Ighodalo, Peter Obi, Others Blame Buhari, Say Failed Education System Driving Nigerians Abroad

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Call for 10% increase in sector’s budget
The Chancellor of Wellspring University, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, have berated President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria’s failed educational system.

They countered Buhari who had earlier stated in Paris on Friday that the competitiveness Nigerians display abroad is a result of the good education they acquired before travelling out of the country.

They said the nation’s failed system contributed largely to the number of Nigerian students leaving the country to study in the US and UK.

They made this submission during a chat with the Vice Chancellor of Wellspring University, Prof. Isaac Ajayi, on the ‘Future of Education in Nigeria’, at Wheatbaker Hotel, Lagos.

Statistics indicate that Nigerian students have contributed about N210. 2 trillion to the US economy, and a recent report by an educational platform, Erudera, shows that the US hosted a total of 13,762 students for the 2019/20 academic year, which represent 93 per cent of Nigerians on academic tourism in the US.

The report also shows that in the 2018/19 academic year, Nigeria came 11th place among nations with the highest number of international students in the US, representing 1.2 per cent of the total number of international students in the US.

Ighodalo said the reason students go to study abroad is lack of innovation and investment in the educational sector and its focus on rote learning.

He said: “We have about 12 to 13 million children out of school. How can we be doing well in education when graduates leave school and are not employable, here, in Nigeria? Everyone is escaping to Canada, England. And when they go to those countries, they re-enroll for another course to be able to fit in.

“I know graduates of accounting and business who have gone to America to learn nursing and are working as nurses, even though they graduated in economics or accounting in Nigeria. America knows what they need is nurses,” he said.

On his part, Obi said Buhari and political office holders have failed the country by not improving the quality of education. He urged the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to provide funding for private universities.

Ajayi described 10 per cent budgetary allocation on education as alarming.
He said learning remains difficult with no access to textbooks and quality facilities for teaching. According to him, this has made learners study under stringent situations to pass exams.

He noted that the system of education in the country is not producing any effect on the economy and that academic institutions are only pushing out graduates that cannot address issues.

He said the entire curriculum should be re-addressed, which, according to him, Wellspring has been doing; ensuring it is skills based, emphasises innovation and certification in ICT.

“Education is so critical and vital that government must invest in it. I was in Latin America, and when I entered into their classroom, I was surprised. In fact, some of the labs I saw in the US are bigger than many of our industries. If we must have a kind of education that will propel us to greatness, every citizen must be educated. And there is no amount of money too much for the Federal Government to achieve quality education,” he said.

Reacting, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, lamented that the current system is “too exam focused”.

She said: “This really tells a story but (is) not good enough. We have students who are specialised in passing exams. This would mean we are churning out graduates that are not relevant to the economy.”