I am fascinated by the amazing things we can do with computers – which come in many different forms. From smartphones to supercomputers, they all operate on a straightforward principle – garbage in garbage out. In simple terms, what you put in is what you get out. That’s programming for you. But while the premise of garbage in garbage out holds true, computing devices have different capabilities and appeal, depending on who is making them and how they are made.
Human beings are like biological computers that need programming through a system of learning called schooling. But just like computers, education systems are not all equal. If you come across a low-end subpar mobile device, you don’t expect it to deliver the same user experience as high-end stuff, yet policy-making and education programs in Nigeria and other developing countries expect excellent outcomes from weak investments and poor governance standards. They wish to attain good human capital development with subpar investments in teachers, learning environments, technology infrastructure, monitoring and benchmarking and other areas that need a serious tweak for the system to deliver excellent value to learners.
The latest World Bank report talk about the need for change, as learning in developing countries is in crisis, thus it calls for urgent attention. Just like countries, corporations which have taken the time to invest heavily in developing their products extremely well are reaping great returns. Apple and Google are prime examples. At the country level, those that have put quality education front and center of their social development projects have seen economic benefits that third-world nations can only dream of.
At Intelisight our vision includes instigating reforms in the education space. It’s time that Nigeria pays attention to the architecture of learning, and we call for a complete change using design thinking and forward-looking policy options. From early education through higher and vocational institutions, our governments should invest in schools without sparing effort and resources. The prosperity of the nation and citizens depends on the action taken today. The evidence from prospering economies suggests that there is no other alternative. Procrastinating on reform initiatives only delays the emergence of a knowledge-driven and economically viable Nigeria to the unknown future. We all should aspire to see an advanced Nigeria in our lifetime. Quality education will make this possible.
Our upcoming report – Education 2.0 – Activating Nigeria’s human capital potential – covers important agenda items which we consider to be holding the system of learning back. For example; the teacher, learning environment, technology, financing and the broader context of strategic goals, education management and benchmarking are just a few examples. We need to reprogram the operating system that runs Nigeria’s education. It is time to change the code and leapfrog. But how do we do this? Much like the open source movement, we want the contribution of all who have comprehensive school reforms at heart to shape the future of the collective.
As Nigeria clocks 57 on the occasion of independence, let us all begin to think about how we can contribute to developing a new operating system for schooling towards a better country.