This morning, I got to watch three short videos that got my thoughts racing in a particular direction, warranting this post. Of course, my thoughts, as it is my custom, are be centred on nation-building – using Education a key tool to build a developed Nigeria.
The first was a short clip by the CEO of Cisco, Chuck Robbins, who spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 in Davos about children spending too much time on smartphones and tablets. He said parents need to be more assertive.”Parents around the world need to stand up and be parents, not friends. For some reason, we’ve gotten into this mode of being friends, it’s horrendous… we give them all these devices,” Robbins said during a session on the digital economy.
If the CEO of an industry leading tech company is worried, we all should be if we weren’t already. Is there something we can occupy our children with to reduce the amount of time available to leisure for hours on a device?
The second short clip was by Jack Ma, the Founder and Chairman/CEO of the Chinese ecommerce giant, Alibaba at World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018. He spoke about what he learnt from teachers and that is the character of good teachers. He stated that, “… a teacher always expects his students to become better.”
Do we have such in good numbers in Nigeria? The answer is a big NO. Most of the teachers, like their generation, are frustrated with the state of the nation and have given up hope. They pass this state of hopelessness to their students in words and deeds.
The third clip was also by Jack Ma at the same World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018. In this clip, he stated clearly that machines are here to stay and provide a huge competition to human beings. Therefore, he strongly recommended that everything we teach should be different from what machines can do. He said, “Education is a big challenge now. If we do not change the way we teach our children, 30 years from now we are in trouble because the way we teach – the things we teach our kids– are the things of the past 200 years, knowledge based and cannot teach our children to compete with machines – they are smarter. We have to teach something unique so that machine can never catch up with us. These are the soft skillswe need to teach our children – values, believing, independent thinking, team work, and carefor others. These are the soft parts, knowledge cannot teach you that. That’s why I think we should teach our kids on sports, music, painting, arts, making sure humans should be different from machine. Everything we teach should be different from machines. If machines can do better, you have to think about it.”
Putting these 3 clips together and factoring my constant longing for true growth and development in Nigeria, I make the following observations /recommendations:
We must tackle the biggest hindrance to productivity: That hindrance is smartphones and it is a problem for adults as well as children. As a country with a poor educational system and low productivity, the entrance of the smartphone into all classes of Nigeria has become a stumbling block to whatever effort to increase productivity for national development.
We need parents, teachers, policymakers and religious leaders to highlight this problem and proffer solutions. One of the key solutions would be to become a nation where we live simpler lives and stop the flow of easy money through corruptible acts in every facet of society.
We need a new generation of teachers: It is clear that teachers can give hope to students in a hopeless society, sow seeds of big dreams as well as water them. Teachers can also help parents change their mindset and attitude, at least for the sake of their children. They can encourage the involvement of more fathers in the development of their children (the boys and the girls), etc.
To actualise this, we need government to urgently undertake reforms of the teaching cadre from primary to tertiary. It will not be short term exercise but with persistence and constantly selling the benefits, as well as providing pay incentives, the objective of transformed students coming out of our schools to transform the nation will become a reality.
Government alone cannot achieve this. The support of NGOs and religious organization will be key to ensure all key stakeholders support the reforms.
School/Parents need to shift core focus on academics: We must begin to witness schoolsemphasize the development of critical soft skills alongside academic excellence. We are seeing more Nigerians graduate with first class degrees but with no values needed to serve humanity with courage, integrity, compassion and innovation.
Getting a good job and doing well is not enough. If this doesn’t change, the rise of machines will put them out of work. We are already seeing the rise in Nigerians using online banking to avoid having to deal with rowdy banking halls and unfriendly bank staff. I wouldn’t be surprised if most Nigerians would prefer to deal with a robot inside a banking hall than a human being because many Nigerians have lost or never cultivated their soft skills.
The task of nation-building is not limited to government, teachers and religious leaders. Parents also play a key role in the home and in the community and so does every other citizen. After all, you don’t need a title to become a leader, just a desire to serve and make the world a better place than what you met.
Are you willing to serve?