In Part 1 of this series, I discussed why the church should play a leading role in the task of building a developed Nigeria. In Part 2 of the series, I addressed the first role and what I consider the main starting point – Prayer. In Part 3, we delved into the second role – Messaging. With 5 key roles left, we will now address the third role – Training.
Why should the church play a leading role in Training?
Government has failed: The Federal Government’s annual budget for education has never gotten to the 26% recommended by UNESCO and what is allocated is either stolen, mismanaged or goes mainly to paying overheads such as salaries, allowances, vehicles, etc. The summary is that education is poorly funded. Help is needed from somewhere else whilst we mobilize more citizens to demand judicious use of the current allocation.
The need is urgent: Even if government starts giving education the much required attention, government cannot fund it alone nor does she have the manpower to address all the needs. As our population has exploded, we have added tens of millions of citizens who have little or no education.
The Church has resources: Her huge financial and human resources (members) and her enormous influence provide the church with the best tools to make immediate inroads in this sector. Her members can contribute not just finances but assets (land, buildings, equipment, building materials, etc) and they can also volunteer their time.
The Church has played this role before: It is interesting to note that most of the leaders in all sectors of our nation were products of missionary schools. How it is that the model used to get the building of our nation going has now been abandoned when the nation is yet to be built?
The Church knows what training is about: Training is a key tool used by the church to execute her mandate to save and transform lives. Through biblical training, the church enables people to become informed, liberated, enlightened, empowered and equipped to go and be all God created them to be.
Cover more grounds: Agreed, it is not possible for the church train everybody but it is expected that the church will ensure that at the very least, basic education (primary, secondary and vocational) is accessed by a good number of citizens by making the programme quite affordable.
Church-owned training institutions are partly funded by her members and so her fees should be significantly cheaper than private sector-led institutions.
What areas of Training should the church play a leading role in?
Conventional Education: Particularly Primary and Secondary school education because a nation stands or falls on the strength of her basic education (primary, secondary and vocational). At this still-born stage of our development, it is imperative that this task is not left to government alone (this is not the case even in developed nations).
What we are advocating here is for the church is significantly improve the number of schools (some technically focused to raise well-trained technical and vocational citizens) and make the fee very affordable to increase the number of children from working class families that can attend. Interestingly, in about 10-15 years time, many of the citizens who passed through such schools will be in government or in influential positions to ensure government takes the lead in quality education, allowing the church to reduce her level of participation.
National transformation will be accelerated because we would have provided a critical mass of citizens with good education, infused with the nation-building core values and given the ability for critical thinking, leading to innovations across every sector.
Specialist: The church needs to take the lead in providing schools for the disabled, for adults who missed out on education, for farm/nomads/riverine people who, due to their occupation and location, can’t or wouldn’t access education.
To support her primary, secondary and vocational schools, the church needs to set up several teachers training institutes to ensure passionate citizens are recruited, trained and equipped to teach students of the 21st century. These teachers will not only learn excellence and up-to-date techniques but will also be equipped with the spirit of service that will make them see their vocation as more of a service than a job.
The goal of the church should be to ensure that all categories of citizens are catered for.
Leadership: The rise of Pentecostalism has relegated or eliminated the key leadership institutions such as the Boys Scout, Girl’s Guide and Boys Brigade. These clubs were initiated by the traditional church as platforms for leadership training and character building of citizens from 5 years of age.
The church urgently needs to re-institute these clubs into their church main activities and that of their schools. It is in these clubs we can impact the nation-building core values, undertake character building programmes, develop the growth mindset and instill discipline into our children.
At this stage of our development, the church should reduce her focus on tertiary institutions. Not only because the enormous capital required will have more impact in primary and secondary education but also because an undeveloped nation like ours can only absorb roughly 5-10% of its university graduates.
Our urgent need as a nation is for an educational system that produces 16-18 year olds with qualitative primary and secondary school education which also includes life/Vocational/Technical skills and values, who are also well equipped to go into the workforce or set up their own ventures.
The church’s mandate has always been to look out for the poor and less privileged. Her training programmes need to reflect this and by doing so, they will emancipate the majority of Nigerians.