Stakeholders Recommend Inclusion of Skills Acquisition in Primary Schools

Uchechukwu Nnaike and Funmi Ogundare​

Stakeholders from public and private sectors recently converged on The Zone, Lagos, for the NEDIS 2022 education innovation summit, aimed at highlighting the role of innovations in solving challenges facing​ the delivery of accessible and quality education.

The summit, hosted by The Education Partnership (TEP)​ Centre, was themed ‘Reimagining the Future of Education in Africa: Bridging the Skills Gap’.

Stakeholders agreed on the need for a paradigm shift from developing infrastructures to ensuring that scholars acquire relevant skills, especially ICT, in primary schools.

Speaking with journalists, the Programme Coordinator for NEDIS,​ Utibe Henshaw, explained the importance of the business of education, ideas sharing, and collaboration to enable the children who are the future to thrive and survive.

“Our intention is to highlight the purpose of education. There is a need that we must think about, and there is a future that will help children to thrive, not just survive,” said Henshaw. “That is what the education system should be about. Parents, guardians communities, and cooperate organisations have a role to play.”

Henshaw noted that “the argument we are making is that skills are developmental in nature,” stressing that learning “Artificial Intelligence (AI), how to do basic maths, for instance, infrastructure is a good investment, but it is not a good indicator of outcome, so skills and competences should be the main driver of education quality.”​

Henshaw added, “What can our children do in 10 years’ time? The child who has gone through nine years of basic education in Nigeria, what kind of skills does he have? Can he communicate, think critically and solve problems? That is the message we want to pass across.”​

The programme witnessed a panel discussion on ‘Moving from ABCs to a Highly Skilled Workforce’, ‘Much Ado About Literacy, 21st Century Skills and Green Education’, and ‘Measuring Progress Towards Sustainable Development in Africa Using Learning Outcome Data’, among others.

In his presentation on ‘Non-state schooling in Northern Nigeria: Implications for Regulations and Partnership’, the Technical Lead on​ Governance of Non-state Systems,​ Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE) programme,​ Dr James Fadokun expressed concern about the massive number of private schools​ especially in some northern parts of the country compared with the public schools, saying that this has implications for teaching and learning, as well as teacher availability in those schools.
“Learning crisis is a challenge in the north because of the massive number. For instance, in Kano, we have 23,000 private schools. It’s even more of a challenge because they are more than public schools,” Fadokun noted.​

He explained that “when you look at the massive number, it has implications for teaching and learning and teachers availability in those schools and knowing where they are, classroom and pupil-teacher ratio which is very massive.”​

Fadokun expressed concern that the situation would “overstretch.”​

“The pupil /teacher ratio is very high in Jigawa state. It is about a ratio of 1 to 153,” he added.

Fadokun, however, stressed the need for the​ government to recruit more teachers and for them also to​ take advantage of the social networks available.

“The ministry of education is bringing in the N-teach to be able to harness some of that capacity back to the school system so that the pupil/teacher ratio will be okay,” he suggested.

A permanent board member of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mr Owolabi Falana, highlighted the board’s efforts to digitalize the teaching and learning process.

To develop education in Africa, he said African governments need to re-strategise their curriculum to support their identified focus areas and develop fit-for-purpose curriculum.
Adekanla Adegoke, the Head of the Oando Foundation and​ Tonia Uduimoh, the Programme Manager, described education as contributing meaningfully to national development and critical for children’s continued learning.
They stressed the need for the private sector to innovate rapidly to ensure a transformation for the good of all.

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