Union Bank’s Edu360 Initiative to Foster New Collaborations in Education

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Funmi Ogundare

Education stakeholders, including teachers, parents, school owners, investors, students and other key participants recently converged on Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos for the first Union Bank annual education fair, edu360, tagged ‘Investing in the Future’, designed to accelerate development and the much needed investment in the sector.

The two-day programme also served as a platform for collaboration among stakeholders.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr. Emeka Emuwa reiterated its commitment to education as the bedrock of national development, adding that the edu360 is positioned to be the leading education platform in the country, facilitating collaboration among stakeholders within the sector.

“There is a lot of work to be done and we believe that the private sector, working closely with the government and other stakeholders, can play a critical role in fast tracking solutions to move the education sector forward and preparing youths for the future.”

In her keynote address, the Managing Director of The Education Partnership (TEP) Centre, Dr. Modupe Olateju-Adefeso highlighted the linkages between education and national development and drew examples from the health sector.

She said education is a platform for national development which provides the skilled workforce, and expressed concern that the health sector is suffering greatly as a result of the mass exodus of professionals to other countries.

“The fact is that there is mass exodus of our healthcare sector to other countries and the reality is that training and education have a fundamental role to play in the development of the healthcare workforce and if we are not training our healthcare professionals appropriately, if we are not reducing the entry barriers for them, if we are not equipping them with skills and technology that they need for the 21st century, then there is no way we are going to improve as a nation.”

On the issue of capital flight, she said: “Today there are about 4,000 Nigerians working in the UK and other countries. Interestingly, Nigeria is a developing country and the countries we are subsidising are developed simply because we are not completing the training of our doctors, they are leaving Nigeria to complete their training and they are not coming back. We are subsidising because we should have invested in training them but they go abroad to improve their healthcare.”

Olateju-Adefeso stressed the need for the country to create an enabling environment and a curriculum that is 21st century compliant that will allow Nigerian doctors to be globally competitive without necessarily going abroad.

The Head of Commercial Banking, Mr. Adekunle Sonola said the education sector is in need of an intervention that would grow people and enhance the future of tomorrow, adding that the bank has been supporting schools by financing their infrastructure.

“The experience has been phenomenal. We are partnering to ensure that we discuss schools’ financial needs.”

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the programme was auspicious because education deserves global attention that would ensure that the country gets maximum benefits.

He spoke on the theme, ‘Quality Education Investing in Our Future’, saying that education contributes to peaceful coexistence, eradicates hunger, ignorance, illiteracy and enhances learning.

He called for an urgent intervention by the private sector through advocacy, funding, sponsorship of research and professorial chair, among others, adding that government cannot handle education alone.

Over 200 teachers from public and private schools benefited from free training sessions as part of the bank’s drive to upskill the workforce of the important sector. The teachers also received free teaching aids to support them.

There were also digital training sessions for parents and students courtesy Google, in addition to coding and robotics classes.