For Nigeria to become a maritime hub in the West African region, the Federal Government must integrate maritime into the country’s primary and secondary school curriculum, experts have said.
Speaking at the opening session of MWP’s 3-day Creative Writing Bootcamp held in Lagos recently, Ezinne Azunna, the project coordinator of Maritime Writes Project (MWP), said Nigeria is unlikely to fulfil its aspirations to be a leading maritime nation without imbibing maritime heritages and literature in primary and secondary school education.
“The maritime industry contributes a lot to the Nigerian economy and global trade. Trade is part of the maritime industry, and we are all dependent on trade to survive. If a sector contributes hugely to the Nigerian economy, I think it’s time we focus on it. The industry has over 100 professions in it, yet we are looking for youth empowerment. The maritime industry can provide that bridge.
“If we have maritime education infused into our curriculum, it means we are owning our maritime space, and this will enable us to do things differently. For a while, Nigeria has been trying to get into the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Governing Council, we can position the nation better by prioritising elementary maritime education,” she said.
She said that in the comity of maritime nations, the most successful shipping nations are those that own their maritime space by developing literature and other learning approaches in their educational system.
“In my quest to put together the faculty, we talked to a psychologist and consultant at the University of Texas, who has done a lot of work on Nigeria, and she observed that the absence of the literature in a particular sector means that the society does not accept those professions,” Ezinne added.
Also speaking, Taiwo Nolas-Alausa, the head of the Faculty, Maritime Writes Project, said the initiative is focused on promoting the Nigerian maritime sector by highlighting how it has enhanced the nation’s economy.
He reaffirmed the call for integration of maritime in Nigeria’s educational curriculum, even as he narrated the success story of a beneficiary of the Maritime Writes Project, Uchenna Ohiaeri whose maritime literary exploits bagged her a scholarship for the African Leadership Academy (ALA) for a 2-week all-expense paid trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
“This year’s edition is strategically positioned during the summer holidays. We can see the fruits ourselves. Our goal is to birth the next literary exploits in the mould of Chimamanda Adichie, Chinua Achebe, and Wole Soyinka, among other great literary scholars,” he said.
Taiwo called on the government, and private organisations to prioritise the development of young people to enable them to become assets to the nation and the world.
Murtadho Musa, one of the participants, expressed optimism that the training would enable him to sharpen his skills as a budding writer.
The 14-year-old secondary school student, however, added that his dream to become a lawyer has already taken a new shape as he now intends to become a maritime lawyer.
“I have learned several things about writing today and I’m definitely going to be imbibing what I have learned to enable me to write better stories and good projects especially about maritime,” he said.