Education is a basic objective of development and an important end in itself. It is an input and output, a fundamental to the broader notion of human capabilities and plays a key role in building capacity, which is the fulcrum for self-sustaining growth and development.
In other words, education holds the master key that unlocks a country’s potentials for sustainable national development. It therefore goes without saying that no nation can develop without a massive investment in its education system. Every nation’s development is seamlessly tied to the quality of its resources.
Transforming Nigeria’s education for sustainable development is a holistic cycle, transcending the entire gamut of the education enterprise of teaching and learning, which is a global, yet locally relevant matter to economic growth, empowerment and environmental protection.
In Nigeria’s case, neglect and underfunding of the education sector has led to a huge disconnect between the education acquired and practical sustainable development. These have resulted in the twin challenges of transforming education policies and programmes to sectoral development goals and adapting successful research to address peculiar problems confronting the nation.
The intelligentsia argue that Nigeria must translate its development goals, objectives, principles and values into education policies and implant them in the country’s curriculum, to achieve inclusive growth.
They also maintain that the country’s population must be sensitised on the county’s sustainable goals through formal and informal education, as well as deliberate orientation campaigns, to ensure that they key into the national strategies. In this regard, practical examples are often given of the national strategies adopted to stop the spread of specific diseases like Cholera, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Polio and Tuberculosis.
The case-specific strategies employed to control each of these diseases, have been commended and are being adopted as actionable templates around the world.
Scholars contend that any education system that fails to achieve a link between its curriculum, programmes or policies and the problems within the society, ceases to be virtuous, deepens poverty, underdevelopment and competitiveness.
Without a doubt, creativity, ingenuity and research have tremendous impact on development in every nation. Nigeria’s education policies and programmes must therefore be tailored to produce creative enterprise and human ingenuity that ultimately propel economic growth for the present and future generations.
In December 2002, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which set the years 2005 to 2014 as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation-Unesco, was named the lead agency with the mandate to promote and improve basic education, develop public understanding and awareness of sustainability and reorient existing educational platforms at all levels to address sustainable development.
It is no wonder therefore, that the Nigerian government has practically begun to restore order to the country’s education system by promoting and improving standards at the basic education level, where pupils are taught the fundamentals.
For the secondary and tertiary education levels, government has adopted an entrepreneurial and research-based education system. This will ensure that college and university graduates are able to translate their skills to creative, ingenious, productive and competitive economic ventures, to generate both income and employment.
Furthermore, students, teachers and the entire society are being offered broad orientation courses on utilising sustainable development paradigms for economic growth. The policy has had a tremulous impact on empirical research and analysis, much of which are being collated as reference data for scholastic and national planning purposes.
Undoubtedly, all countries are continuing the race to attain the new 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is a race in which Nigeria can not afford to falter.
The adoption of policies that mainstream the SDGs at all levels of the country’s education system, is the best and surest way to start. When fully executed, Nigerians can rest assured of an education system that will propel an enduring and sustainable development.