A “youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthoods independence and awareness of our inter dependence as members of a community (UNESCO). Nigeria with a current population estimate of 200, 815, 094 (worldometer 2019) has the highest number of young person in Africa. The young people are the future of any nation, but only contributions from this group in the society can birth the Nigeria of our dream. Since nation building is an obligatory task for every citizen, it therefore implies that youths have an indispensable role to play in the development and progress of our great country. In psalm: 110:3, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning; thou hast the dew of thy youth”. The bible emphasised willingness of the youth in the day of power. This is the period where revolutionary thoughts that change the world is conceivable.
Gender inequality, climate change, ill health and corruption, social vices, food insecurity, poor infrastructure are some problems we face presently as a nation. If one should take a survey of the perpetrators of vices and corruption in the society, the vast majority are youths but some distinguished ones among them are organizing awareness campaign and taking up political positions to influence their peer positively.
There is also a rise in the unemployment situation of the country but youths all over our nation are engaging entrepreneurship and businesses daily to address it. Stories about graduates frying plantain chips for sale on our major highways is very common. Let us take a quick survey of some practical roles the young people are playing to ensure Nigeria’s progress and development.
Ola Orekunrin founded flying doctors in Nigeria, which is Nigeria’s first emergency air ambulance. This development is presently addressing cases of emergency in the health sector. To ensure that more girls in Nigeria enrol in science and engineering disciplines, Ezeakor Chinenye founded SISTEM.
In order to provide succour to primary school students in North East who could not attend school due to insecurity, Buba Imram started “My Tv, My school initiative” that produces and distribute DVD plates that contain primary school subjects, with the aim of teaching students at home.
To promote food hygiene, Mr Andrew Adaiza made an improved solar dryer aimed at making perishable food products more hygienic after drying while in combating gender discrimination and inequality, Amusan Oladayo founded FLDinAfrica, which preaches gender equality and female empowerment through her trainings and workshops.
Aigomawu Ehiaghe co-founded Codulab, which helps to create a network between university students, and companies, to facilitate co-creation of digital projects, share knowledge and collaborate around ideas.
The problem of waste has been a great source of concern for Nigeria, but Abdulahi Salisu out of his passion for converting “waste to wealth” and reducing pollution founded HRecyclings that specializes in plastic waste management. (Leap Africa)
Although these few Nigerians have gone an extra mile to enhance the country’s progress and development, the story would be different if all these individuals were exposed to higher education of international quality.
According to Wikipedia, education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. The present education system in Nigeria does not meet up with international standard. Many of our founding fathers like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and a host others were able to push for the actualization of Nigeria independence because of the quality education they received while they were youths. On the 1st of October 2019, it will be fifty-nine precious years since the country gained her independence but there is little to show for it. The original design of our education system was to prepare Nigerians to take up white-collar jobs upon graduation but time have changed. Students are presently trained with the “gabage in gabage out” method that lays emphasis on theory instead of practical. This is the foundation of the present systemic failure experienced across all parastatals in the Nation.
To arrest this canker and equip our youths to play a role in Nigeria’s development and progress, Institutions like Unicaf, Earth University and Havard University have gone miles ahead to upgrade their education system to international standard.
Unicaf University is a pan-African independent university, combining the best elements of international education, offering high quality qualifications. Online programmes and blended learning approach where students have full 24/7 access to digital libraries, and study materials, plus the added benefits of face to face teaching sessions, attendance of public lectures and professional presentations , as well as participation in a host of social activitie (About Unicaf). This strategy help youths to conduct personal research and embark on laudable projects.
Earth University is another institution that offers higher education of international quality. The focus of the school is to offer an excellent scientific and technological education emphasizing ethical entrepreneurship and strong socio-environmental commitment (About Earth University). Many of the schools graduates like Gloria Egberayenu and Omidire Niyi who are Nigerians are presently playing their roles to build bio-digesters, reduce waste management, and ensuring food security.
Mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook is another example of how higher education of international quality can help young people to achieve national development. This young lad developed a multi-billion dollar social network that is presently connecting the world while he was an undergraduate at Havard. We have many Zuckerbergs idly roaming our streets who just need a catalyst (higher education of international quality) to start manifesting wonders.
Nigeria is presently on a wrong track. The provision of higher education of international quality to young Nigerians will get her back on track, and create an enviable nation in the near future.