Atiku and the Disruptive Education Sector Agenda, By Phrank Shaibu

Akinwumi Adesina, Mary Katambi and Atiku Abubakar.
Mary Katambi, one of the Chibok daughters who graduated from AUN with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and AUN Founder Atiku Abubakar.

Regarding higher education, the central government will select from existing universities and develop a university in each geopolitical area as a center of excellence. Universities will be encouraged to charge user fees at market rates through a partnership between federal, state and local governments.

We often wonder what makes a great leader; we often debate what makes a great leader in all aspects of our lives, whether in business, politics or entertainment. Opinions may differ slightly, however, there are age-old common factors of great leadership that remain the hallmark of most renowned world leaders.

In other words, there is a congruence of thought that good leadership is a combination of many qualities such as charisma, a solid education, exposure and a lot of common sense that allow leaders to navigate their way where there seems to be no way – and leave a mark.

It is in light of the above that the establishment of a university in Yola, Adamawa State, which focuses on development issues, while providing education modeled on American best practices, s fits perfectly into the pioneering trait of great leaders warned by renowned American author and philosopher, Harold R. McAlindon, when he urged leaders “not to follow where the path may lead. But instead, they should go where there is no path and leave a trail”.

Founded in 2004 by Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, the American University of Nigeria enrolled its first students in 2005. Since then, it did not look back; it has continued to serve the needs for which it was created – to fill the void created by conventional universities which have remained teaching-based versus American-style universities which are largely entrepreneurial in model, acting as incubators businesses and income generators through their entrepreneurial bent.

With six schools (faculties), offering several undergraduate majors and graduate programs, AUN students are the future Nigeria will need to remain productive and competitive.

For many decades, Atiku has paid particular attention to the education sector. He knows that for Nigeria to achieve its dreams – for the next generation to fulfill the promise of delivering basic services to an ever-growing population, and beyond – it must have a flow of technical manpower. and skilled necessary to impact life as it is. actually lived. Hospitals, for example, need trained doctors and staff and schools need trained teachers, while farmers, who are the backbone of every nation, need a steady supply of extension workers to keep pace with new farming techniques.

Between 1999 and 2007, when he served as vice president to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the administration recorded significant achievements that are hard to ignore. For example, under the Obasanjo/Atiku administration, education achieved many international recognitions thanks to its policy of free admission to all federal universities.

Other achievements include the continuation and implementation of the national policy on space science; the implementation of the national policy on information technology; reintroduction and expansion of the federal scholarship program; promotion of the establishment of distance education (open university system); as well as the introduction of free and compulsory Universal Basic Education (UBE).

Building on these accomplishments, Atiku developed a 5-point plan anchored on unity, security, economy, education, and the devolution of power to states and local governments, known by the acronym Unity-SEED, which emphasizes the development and promotion of scientific and technical education for the creation of skills for the new economy. To support the country’s growth in the 21st century, the Atiku administration will work with state governments to prioritize science and technology education, including ICT and related computer programs.

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The policy framework outlines how Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems are to be improved and capable of delivering quality and relevant training and assessment aligned with the Nigeria Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).

This is the reason why Atiku plans to drive the necessary investments that will improve the absorptive capacity of technical and vocational schools: the former vice-president is concerned that currently, vocational and technical colleges have a capacity insufficient absorption – there are less than 400 TVET colleges nationwide. , with a total enrollment of less than 200,000 students.

And because it’s a bottom-up approach, Atiku plans to increase primary school enrollment from 60% to 90% and the graduation rate from 63% to 82% by 2027. education plans to increase secondary school enrollment from 47% to 80% and the graduation rate from 56% to 75% by 2027.

What else? Atiku’s 5-point plan encourages and promotes more science and technology schools for girls and generally stimulates interest in science classes for women. Incentives for the private sector to establish additional vocational enterprise institutes and to partner with the public sector in providing skills are also on the cards.

Regarding higher education, the central government will select from existing universities and develop a university in each geopolitical area as a center of excellence. Universities will be encouraged to charge user fees at market rates through a partnership between federal, state and local governments.

Granted, nothing about this is particularly extraordinary. All these measures and many others in preparation are measures that should be taken by any government wishing to put its education sector on a solid footing. The reasons for the deep and painful surgery Atiku envisioned should make a lot of sense to all concerned, as Nigerian history is the stuff of which paradoxes are made. It is the story of poverty and illiteracy amid enormous potential.

An instant eye-opener of the challenges facing the country’s education sector is the fact that, according to UNICEF statistics, Nigeria has over 18.5 million out-of-school children, representing 47% of the world’s unschooled population.

In addition, Nigeria has been among the four worst performing countries in this area since 1999. These low participation rates perpetuate high illiteracy rates in Nigeria, accentuated by region, with even lower participation in poor rural areas. from the country.

But access is not the only challenge facing the education sector: there are critical challenges to quality, relevance and equity. Nigerians currently spend over a billion dollars a year to acquire an education outside the country. This represents a significant drain on the economy, especially when a fraction of the amount over five years can bring vast improvement to the nation’s health care and education systems.

This horrifying history of the sector’s dysfunction is what prompted Atiku to undertake a complete overhaul of this very important sector. If elected, President Atiku will ensure that more parents enroll and keep their children in school. Wazirin Adamawa believes that strengthening the education system to make it more efficient, more accessible, more qualitative and responsive to the needs of the Nigerian economy and society is a task that needs to be done.

Phrank Shaibu is Atiku Abubakar’s Special Assistant for Public Communication.

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