May I first of all thank the management and staff of The AUTHORITY Newspapers for inviting me to this annual event and for asking me to share a few thoughts with their very esteemed guests at this occasion. The AUTHORITY Newspaers in its mission statement claimed to be anchored in Truth and Justice, to be the voice of the voiceless and to give news a human face by focusing on issues that affect the ordinary Nigerian capturing their challenges and their pains as well as their triumphs and their joys. So far, they have done extremely well in living up to these objectives. I congratulate them.
A dinner speech of this nature should not task this audience by indulging you in a long analytical expose that will provoke serious and contentious issues of our times. All I would want to do is to ask a few questions that I hope we can ponder on and that will also influence the Editorial Board of The AUTHORITY Newspapers in their contributions to national discourse after this dinner.
Who in this audience, that is 45 and above is happy about the collapse of our public schools?
Pearson, a global learning company with expertise in educational courseware and assessment published a report edited by Katie Lepi in May 2014 on Ranking of the World’s Educational Systems(1). Of the nearly 40 countries assessed, none in Africa was found worthy of assessment. Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:-
(i) East Asian nations continue to outperform others. South Korea tops the rankings, followed by Japan (2nd), Singapore (3rd) and Hong Kong (4th). All these countries’ educational systems price effort above inherited ‘smartness’, have clear learning outcomes and goalposts, and have a strong culture of accountability of stakeholders.
(ii) Scandinavian countries, traditionally strong performers, are showing signs of losing edge. Finland, the 2012 index leader, has fallen to the 5th place and Sweden, is down from 21st to 24th.
(iii) Notable improvements include Israel (up 12 places from 17th), Russia (up 7 places to 13th) and Poland (up four places to 10th).
(iv) Developing countries populate the lower half of the index, with Indonesia again ranking last of the 40 nations covered preceded by Mexico 939th) and Brazil (38th).
A similar study carried out by Times Higher Education World University Rankings in April 2016, had a list of 15 best universities in Africa, including the following in order of merit (2).
- University of Cape Town – South Africa;
- University of Witwarersrand – South Africa;
- Stellenbosch University – South Africa;
- Makerero University – Uganda;
- University of Kwazulu-Natal – South Africa;
- University of Pretoria – South Africa;
- University of Ghana – Ghana;
- University of Nairobi – Kenya;
- Suez Canal University – Egypt;
- Alexandria University – Egypt;
- Cairo University – Egypt;
- University of Marrakech Cedi Ayyad – Morocco;
- University of South Africa – South Africa;
- University of Ibadan – Nigeria;
- Mohemmed University of Rabat – Morocco.
Now, let’s look at the world and the trend of growth of global resources.
The ten leading companies in the world in 2006 included for following:-(3)
(i) Exxon Mobil
(ii) General Electric
(vi) Bank of America
(vii) Royal Dutch Shell
Of these ten there are five energy companies and one IT company. In 2016, ten years later, the following were the leading companies:
(2) Alphabet (Google)
(5) Exxon Mobil
(8) Johnson & Johnson
(9) General Electric
(10) China Mobile
This massive transformation is as a result of what Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu describes as a “confluence of big data, innovation, connectivity and artificial intelligence … giving rise to a revolution of old industries and a creation of new industries”.
Put it another way, this trend is traceable to education. Education has given rise to newer ways of production, newer and competitive production, and optimal efficiency of management and gargantuan growth of wealth.
Quality education is a function of good teachers, good teaching methods, and recognition of talents, level playing field and responsible governance profile.
My second question arising from the above narration is – Are we likely working at the same pace we are doing now to get into the world’s best 40 educational systems?
In conclusion, I ask you what must we and The AUTHORITY Newspapers do to reverse this trend?
I suggest that we must:-
(i) Speak to power. Criticizing Government constructively and offering alternative suggestions are not inimical to promotion of national cohesion. Those who represent us in government have no monopoly of knowledge. They are not all knowing. They are not a special breed who cannot be criticized.
(ii) We must offer ourselves to serve. The quality of those in government determine the quality of governance. If more reasonable and knowledgeable people offer themselves to serve, elections will become less expensive, attractive and more likely to produce good governance.
(iii) Get your PVC and use it wisely. You do not deserve to complain if you do not vote. You are part of our problem if you do not vote. You are greater part of the problem if you do not vote wisely. Voting wisely means expunging primordial considerations like tribe, religion and old school ties in your choice of who to vote for. Instead, we should vote for competence, experience, programmes.
Our country and this generation of Nigeians must ensure that the turnaround happens in our lifetime.
I think you for your kind attention. Bon appetite!!
- Katie Lepi (May 2014). Top 10 Educational Systems in the World (EDUDEMIC).
- Ellie Bothwell (April 21, 2016). Times Higher Education University Ranking (Best Universities in Africa.
- Alex Gray, Formative Content, 16th Jan. 2017, at the World Economic Forum.
Speech delivered by Chief Nnia Nwodo, President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, at The AUTHORITY Newspapers Good Governance Award 2017, held at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers, on Thursday, 21st June, 2018