By Funmi Ogundare
President of the Royal Geographical Society , Baroness Lynda Walker of Wallassey, has called for a policy and structural reform that would improve people’s livelihoods in education and create jobs that will impact their socioeconomic wellbeing .
She said this can only be achieved by building good education across the country, especially for girls which spurs exponential positive effects on social and economic development for generations to come.
Walker who made this known, recently, in a lecture titled, ‘Africa in a Competitive World: Business and Investment’, during a programme organized by Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, in her honour, stressed the need for human capacity development through education and skilling.
According to her, “Increasing levels and quality of education will be essential to raising productivity across all sectors. This means increasing funding to education.”
She expressed concern about the poor budget allocation to education and the staggering figure of out- of-school children in the country saying, “The United Nations has specified that at least 26 per cent of a country’s budget should be devoted for education, without which no meaningful improvement will be seen. As it stands now, the fraction is less than 10 per cent.
“UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) says that Nigeria is still home of the world largest out-of -school children. Of the staggering 10.5 million out-of -school children in Nigeria today, the majority are girls. Girls education is good economics which is the best investment in a country’s national development. Educating girls enhances growth rates and reduces social disparities.”
The president said there is need to pair up computer literate youths who are proficient in ICT, with older people in business , adding that this is what is being deployed in other countries that will boost the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun in his remarks called for an investment in tertiary education if universities in the country is to champion the innovations and technology that will bring about an increase in global manufacture and ensure sustainable development.
“There is no denying the fact that tertiary education in our country today, leaves much to be desired. If we are to construct that functional linkage between higher education and industry, for us to produce the graduates that industry require, to build a knowledge-driven economy, investment in tertiary education is an urgent undertaking.
He stressed the need for government to revert to recruiting the best brains on graduation to man the bureaucracies and enhance the capacity for policy formulation and implementation.
Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola emphasised on the lecture delivered by the Baroness, noted that Africa needs to stand out tall to be competitive in the business world.
He identified three variables needed to stay afloat in a competitive world to include leadership, education and ability of the country to tackle corruption.
“Firstly, leadership has to do with families, universities and faculties, as well as at all levels, we must strive to get it right despite the blight , then if we are able to do this, we can stay afloat in a competitive world. Secondly, education cannot solve all societal problems, but without it, no solution is possible. Thirdly, if we are able to tackle corruption of Africans in business, it will have been significantly addressed’”
The Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the youths must in with a reorientation that their destiny is in their hands, noting that though corruption has eaten deep into the polity, there is need for them to be determined and disciplined to put the right people in government and tackle the issue of corruption headlong.