the caption, “Baby, just as I’ve been saying”. The supposed article wasn’t really an article at all though but a short quote by Professor Muyiwa Falaiye, the Dean of Arts at the University of Lagos at the time and it went like this:

”Over 60 per cent of those in universities today ought not to be there in the first place; they ought to be somewhere else. Unless we have a change of mindset about this, things will remain the same.”

I’m reminded of something my late father once told us. He regaled us with so many wonderful stories; some hilarious, some tinged with a little sadness but all instructive and pregnant with wisdom. He said his mum one day came to him and it was evident by her demeanour that she wanted to say or enquire about something. He recognized the pained look of hesitancy on her face so he knew he would need to draw her out on this one. Ever so gently, he asked her with all the respect an African child could muster to ask his doting mother if anything was the matter. At first, yet unable to speak but by the mere shaking of the head she managed to gesture “no”.

Suddenly it burst out as if to contain it a second longer would choke her, “Babafemi, when will you too attain the scholarly heights that will require you to wear glasses?” I paraphrase in English. Daddy almost fell off his chair! Not to appear as if he was mocking his illiterate mother’s ignorance, he quickly pulled himself together. He later came to realise that her reluctance to just come out with it was because in spite of her burning desire to see her son become “eeyan nla”(a successful person) she didn’t want to appear to belittle her “village boy done good” commendable achievements.

Many parents in Nigeria are pushing their children towards a path that may not be in their interest, leading to a gap in their development.

Many parents in Nigeria are pushing their children towards a path that may not be in their interest, leading to a gap in their development. This may be due to autopilot, following the crowd, or the misconception that a university degree is the only way to separate “men” from “boys.” While university education plays a crucial role in advancing the nation, there is a gap in the property development sector where over 100 billion naira was spent last year on foreign masons.

This is not due to inherent abilities but rather due to better training. The typical Nigerian parent wants their child to acquire a university degree, but not all are suitable for it. For some young individuals, a purely academic pursuit may not be their thing, and coercing them to university may be detrimental. A more practical training combined with classroom education may be more suitable for them.

Read also: Parents get $2,500 cash per new born in Hong Kong, but they need more

The author believes that Nigeria needs a complete overhaul of its mindset to become a progressive nation. They suggest that Nigeria should focus on substance and content, rather than frivolities like appearance. The country’s status as an import-dependent nation is not only limited to the importation of goods but also the importation of expatriates. This is due to a lack of Nigerians with the technical expertise needed for the country’s goals.

The author also suggests a more serious look at the dual education system, a model made famous by Germany. This model has been successful in several countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, Malaysia, and India. The author also notes that Germany and Austria have the lowest unemployment rates among European Union countries, despite having high-level skills. The author suggests that this is not a coincidence but a significant step towards achieving progress.

Dual education at vocational training colleges or cooperative universities combines theory with practical experience. Students/trainees may spend two days attending lectures at the college and three to four days working as trainees in a relevant business or industry. The company pays the student/trainee an allowance, which is mitigated by the benefits it gains from the trained apprentice.

The government could consider providing tax breaks to participating companies to encourage increased participation and provide additional incentives. This would help the government benefit from increased skilled labour and reduced unemployment rates, ultimately benefiting the overall economy.

In the countries that practise this scheme, the great majority of participating companies regard vocational training as the best form of personnel recruitment as they not only save on recruitment costs but it guards against eventually hiring the wrong people. Of course the student too benefits immensely by getting market relevant training while also receiving the right academic training.

It provides a win-win situation for all as the society too is able to bridge the potential gap of technical expertise. In Germany, this system is so highly regarded, having been credited as a major catalyst to the nation taking its seat at the top of the industrial tree. It’s worthy of note that about fifty percent of all school leavers in Germany participate in this program.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time