Industrialization and 6-3-3-4 education

The official launch of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) by President Goodluck Jonathan on February 11, 2014 was a monumental achievement for Nigeria. If there is any one particular factor for sustainable national economic development that Nigeria needs it is massive industrialization. The beginning of genuine organised industrialization of Nigeria will undoubtedly herald the new dawn of the era of Nigeria’s much desired and well-deserved real growth, development and greatness. That is reason for this thumb up for government’s launch of an industrial revolution plan.

The nitty-gritty of the plan is not the primary interest of this discourse. One is bothered with the availability or not of the necessary human capital for driving real industrialization. Also agitating one is Nigeria’s capability and capacity for providing the manpower that will be required for effective industrialization. That invariably brings us to the domain of education.

Unarguably, education remains the all-important, most crucial instrument of global modern civilization. And it is simply unthinkable to conceptualise modern civilization without modern civilization. To that extent there is an inevitable chain connection that links education and industrialization and ultimately to modern civilization. It has been said that what we have are developed citizens and not developed nations. In other words, the extent of national development significantly depends on the extent of human capital development. This has become urgent if government’s industrial revolution plan will be successful.
However, it is possible to reason that Nigeria has the required manpower. No doubt with hundreds of universities, polytechnics, and colleges that produce hundreds of thousands of graduates, it should be expected that Nigeria should not lack the appropriate basic manpower to service the industrialization project in Nigeria.

But expert empirical conclusions solemnly prove the contrary. Nigerian graduates they found out are not suitable for real industrial revolution. Much as the graduates may be “educated” in science and engineering disciplines, they are not “trained” for industrialization. That obviously is quite scary and uninspiring.
As a solution, there is need for deliberate “training” for science and engineering after their conventional education which invariably runs for a period of four and five years.

Furthermore, that the “training” should run for yet another period of between four and five years!  Clearly, therefore, it might take an “Industrialization Vanguard” upwards of 20-21 years of “education” and “training” to be deployable into national industrialization! That will leave us with an elongated structure of 6-3-3-4-(4-5) education cum training system. This may seem ill advised and even not feasible in practice. Nigeria direly needs industrialization, no doubt, but not at the expense of sizeable slice off, the most vital strength of her able-bodied science and engineering working population.
Be that as it may, the popular view must be that something else that is more realistic and more tolerable. But in fairness, 4-5 years of “training” for skill acquisition shall be a kind of “on-the-job”; what is commonly known in Nigeria as “internship,” “industrial attachment,” “Industrial training” or “IT” for short.

Those presumably refer to learning on the job while the graduate is expectedly employed in one form of “known high-linkage activity” or another. That will provide a very significant compass to the right direction that the industrial revolution should go in Nigeria. A few reasons might lend credence to sense being conveyed there. For instance, these days many graduates of science and engineering enrol into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme at age 19 when they graduate. The sense emerges that through the practical on-the-job skill acquisition, the young graduate will acquire some essentially required practical work and social experience for real industrialization work.

It is interesting that the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) with the approval of the National Education Council has introduced a revised and improved curriculum for secondary education that is vocational skill acquisition oriented. It is such that now secondary school students are taught and trained for vocational skills via subjects such as computer studies, office practice, store management, insurance, salesmanship, painting and decoration, photography, plumbing and pipe fittings, upholstery, bricklaying, fishery and indeed some 39 different subjects that promote the education-for-life learning. The Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) should also review and revise the course content of university courses especially in the sciences and engineering faculties.

There will be an urgent need to train and retrain teachers for the new curriculum. The teachers should be prepared to inculcate the industrialization psyche and culture. This can be achieved by deliberately tailoring lessons to student-oriented learning activities. Right from early school age children should be guided to be science and engineering inclined. Parents must be incorporated in the education for industrialization plans. The society, the press especially the electronic media and relevant education development advocacy organisations and general stakeholders should resolutely resolve to revolutionise Nigerian education toward a genuinely revolutionised industrialization by the year 2020. The federal government should as a matter of urgency produce a new national policy on education that should institute a 20 year education for industrialization programme.

Ogu wrote from Lagos.

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