As innovation in technology continues to reshape opportunities and challenges across different fields of human endeavour, the need to review Nigeria’s curriculum of higher education to focus more on technology and creativity has become a necessity rather than an option, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Friday at the Fifth Convocation Lecture of the Federal University, Duste, Jigawa State attended by a cross-section of Nigerian academics, public intellectuals, and traditional leaders including the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano and the Emir of Dutse among others.
In a lecture titled “Facing the New Decade,” the Vice President said “Education today must be education for employability, not just for its own sake. So, our curricula must be versatile and dynamic.”
According to him, “the focus must be on innovation, critical thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, design thinking, synergizing and collaboration with others across the world to solve problems.
“The era of cramming teacher’s notes and regurgitating for high grades is over. The graduate of the future is a problem solver, a thinker, an entrepreneur.
“Our educators, policymakers, schools, universities must now adapt their curricula, policies and projects to improve the skills that enable the graduate to nimbly and constantly respond to the ever-changing face of the economy and the workplace.”
And speaking directly to the students the VP said “the exciting future ahead of us, the opportunities are limitless. Go for it!”
He further noted that the need to prepare school graduates adequately for the challenges of the future, the Vice President said “there will be a truly international market place of ideas, talents and opportunities, but to access that market place you need to become a global citizen by your own effort. Self-education will be important. Second, technology in its various iterations and applications will be crucial in all and every aspect of human existence.”
He said Nigerian graduates of higher institutions of learning would only fit into the future driven by technological advancement if the management and teachers in the institutions review the entire system in order to adapt to realities in their environment.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “there is no question that an exciting future lies ahead, there are breakthroughs in radical technologies, capable of disrupting whole industries, and perhaps even our very conception of work itself.
“For higher institutions who are getting graduates ready for the world of work, for the graduates and near graduates who are here today, what does the disruption of the workforce by emerging technologies signify for both livelihoods and employment?”
Speaking specifically about areas that require improved skills training to increase access to opportunities, the Vice President said that adding value to what already exists is what can create more wealth in societies hitherto fixed on old methods and ways of doing things.
He said: “So today the most successful businesses are those adding value, even our culture can become a great wealth creator but only if we add value.”
“In our future, there is truly something for everyone. We should all take advantage of digital technology, especially social media and the various platforms on offer, to grow a customer base, gain traction and advance businesses.
“You can write a blog, develop a website to sell your products or even your ideas – whatever it is you know how to do best. People are running fully-fledged commercial businesses on Instagram without a single physical shop, an opportunity only made possible by the internet.”
Continuing on the need for graduates and young Nigerians to leverage innovation in technology to rewrite the history of their communities, Prof. Osinbajo said: “We are an entrepreneurial people, a society of multitaskers who thanks to the virtual economy, can make real opportunity out of anything we are passionate about.”
Citing examples of some Nigerians who have dared to tap from limitless opportunities in creative collaborations in hitherto unknown ventures, the Vice President challenged young Nigerians to be creative and courageous enough to break new grounds.
“ What is your passion? How can you take the skills that you have, and add value to the world around you?
“I have seen videos tutorials on how to make the best soups, or bake the best cakes, getting hundreds of thousands of views on Instagram and YouTube.
“YouTubers like Dimma Umeh are showing us how to do makeup, how to master that highlight and contour, and she told us in one video that she made her first million from YouTube!”
“Thanks to the social media age, whatever ideas and skills that you have can be leveraged for benefit. Your knowledge is of immense importance and you have to find creative ways to take advantage of that. While it is easier than ever to sell your knowledge and skills, it has also become easier and cheaper for you to acquire them.
“The Mobile Prof” in Lagos, for example, is teaching people how to code from their mobile phones, you don’t even need a laptop anymore! The future is about self-education and self-development.”
He urged Nigerian Universities and other higher institutions of learning to support and nurture students that would face the emerging future starting with this new decade, driven by the limitless opportunities in creativity and technology.