Henry Akubuiro I n Nigeria, school leavers are hardly employed in offices, for it is believed they lack the requisite qualifications and e...
In Nigeria, school leavers are hardly employed in offices, for it is believed they lack the requisite qualifications and employability skills to be employed. Yet we tend to forget not every school leaver will be opportune to make it to the tertiary level. How, then, do we bridge the gap?
The British Council, in conjunction with the Macarthur Foundation took the bull by the horn when it creation of Fast Forward Project, an action research pilot project testing out a model for teaching employability skills and providing work based learning opportunities to secondary school students to better prepare them for work.
The pilot project, which kicked off in three states –Lagos, Rivers and Cross River states in July 2016 and ran until September 2017, involved 300 teachers and administration, who were trained on new methodologies for teaching employability and work readiness skills. 1,000 senior secondary school students from marginalised communities and 20 government secondary schools benefitted from the innovative teaching practice and work-based learning are.
On Wednesday, April 2, 2018, the British Council and the MacArthur Foundation invited stakeholders and in the education sector and some of the participants in the year long project in the Final Dissemination Event at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, to determine best practices that could be sustained, lessons learned, as well as recommendations for sustaining the effect of the project and scaling where possible and the role of stakeholders.
The internship phase was an eye-opener and beneficial for Ms. Bello Farida Oyindamola from Eva Adelaja Senior Girls Secondary Grammar School, Bariga. “My internship was at Unilever Nigeria Plc, and I learnt a lot from the company where I was made to observe safety rules and regulations. At the factory, I was taught how their various products are manufactured, how they go about daily activities and was included in their activities at different departments.
“My team learnt new things and we were instructed to think outside the box and were exposed to what we could never have imagined. The internship was fascinating and educative. It improved me individually, my social life and economic life and even my educational life and in all aspects and I think it should be continued,” she revealed.
While fielding questions at the end of the event, the Commissioner for Education, Rivers State, Dr. Tamuno Gogo Jaja, described the Fast Forward project as timely and worthwhile. “I will describe the programme as worthwhile and timely considering the time that the educational sector in Nigeria is below expectation and assessment because of the fact if we take a look at the sector, it will be difficult to define what kind of educational system Nigeria is running today. During my time it was 6-5-4, we moved from there to 6-3-3-4 and all of a sudden we heard about the 9-5-4 system and then 1-6-3-3-4 now we are talking about 10-3-4.”
Tamuno spoke further on the state of education sector in Nigeria, “I think our education sector needs serious attention. It is not enough to travel to Europe and America and return to copy and paste the system you meet there. When our children are on vacation these days, we hear our parents; school administrators and children talk about Summer Lessons! For Christ’s sake, we do not have summer in Nigeria.
“I believe with the intervention of the British Council into the system, some of our teachers and students will be able to define and rediscover themselves and their skills. I wish to commend the initiators and implore them to extend this project nationwide. Yes, they have taken the pilot state, but I believe for us to make an impact in the system, they have to go beyond the pilot phase.”
Dignitaries present included representatives of organisations, partners and stakeholders in the education sector comprising: Dr. Tamuno Gogo Jaja, (Commissioner for Education, Rivers State), Kenneth Asim Ittah (Executive Secretary, Calabar Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mining and Agriculture), Lucy Pearson (Country Director, British Council Nigeria), and Mr. Oladayo Olaide (Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation, Nigeria).
Others were Prof. Oladele Akogun (Country Director DFID), Mr. Solomon Adebayo (Education Specialist, World Bank), Mr. Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima (Ford Foundation), Dr. Modupe Adefeso-Olateju (TEP Center), Femi Taiwo (LEAP Africa), Rene Vermeulen (MDF, West Africa), students and school administrators, amongst other patrons and beneficiaries.
The Fast Forward Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the British Council, aimed at enhancing classroom engagement, preparing students for both post-secondary education and the workplace and encouraging collaboration between schools, students and employers, thereby exposing key stakeholders to the link between educational innovation and improved employability.