Facilitators Discern Parallel Systems as Future of Education at Covenant’s Edustart Summit
A preponderance of facilitators at the maiden edition of Edustart Summit has averred that the introduction of alternative ways of learning or parallel systems will be the future of education in Nigeria. Edustart is a conference initiated by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development Studies (CEDS), Covenant University, to examine the challenges facing education and suggest the way forward.
Setting the tone for discussions at the one-day summit held on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at Covenant University, the Director, CEDS, Dr. Stephen Oluwatobi, said that the nation today is bedeviled by many challenges, one of which is the issue of education and the key issues were whether education is available for all, accessible by all, and affordable by all.
The other challenge, he stated, was in terms of the feedback from the employers of labour on the quality of graduates being produced. “We see gaps in the environment, and we need to see how we can bridge these gaps. We are here to see how we can create solutions to these problems and find where we are supposed to be,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, apprised the audience, comprised of educationists, entrepreneurs, faculty, staff, and students of the University, with information about what Covenant was doing to secure the future of education.
He said that through her Departure Philosophy, core values, and specialized courses like the Total Man Concept among others, the University produces well-rounded graduates with competitive advantage in the job market, a pedigree that has earned Covenant the recognition as the University with the Most Employable Graduates.
Stating what he envisioned as the future of education, Professor Atayero said the best teachers in the emerging dispensation will be those who can successfully impart skills for critical thinking towards lifelong learning; a student of the future will be one who is totally disruptive in his/her thought process and is comfortably challenging the status quo; and the learning environment of the future shall leverage on technology to facilitate personalised and ubiquitous learning. He stressed that the ideal learning environment of the future will have no walls and “the best way to predict the future of education is to create it”.
The Keynote Speaker, Professor Peter Okebukola, who is the Pro-Chancellor, Crawford University, appreciated Dr. Oluwatobi for convening the summit and lauded the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, for his astute management of the University. “We are currently compiling the reports of all the 161 universities in Nigeria for 2016-2017 and Covenant University is in the Grade A category,” he revealed. Professor Okebukola noted that Covenant, an institution without a faculty of education, was the only university thinking about the future. He commended the University for taking the initiative.
While making his presentation on the topic, ‘The Future of Education: What Educators Need to Know and Prepare For’, Professor Okebukola highlighted the features of education in the past (the early and late 60s, when he had his Secondary and University education); the present; and what the future would entail. According to him, while the past featured well-resourced schools, a balance of relevance and content in the curriculum, as well as disciplined teachers and students, the present features better technology mediation, poorly-prepared teachers, poorly-resourced schools, indisciplined teachers and students, and overloaded curriculum among others.
His prediction on the future of education, he said, would be restricted to Nigeria, where “by 2028, students will have high degree of fluency in the use of technology; school curriculum will still be overloaded; there will be slight improvement in the facilities for teaching and more disruptive and morally-bankrupt students with backing from indisciplined parents”.
The panelists of the Panel Session of the summit comprised mainly of entrepreneurs and their focus was the purpose of education. They shared personal experiences with the audience and proffered solutions to the malaise plaguing education in the country. For instance, Mr. Femi Iromini, the Country Director, Lead 360, acknowledged the gap between universities and the employers but urged the universities to go to the industry to determine what to teach their students.
Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, a Board member, Teach for Nigeria, said stakeholders have to improve the curriculum, digital literacy should be taught, and special focus should be on teachers as teaching is very uninteresting at the moment. She added that stakeholders, particularly in the private sector, have to disrupt the models since policy makers in government seemed not willing to address the challenges.
Also, participating in the panel session, Mr. Oludare Akinlaja, Co-Founder, Yardaversity, advocated that the nation should allow other ways of teaching to thrive; technical and vocational schools should be resuscitated for people to learn what they like; and private educationists should be involved in policy-making.
Also at the summit were the current and former Principal Officers of Covenant University, including the Registrar, Dr. Olumuyiwa Oludayo and the 2nd substantive Vice-Chancellor, Professor Aize Obayan among others.