Education and tech policy suggestions for Nigerian President-elect

As someone who has advised government officials and supported digital transformation in over 10 Nigerian states for the past two years, including sitting on the advisory board for various state government interventions on youth, education, and international investment, I am well-versed in the challenges facing our country. One recent project I worked on was with the Enugu state government to provide education to 10,000 individuals and create the Enugu Tech City, which included a student loan model that supported over 5000 young people. I understand the importance of student loans, particularly on a large scale, as highlighted by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

While these challenges are specific to Nigeria, I would like to offer a Pan-African perspective. With a middle class that has tripled over the past 30 years, Africa has a unique opportunity for growth and development. While poverty remains an issue, the rise of the digital ecosystem and young people with access to the internet and the power to effect change offers hope for the future. By taking the right steps, we can make a significant impact on the lives of 100 million young people in Nigeria within the next four years.

To that end, I propose the following five recommendations to disrupt the landscape of youth engagement and education:
Establish a Pan-African Digital University: Traditional universities are not equipped to meet the demands of employers today, and efforts to change the political dynamics with ASUU will be difficult. Instead, we need a non-traditional approach that allows individuals like Usman from Kano to learn skills from the comfort of their own homes, paying weekly or monthly with the option of a student loan. This university should be branded as a global institution with accreditation from European and American universities.

Student Loans: There are banks and other financial institutions that are ready to fund education, but we need to create a brand around student loans and popularize them through a triangular partnership. The CBN should incentivize banks to fund education on a larger scale, and banks should partner with micro-educators to make lending accessible in just 10 minutes. A single checkout technology would allow individuals to access loans from any bank and learn from any organization.

NYSC Apprenticeship: We should nationalize apprenticeship programs and encourage employers to absorb recent graduates with certain tech skills. These organisations should be incentivized to take on apprentices at scale, as there is currently a talent war for individuals with the necessary skills. The connection between the digital university and the apprenticeship program is evident.

Tax Incentives for Educating Youths at Scale: Many organisations have internal training programs that are successful. These companies may not be training organizations, but they have developed internal training models that produce excellent results. Tax incentives could be offered to organisations that are part of a structured system and train young people with certain skills. The presidency should work with state governments to drive adoption of these programs.

Strengthening Universities: Universities should build more relationships with employers and establish innovation labs. Each school should have around 50 major partners driving their innovation labs. Specific student funding and sponsorship should be available for the best students who are creating innovative products and ideas. The government should also consider creating a Presidential Award for Innovation.

By implementing these recommendations, we can disrupt the landscape of youth engagement and education and improve the lives of millions of young people.

.Ogunmola is the CEO of Utiva

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