Anyone who has tried recruiting Nigerian graduates would have dealt with immense frustrations only similar in severity to using slow internet to watch pornographic material — Yes I said it. But no… this is not a “bash young Nigerians” post. This is a collective problem that needs solving by us being brave and unorthodox. When I say us, I mean those of us who have passed through the Nigerian educational system and have somehow made something of ourselves. That something is debatable… but if you are reading this on a computer or smartphone you have at least made it to the tracks. Crossing the finish line, however, is optional as with everything else in life, and in Nigeria.
We should be under no illusion that the university educational system is fraught with rot. From lecturers who have not updated their skills in decades, to poor tools, apparatus and infrastructure, to students who rather join cults and 419 rings and then the most abhorrent of all, sexual assault and harassment between students and between (mostly female) students and lecturers.
The Nigerian university is the ultimate antithesis to education that can be found anywhere in the world, in my opinion.
It is no wonder that the students that graduate from it cannot string written sentences together, have zero social skills besides dancing the most complex dance moves (to their credit) and are so angry that they have turned the virtual world into their battlefield. Whenever I receive a resume, I immediately look at the secondary school. Forget the university and forget the degree or grade.
The secondary school is the last bastion of education in Nigeria and even that is beginning to face some rot.
This is because the universities cannot churn the right type of graduates who will in turn become teachers in secondary schools. So when this current crop of aged teachers retire, secondary schools will face the same issue that the universities face now. I know some people are reading this and thinking, I’ll just hustle hard and send my kids to school abroad. Good luck!
Perhaps the 0.1% of the Nigerian population that can afford to school abroad will return home to run the over 400,000 companies needed to power the entire Nigerian economy.
So what do we do? I believe trying to fix education at the university level is a lost cause. We need to do something decisive and disruptive and impactful. If we change the dynamics of demand for graduates we can change the system. Companies still demand a university degree from Uniben, Unilag and Ife, and as such students flock to these all but dead institutions to get a “degree” so that they can get jobs. They come out half baked and end up being underemployed. So what if we distill further and say, “What do we, as employers, need from graduates and hire for that instead?”
Of course, certain professions still have to be taught from the confines of a conventional institution like medicine, engineering etc., but frankly all social science, IT and liberal arts education can be disrupted by alternative schools. Some of these alternative schools are beginning to pop up all across Nigeria. One was founded by my favourite Nigerian entrepreneur, Gossy Ukanwoke — Beni American University (BAU). Gossy’s story is all over the inter-webs so I need not regurgitate it. But at 24 years old, he decided to take on the Nigerian educational system by innovating around it. BAU teaches a host of management and leadership courses in both physical and virtual classrooms.
Another is a Univelcity (it’s not a typo) by Joseph Agunbiade that he set up to teach User Experience. Imagine if he teams up with Tosin Oshinowo of CMDesign to expand user experience education to also include curriculums in architecture and human centered design. There is also Databreed.io by Ayobami Oladejo that is set up to teach data science. Perhaps as an addition to data science which deals with numbers they can also include accounting, audit and other financial management courses. The work that Ized Uanikhehi’s Digiclan is doing can be extended to secondary school graduates and can also incorporate traditional marketing education, in addition to digital marketing.
In order for these nascent institutions to achieve scale, the private sector must be committed to recruiting graduates from these establishments without prejudice to a lack of conventional degrees from conventional Nigerian universities.
This is why I am calling on 200 Nigerian companies, for a start, to sign a treaty of sorts committing to employing these unconventional graduates. We can call this the “Nigerian Alternative Education Treaty.” Real disruption in employment space can only happen when the private sector begins to recognize, value and reward graduates from these institutions. A bigger question now though, is how do I begin to organize 200 companies in Nigeria? *still scratching my head*
Originally published on his Medium account