A video popped up on my timeline of young children called ‘Almajiris’ chanting happily and excited to be given a plate of food. I did a skim count of the children in that video- nothing less than a thousand children below the poverty line, not in school and hungry. A depressing thought came over me. What would happen to these children in the near future? What skills would they learn to help them navigate through life? Will they keep begging and waiting for the next meal excitedly?
The economy of the world realizes that an uneducated population would create greater dependency and less productivity of the available natural resources of any nation. This problem doesn’t only exist within the context of out of schoolchildren but also children in school. The question remains to answer: “Are children really learning the right skills for the future?”
In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics recorded an increase in the national unemployment rate from 23.1% in 2018 to 33.3% in 2020. “We estimate that this rate has increased to 37.7% in 2022 and will rise further to 40.6% in 2023.”stated KPMG. “Unemployment is expected to continue to be a major challenge in 2023 due to the limited investment by the private sector, low industrialization and slower than required economic growth and consequently the inability of the economy to absorb the 4‐5 million new entrants into the Nigerian job market every year, ”KPMG said in the report.
What then is the hope of the next generation with this data? Questions to reflect upon…
A lot of countries have started adopting the Competencies Based Learning Approach (CBL) to see if education can solve the lingering problem of low capacity building which ultimately increases unemployment.
Competencies-based learning, emphasizes the development of specific skills and competencies that are relevant to a particular profession or field of work. It involves defining the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are required for success in a particular job or career and designing learning experiences that focus on developing those competencies.
I will focus on a country like Ghana that has successfully used the CBL approach to solve this and also link this approach to the demographics of Nigeria as an African country.
According to a UNESCO report on CBLapproach to Vocational and Technical education in Africa (2021), Ghana has been able to build a competent skilled work force especially in the informal sectorsuch as agriculture, mining and production. The aim of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Ghana is to contribute to the development of askilled labour force by matching the education system to the needs of theeconomy to provide young people with the skills they need to improve theiremployability.
TVET development in Ghana is shaped by businesses’ growing demand for more post-basic education and training. Ghana i sa country with a rich supply of raw materials, especially minerals. Since 2010,after the discovery of the massive Jubilee oil field, oil has become Ghana’ssecond largest export after gold. Nonetheless, its economy remains essentially based on agriculture while at the same time supporting industrial development.
This report shows that the CBL approach was used to determine the needs of the society and how it can be incorporated in the schools to create a competent workforce or industry leaders that can push for the development of the sector needs. How has Nigeria been able to determine sector needs of the economy as a nation?
Nigeria is blessed with a lot of naturalresources uniquely different from region to region.
A close look at the various economicneeds from the six geopolitical zones of the country can be summarized asfollows:
Agriculture, Mining, Finance, Trade, Technology,Production, Arts and Culture, Hospitality, Medicine and Research,Manufacturing, Sports, Defence, Entertainment, Communications amongst others.
The educational institutions howeverfocus on just research, basic finance, entertainment, basic arts and cultureand simple arithmetic.
Can you see the disparity between thefocus of schools and the economic needs of the nation?
Using the CBL approach helps to determinethe sort of curriculum needed in schools in a nation based on industry needs.Maybe schools in regions where agriculture is an industrial need should focusmore on teaching technology, finance and trade that would drive agriculture andmining. Maybe the little children who have been subjected to begging can learnskills that would improve agriculture and manufacturing. The schools in citiescan focus on teaching financial literacy and digital learning to boost sectorsin medicine, trade, finance, manufacturing, entertainment and so on in order toraise more entrepreneurs and highly skilled workforce for the future.
We need to review our curriculum to suitthese narratives and not just focus on learning Math and English as coresubjects. I advocate that core subjects in any region should be based on thecompetencies needed in that region. For instance, a region with strong need foragriculture and mining should make Agricultural Science and Commerce coresubjects from the basic level of education. Schools in cities should makeEconomics and Finance core subjects. Specialized schools should be built tomeet specific needs. For instance school of Arts and Design, Technical andVocational schools, Film Institutes and so on. The certificates from theseschools should be as lucrative and acceptable as a first degree from aUniversity.
The world is tilting gradually towardsskill based certification rather than lumped up criteria set by educationalbodies to determine job qualifications.
Competencies Based Learning is the futureof Africa.
IIEP/UNESCOPublications (2021) - Competency-based approach to technical and vocationaleducation and training in Africa: study based on seven African countries:Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa: synthesisreport. ISBN
TheCable Report April 4, 2023 by Wasila Azeez : Nigeria’s unemployment rate may hit 40.6% amid economic slowdown, saysKPMG