Some stakeholders in the education sector in Nigeria have called for more private sector involvement in the development of the sector in view of the negative impacts of COVID-19.
The stakeholders, comprising public and private sector participants, spoke at the last virtual conference of the Ecobank Digital Series titled “Education in Nigeria – The Role of Private Investment.”
They noted that education is a critical sector that contributes to human capital development and sustainable future for the country which must not be overlooked.
The stakeholders called on the private sector to invest more in education through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), scholarships, provision of palliatives, support to reconstruction and rehabilitation of schools across the country.
Key participants at the event included the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by an Assistant Director, Mrs. Elizabeth Afape; Lagos State Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, Katsina State Commissioner of Education, Prof. Badamasi Lawal Charanchi and the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf.
Others were Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, and Keynote speaker and Pro-Chancellor Achievers University, Dr. Olabode Ayorinde, and the National President, Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), Mr Orji Kanu Emmanuel, amongst others.
Olabode Ayorinde, stressed the need for government at all levels to place high priority on the education sector when providing intervention funds, urging commercial banks to also lend more to this sector at low interest rate.
According to him, the private sector has played a significant role in education development, but funding has been a major issue.
“A critical analysis shows inadequate infrastructure, lack of equipment and teaching aids, high teacher to student ratio, all of which requires a loan facility to solve.
“Regrettably, we see the government and its agencies providing intervention funds to the aviation sector, agriculture, creative sector without considering the education sector.”
Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf of the NUC attributed the poor state of the nation’s economy to the inability of the private sector to making the right impact on the education sector.
He said that endowments, scholarships and bursaries would give opportunities to schools to admit more students.
Ramon-Yusuf said that the NUC would continue to provide an enabling environment for education and learning to thrive in the country and urged the private sector to invest more in human capital development.
Muda Yusuf of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for government’s intervention in the education sector, especially at the foundation level
He said that it was not easy to sustain the education sector with loans from commercial banks because of high interest rates.
He canvassed for tax concession for private investments in education, adding that “licensing for private universities should be made easy to enable inclusiveness and a model that will include scholarships and bursary should be enacted.”
Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, said there were more private schools in the state than public schools and most of them might not survive the grueling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said that land and access were the main hinderances to building of more schools in Lagos State.
“Currently, the government is working on synergy between the public and private sectors, reviewing and optimizing the school curriculum, improving the quality of primary education, investing in teaching aids for schools and much more.”
Prof. Badamasi Lawal, Commissioner for Education, Katsina State, said: “Initiatives for teachers development, public and private sector partnership, better and favorable legislation, corporate social responsibility like scholarship, bursary and tax concession would go a long way in providing the enabling environment for education sector to thrive in the country.”
Mrs Annabel Ikuenobe, the Segment Head, Public Sector in Ecobank Nigeria, stressed the readiness of the bank to keep supporting the growth of education sector in the country.
She enumerated the bank’s several products and initiatives available for Ecobank customers which included the “Ecobank School Bundle” which comprises of a current account which runs at a zero maintenance fee.
Carol Oyedeji, an Executive Director in Ecobank Nigeria, said that private sector participation in the education sector could not be overemphasized.
She noted that education ensures a brighter future for future generations and enjoined all stakeholders to proffer ways forward for the sector.
Oyedeji described the Ecobank Digital Series as a virtual programme organised by Ecobank to educate and enlighten the public on crucial issues of public interest, especially as it relates to their financial freedom.