Buhari legacy

Nigeria must invest in human capital development to achieve impressive growth rates

Over the years, Nigeria has not given much attention to human capital development to post impressive growth rates.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), human capital is an active factor that drives economic growth in every nation. Nigeria’s poor investments in human capital development could be linked to her poor economic growth rates.

Human capital refers to the abilities and skills of human resources of a country, while human capital development refers to the process of acquiring and increasing the number of persons who have the skills, education, and experience that are critical for the economic growth and development of a country. Human Development Index (HDI) is the generally agreed suitable measure of human capital development because it captures the level of education, the standard of living, and health of humans in a country.

Human capital development is crucial to economic growth because humans can think, analyze and solve problems to achieve a more efficient society to yield the desired growth rates and development. The ability of a country to seize the competitive advantage that technology offers depends on human capital development.

Nigeria’s investment in human capital development is unimpressive. The Nigerian education sector has received poor budgetary allocations to run the education system. For instance, in the 2022 budget, the education sector got an allocation of N1.29 trillion (7.9%) out of N16.39 trillion, in the 2021 budget, it got N 771.5 billion (5.68%) out of N13.58 trillion, and in the 2020 budget, it got N671.07 billion (6.7%) out of N10.33 trillion. There are little or no provisions for the training of young Nigerians in vocational trades. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) lamented the poor funding and management of the Nigerian education sector.

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The public primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Nigeria lack the required facilities for learning due to poor funding. The public schools are poorly staffed and lack the required classrooms for their student populations. The employment of teaching staff has been compromised and politicized to allow less qualified teaching academics in the education system.

Following the poor funding of Nigeria’s educational system, some lecturers in the higher institutions do not have the current and required skills to impart knowledge due to the absence of training. As a result, they impart obsolete information to students who become unemployable in the industries. The non-employability of some Nigerian graduates has discredited the Nigerian educational system in the global market. The politicians and wealthy Nigerians send their children and wards overseas to acquire higher knowledge.

Also, the allocation of N876 billion (5.1%) of the N16.39 trillion budgeted expenditure in the 2022 budget is too low for the population of Nigeria. The health and education sectors require higher allocations to work together to make individuals more productive. Making either the health or education sector more important is unproductive as a more educated person who is sick will be less effective than an uneducated person.

The living standard of the majority has been affected by inflation and unemployment, and it has negatively affected human capital in Nigeria. The three components of HDI (level of education, standard of living, and health of humans) are deteriorating in Nigeria.

The Nigerian government must improve budgetary allocations to the education and health sectors. It should establish control systems to ensure budgetary allocations are well utilized, the recruitment of staff into the educational and health institutions is effective and staff regularly trained to promote performance.

Entrepreneurial studies should be taught at all levels in the school system to equip Nigerian graduates with the relevant skills to own and manage their businesses. Government should promote the firms set up by young and old graduates. Internships should be introduced in all disciplines to help students acquire relevant practical experience before applying for jobs in the industries.

Developing Nigeria’s human capital is critical especially now that the country is aspiring to be among the leading economies in the world by the year 2030. Human capital development is a prerequisite for Nigerian graduates to become competitive in the 21st-century global economy driven by skill and knowledge.

Felix Ashakah is an economics lecturer at Western Delta University, Oghara