The education system in Nigeria and the rest of Africa needs urgent and radical reforms particularly in terms of the curriculum and approach to learning, if the continent must produce a workforce with the right skill-set to drive industrialization and curb unemployment, experts at the Africa Business Convention have stressed.
Janet du Preez, founder, Of Engagement Dynamics, noted that though the COVID-19 Pandemic brought some disruption and change especially in digital learning, it was still inadequate. “We need to think about the curriculum, we are so stuck in a particular way of delivering education. There is a strong argument for core curriculum, rapid and early specialisation.
“We have to get our population up to speed, to deliver a very high level of education and we need to do that very quickly, we can’t wait for 20 years for this to happen. We need a shift in how we learn, we need a project-based learning technology and action-based learning. We need to capture the spirit of who we are in Africa,” du Preez said.
Rajneesh Narula, director, of the Dunning Africa Centre, informed that the unemployment rate in Africa has increased by 200 million, largely because the system keeps producing a workforce that is unemployable, lacking the appropriate skills for the 21st century.
Narula, while acknowledging that online learning is a good development in the education system, however, pointed out that there is a limit to how much students can learn digitally. According to him, some courses such as medicine and science cannot be effectively taught online. He also said that it is more time-consuming and difficult to communicate online, hence, he advised that physical learning is still very key and focus should not remain on digital learning.
Johnna Herrick-Phelps, vice president online, Champlain College also noted that there are still lingering challenges around access to the Internet and infrastructure across Africa to effectively maximize the opportunities that digital learning presents.
In her submission, Jennifer Ekwueme executive director, Salma Private School disclosed that there is a gap in the quality of learning between private schools and public schools. This according to her will affect the quality of Nigeria’s workforce as private schools only constitute 10% of total schools.
To address this, she urged private schools to adopt public schools especially in rural areas, and introduce digital technology, emotional intelligence, and another advanced form of learning to give other children an equal opportunity.