• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Stakeholders deliberate on education funding through PPP at KCOBA lecture

Kings-College

By now we all acknowledge 2020 as a remarkable year for everyone, in every regard, positive and negative. Although the crisis has been more than any we have ever seen in our lifetime, it is a forgone conclusion that this is beyond a health crisis; the socio-economic implications are more far reaching especially in the education sector which is the focus of my submission today. We already had a crisis of sorts within the sector, but the pandemic which resulted in a lot of schools being shut down to embrace virtual learning has unmasked the inequities and deepened the existing problems.

As part of activities to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the founding of King’s College, Lagos, a crop of brilliant minds deliberated on the challenges in the educational sector, the future of education and the way forward. In his keynote address, Professor Yemi Osinbajo GCON; (Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria) set the tone by saying this lecture is not about looking back, it is about the future, and the future is now. We have to acknowledge the main endowment of this, and indeed any country, is its people. He made it clear this generation of young people need to be prepared for a world that thinks and operates differently from what we are used to.

According to the VP; every nation that has prospered has come to accept as a norm that education must lift the mind of the people beyond self; there must be a demonstration of well-established moral standards; corruption and deviance must be the exception not the rule. In his words, ‘’How effectively we are able to educate and empower our people, will determine the outcome of our economic aspirations, and how we are able to compete globally.’’

In her keynote speech, Amina Mohammed; (Deputy Secretary General, United Nations) stated that getting students back into school must be our priority; according to her, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 260 million children globally have been cut off from e-learning, and 5.9 million learners in Sub-Saharan Africa may never return to school due to the lost time, further widening the gaps in the education system. She asserted ‘’this is an opportunity to re-imagine education, and make educational technology and digital capability available and accessible to the most vulnerable societies, including teachers.

For this to happen, education cannot depend on technology controlled by the private sector.’’ She insists the education system cannot develop without trained and motivated teachers, who need to deliver a system that teaches how to respond to the work and societal demands of the future. She implored all to use the recovery of covid to build a better world; a world where the human relationship between student and their teachers is not lost but where required digital tools for open access is paramount.

In a robust panel discussion moderated by Ituah Ighodalo who is the Chairperson of the KCOBA 2020 founders week and which had Gen. Babagana Monguno, (National Security Adviser); Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba; (Minister of States for Education, represented by Architect Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education); Olumide Akpata, (President, NBA); Hakeem Adeniji-Adele; (former Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft) and Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru; (President, Queens College Old Girls Association), as discussants, the key issues were tackled in a deliberate conversation with action points to revolutionise the sector.

What came out quite clearly in all their submissions is the fact that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world and Nigerians are known to be gifted with a mental acuity that is extraordinary so all hands must be on deck if we are to see significant change in the sector. Government resources alone cannot drive education especially with the quality of education we know our people need. All conversations on education will be futile if we fail to adequately carry along all cadres of society, especially the poor, underprivileged, and the girl child. The need for funding to adequately equip the sector could not be over-emphasised.

The President of Queens College Old Girls Association, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru focused on the girl child and the need to instill not just academic skill in our children, but consciously build the right behavioral traits; teachers and parents’ alike need to encourage curiosity, self-worth, self-confidence and courage. Hakeem Adeniji-Adele, as expected, gave his tech-based perspective, reiterating the need to adequately empower the students of today to shape the world of tomorrow. The digital divide is widened so much that children that cannot access digital learning tools may never catch up with their peers who have such access.

On another note, The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, reminded the panel of the fact that discussions on Public Private Partnerships for Unity schools, (of which Kings College is one), have been in the works for almost 15 years; he insists this as a solution to funding for the education sector. Indeed, the King’s College Old Boys Association (KCOBA) have between them distinguished personalities that can set the college on the track to being one of the best in the world and altruistic investments from private investors can help raise the bar.

Representing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Chief of Staff; in his words, “The Federal Government is interested in the outcomes of these deliberations.’’

After all is said, we cannot help but agree with the UN Deputy Secretary General when she said; The future of education, and the future of society, are inexorably linked….and tackling the issues within that sector is a challenge for you, me and the collective whole.

Dapo Akintoye

Dapo Akintoye, a marketing consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.