The apex professional body for education practitioners in Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to collaborate with academicians, educationalists and professionals in the innovative industry to proffer solution to the economic challenges facing the nation.
This charge was given at the 31st annual congress of the Nigerian Academy of Education held in Owerri, the capital of Imo State in south eastern Nigeria.
Addressing the gathering, Professor Ikenna Onyido, a one-time Vice Chancellor of the Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike and presently the Director Centre for Sustainable Development, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka said that “if truly the Federal Government is committed in getting the desired change that it professes for the Nation, educationalists and academicians are the true and inevitable agents that could partner with the government.
He is optimistic that the partnership would provide home-grown solutions to the problems of economic development, environmental degradation and social cohesion facing the country.
While speaking on the theme ‘Education for Sustainable Development in Nigeria’, the erudite professor said for Nigeria to attain maximum level for sustainable development “there is need to change the way we think and act which require quality education and learning for all levels.
“The change that Nigeria needs is the one that will be diligently pursued and effected in the classrooms and other learning contexts by academicians and educationalists who are grounded in the knowledge and innovation industry”.
Delivering the keynote address, Professor Ikenna Onyido urged the Federal Government to collaborate with scholars and academicians in the innovation industry if the government was serious in achieving the change it desires.
Present Economic Recession
He added that, as innovators and professionals in impacting knowledge, they remained the change agents who should be properly equipped, adequately remunerated and sufficiently motivated to really drive home the needed change the federal government proffers.
“What can we learn from this allegory about the development of Nigeria? We learn that the primitive mind cannot deliver good governance, which is responsible for many of the problems that constitute underdevelopment. This is where education comes in. Where you and I are involved and where the Nigerian Academy of Education has its functional relevance cut out for it, at the very foundation of development.
“In fact, the overall well-being of a nation is fully dependent on the quality of education on offer and the proportion of the population that has been exposed to it. Nehru, the great Indian statesman who laid the foundation for much of the economic development that India is making today, recognised this fact when he said that: ‘All is well with a nation if its universities (educational institutions) are in good shape and functional’,” he told the gathering.
Professor Onyido also said “the role of education in development, which been the starting point for the translation of countries from backwardness to economic development, from dependence to economic independence, appears to have been totally lost on our leaders, across the decades”.
On the economic recession facing the nation, Professor Onyido said: “We reasoned that lack of sustainability feeds into underdevelopment as well and noted Nigeria’s appalling and woeful record in sustainability.
“We also observed that societies that accorded the highest premium and priority to knowledge also happen to be the societies that fostered economic development.
“We also observed that backward nations that leapfrogged into economic development had the benefit of political leaderships that believed in knowledge as an inalienable resource for development and who led the charge by mobilising, motivating and challenging their nation’s innovation systems to produce applicable knowledge and innovation that were turned into goods and services.
“We made the additional point that underdeveloped societies had to dig deep into their endogenous resources of knowledge and innovation to find answers to their economic and social challenges,” Professor Onyido said.
Lack Of Implementation
In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Education, Professor Udogie Ivowi, identified lack of implementation, insufficient financing, and lack of political will as some of the major problems facing Nigeria’s educational system.
He also urged teachers to key into the digital age of teaching and learning that gives room for ICT compliancy.
“Consequently, implementation has remained a serious problem in educational development in Nigeria.
“This is validated by the insufficient display of political will on the path of educational authorities including government and other proprietors of educational institution.
“Added to this is the new digital age of learners whose teachers belong to the analogue age, for relevance in the digital age and to sustain whatever innovation arises from efforts and curriculum functionality. Teachers need to do a lot in terms of ICT knowledge and application,” Professor Ivowi pointed out.
While delivering his speech, the Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who was represented by the State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Getrude Oduka, called for the support and partnership of all in stakeholders in education to move the sector forward irrespective of the challenges facing the sector at the moment.
“I believe that it’s a challenge to all of us either as individual or as a group, the onus lies on us for us to know what to do to make sure that we get it right and there’s no other person to do it for us.
“There is something I normally say, I say for those who believe that they have gathered the knowledge, for those who believe that they are professors, doctors and educationalists, if you continue to run away from the assignment that God has designed you to do, the essence of gathering the knowledge is for you to impact it into another situation, if we continue to run away, the mediocre will continue to make the policies that we must surely execute,” Mrs Oduka said.
The Nigerian academy of education which is the highest professional body for practitioners in education facilitates interaction and communication among education stakeholders through its annual congress.
It also serves in advisory capacity to various governments of the federation and the promotion of high standards at all levels of educational system.
Hopefully, deliberations and recommendations put forward from the gathering of scholars would be useful for the government in this critical period in the nation’s history.