The inimitable Nelson Mandela captured it succinctly when he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The United Nations, in agreement with the late African statesman, note that “Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is key to escaping poverty. Education helps reduce inequalities, reach gender equality, and foster tolerance and peaceful societies.”
The United Nations Secretary-General in his message on the 2023 international day of Education described Education as a Human Right. He went on to say that Education is the bedrock of societies, economies, and every person’s potential. As an academic and University Administrator, I wish to stress the importance of quality education and why it needs to be a priority in Nigeria today. Society has progressed because of education. It helps bring reform and progress and paves the way for innovation. Recognizing its importance, the United Nations in 2012 included quality education among its Sustainable Development Goals. The global body identifies quality education as a primary goal to ensure the ‘transformation of the world’ by 2030.
At this phase of our development, quality education is what Nigeria needs to grow. It is vital for economic growth, innovation, and job creation. Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is key to escaping poverty, as several Nigerians will testify. Against this background, the state of our primary education saddens me. UNESCO’s recent disclosure that the country now has 20 million out-of-school children is alarming and indeed unfortunate. The UK-based NGO, Save the Children previously painted a gloomy picture of the situation with its 2021 Global Childhood Report stating that Nigeria remains one of the most challenging places to be a child. The country ranks below conflict-ridden Yemen and Syria due to poverty, lack of schools, insecurity, and tradition. Public secondary and tertiary education flounder, while public tertiary institutions require funding. This is the cause of several industrial actions by the labour unions – academic and non-academic – in our tertiary institutions.
Education is crucial for a brighter and prosperous future; hence we shouldn’t take it with levity. The 21st century is a knowledge-based economy, and those with quality education are poised to soar. We cannot be pontificating about the problems and wringing our hands while the situation worsens. It is already known that over 60% of the skills we now have may not be useful by 2025. Both industry and public service need new skills to compete favourably in almost every sector. This is why at Nile University of Nigeria we have made the Honoris 21st Century skills Certificate course a mandatory pre-requisite for graduation. The online course is intended to address the skills gap of students, as we work to graduate a skilled workforce that is needed to power the 4th industrial revolution. These skills include Critical thinking, Complex Problem Solving skills, Negotiations, Enterpreneunersip, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Communication skills, amongst others.
We must take the bull by the horns and provide quality education for Nigeria’s youths. We are currently focused on doing this at Nile University, where the gold standards are academic excellence and functional education. We typify the idiom, from little acorns, giant oaks grow. We started with about 34 students in 2009, had a little over 3,000 by 2020 but now have over 7,000, with increased facilities, infrastructural, and human resources development.
We succeeded in retraining our academics, following the acquisition of the University by Honoris United Universities (HUU), which is the first and largest pan-African private higher education network with 15 universities across 10 African countries. This has further invigorated our overall development and enabled us to deliver quality education to appreciative young Nigerians and indeed Africans. Our parent body, Honoris United Universities is committed to transforming lives through relevant education for lifetime success. We combine the expertise of our member institutions to develop world-class African talent that is competitive in today’s fast-paced, demanding, and increasingly digitized labour and startup markets. Collaborative intelligence, cultural agility, and mobile mindsets are at the heart of the Honoris approach to educating the next generation of leaders and professionals able to impact regionally in a globalized world.
Honoris comprises a community of 71,000+ students on 70+ campuses, providing online and physical learning centres in 10 African countries, and 32 cities. The network comprises 15 institutions: multidisciplinary universities, specialized schools, technical and vocational institutes, contact, distance, and online institutions. Over 420 degrees are offered in Medicine, Health Sciences, Engineering, IT, Business, Law, Architecture, Creative Arts, Fashion and Design, Media, Political Science, and Education. Students can experience exclusive partnerships and exchange programs in more than 190 universities across Europe, the United States, and Asia.
Nile University has been recording exponential growth following the Honoris acquisition. There have been huge capital investments in infrastructure and equipment, including the completion of a two-storey off-campus hostel facility for medical students at Asokoro District Hospital, the construction of a 2,000-capacity law faculty building, installation of an 876 KW solar power system to facilitate reliable, clean power supply on campus and construction of two units of 500 seating capacity multipurpose halls to bolster our standing as one of Nigeria’s foremost private institutions, developing world-class African and global ready talent with the needed 21st-century skills to thrive in the globally disrupted world of work.
In addition, other infrastructure projects include completing two units of 250-bed capacity on-campus hostels and constructing a modern STEM laboratory for our science and engineering disciplines and a multipurpose Academic building to facilitate a world-class academic experience. Recently, we started the construction of the first of its type, very high-definition Medical Simulation Centre for the training of both Medical students and Allied Health Specialities. A student centre is also being built to boost students’ activities and recreation.
We have also instituted employability initiatives to prepare students for the future of work. These include establishing a Career Services Center that provides students with the requisite support to gain the needed skills to thrive in a dynamic, digital future. Our Startup initiative provides students and alumni with a platform to pitch and secure funding and mentorship support for their business ideas. At the same time, an online internship program enables students to gain necessary international work experience through placements at one of 3,500 companies in over 70 countries.
The sharing of academic expertise is also at the heart of the Honoris model of collaborative intelligence. Honoris has continually worked with Nile to share intelligence and best practices on an ongoing basis so that students at Nile and across the network benefit from sharing ideas, real-world expertise, and multicultural immersion.
Nile University is also collaborating with a large number of institutions across the globe, including MDAs through partnerships and MoUs to achieve its objectives. Undoubtedly, through Nile University, Honoris is meeting the increasing demands of Nigerian youths for quality education that properly equips them for the 21st century.
OpEd by Dilli Dogo FNAMed, Vice Chancellor of Nile University, Abuja.