The topic, as you may have noticed, is absolutely rife, apt and germane to the great question of the day in Nigeria and the rest of the world. Education (including business education) is, no doubt the handmaiden of development in any nation. This is so even in the societies that are said to have developed, not to mention those nations like Nigeria which are said to be developing or worse still, under-developed (a terrible consignment of fate dished out to us by our imperious definers of the West!). In his campaign for a second term in the White House, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America found it necessary to centralise education, which he finds to be suffering from acute decline in the country!
If this were so for the world’s uni-polar super-power (the US still claims that, in spite of the great competition by China for that position), the rest of the world, especially the third world, including Nigeria, cannot afford to understate the critical import of education to its national development project. And from what Bakare said above, business and vocational education are of utmost importance to national development and growth.
Raven (2002), reflecting on the outcome of 911 (the tragic events of September 2001) averred that even to attain security and peace in the world, education is the key;
“the best defense against terrorism is an educated people. Education, which promises to each individual the opportunity to express their individual talents fully, is fundamental to building a peaceful world.”
Raven went further to admonish the developed world, especially the United States, to rise up to the occasion of contributing substantially to the project of alleviating the pervasive poverty of the ‘poorest people of the world.’ And this can and should be done through education.
James J. Durderstalt paints the picture of the crisis of access to higher education in the world more graphically and the sorry state of the developing world in this regard when he states that:
“There are 30 million people in the world today who are fully qualified to enter a university but for whom no university place is available. Within a decade there will be 100 million university-ready people…in most of the world, higher education is mired in a crisis of access…Unless we can address this crisis, billions of people in coming generations will be denied the education so necessary to compete in, in an age of knowledge.”
He further nudges the wealthy nations to assist the ‘developing’ nations in building the educational systems to meet their ‘exploding needs.’ Have we ourselves begun to appreciate the need to give optimal priority to education as a critical instrument in our drive, or dream to belong among the 20 best economies of the world in the next six years? We are one of the fastest-growing populations in the world and one of the 10 most populous in the world and the black world’s most numerically strong. This is in an age in which there is a youth budge, and our population is one of the most youthful; ‘half of the world’s population is under the age of 20, with over two billion teenagers on planet earth, most living in Asia, Africa, and Latin America,’ with a staggering demand for education. We know from studies that Asia and Latin America are fiercely addressing the education crisis. What about Africa? What about Nigeria?
C. Education and National Development
Let us reflect briefly on education in national development. Education is inextricably connected to the question of development. The production of knowledge and the human capacity weigh heavily with how a nation’s development is pursued and attained. In Nigeria, historically speaking, education and development are inseparable. Our nationalists underscored this fact even in the drive for political independence in their awareness that
“the country could not develop without a proper grounding in a national education system that can guarantee the production of the desired quality workforce without which national development is impossible.” (Olusegun Obasanjo, 2012).
The former head of state and president of Nigeria found that ‘the reform agenda’ and transformation programmes of Nigerian governments form a “part of the historical attempts to direct public attention” to the daunting challenges in the public and private spheres, especially in higher education.
Now what is development and how does it devolve on the development of a nation? There are all kinds of theories of development, especially in this age of development studies. We shall not belabour the burden of theorisation here.
A nation or a nation-state is a modern ‘societal unit’ into which most population and peoples of the world are categorised for the purpose of geo-political reference (Mohammed, 2002). The term development refers to the act of advancement, growth, change or evolution from one stage to another marked by progress. The concept of development applies to improvement in condition often found in the notion of national development loosely referring to the process of projected improvement of the well-being of the citizens of a nation.
Hence, national development implies a general and sustainable improvement in the socio-economic well-being of a state, arising from the structural transformation of the economy. The rating of state in terms of level of development is based on the degree of availability and utilisation of some goods and services essentially designed to enhance the well-being of the citizenry Such goods and services embrace basic human needs such as food, housing, water and education amongst others. Development is seen as the management of available resources, for the economic, social and political progress, based on an equitable distribution of the basic needs such as food, shelter, health, education, water, jobs to the population in a politically stable and secured environment (Dokubo, 2011).
The objectives of development as indicated above tally with those proposed by Todaro and Smith (2001) on increasing the availability and widening the distribution of basic necessities of life (food, shelter and security); raising levels of living standard associated with cultural and humanistic (core) values; and raise the range of economic and social choice available to individual(s) and nation(s), to free them from servitude and dependence.
As summed up by Nkom (2008), development, regardless of how it is defined, ultimately entails an attempt to build a better society characterised by greater material prosperity and better life chances for the people; significant improvements in the people’s capacity to understand and to tap the resources of their environment for their own good and the good of humanity; opening up new opportunities for personal uplift and collective advancement; and enhancing creativity, productivity and popular participation. In short, national development circumscribes “the overall development or a collective socio-economic, political as well as cultural advancement of a country.” This is obtainable through development planning as collective strategies which a government maps out.
(To be continued)