Stories By Akin Akinremi
A call has been sent to operators in the organised private sector to intervene and rescue the dwindling fortunes of education in Nigeria.
Speaking at the third Convocation ceremony of the Kwara State University, Ilorin, both the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Yemi Adeola and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, insisted private sector participants must complement efforts of government.
The duo noted such support was necessary if education must be re-positioned for needs and imperatives of a 21st century world.
The Convocation anniversary coincided with the presentation of awards to winners of the Business Plan Competition sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc.
According to them, given constraints of finance facing governments at all levels, desirable growth of the education sector lied mainly on private sector participation/support through needed funding for critical content overhaul and re-appraisal.
Prof. Soyinka who delivered the Convocation Lecture clarified that the need to fully develop the education sector could not be overemphasised as education remained the bedrock of any nation.
Adeola, represented by Mr. Ademola Adeyemi, the Regional Business Executive (South West), expressed optimism that the foray into the sector by the Bank would attract other financial institutions.
His words: “The challenges in the education sector are three fold – funding, capacity building and content. These have continued to hamper the development of the sector in the country leading to the outflow of foreign exchange as many Nigerians seek better and quality education abroad.
“This informed our decision to set up the One Education Desk to constantly seek out and execute ideas that would champion the advancement of the education sector in Nigeria through strategic partnerships, service provision for students, parents, teachers/lecturers, vendors, school administrators and the non-academic staff as well as the provision of world-class ICT solutions and other services with the ultimate aim of reducing unemployment in Nigeria”.
Adeola added that the desk would serve as the platform “to achieve our objective of putting in place a one-stop shop for ICT infrastructure solutions and other services needed to advance education, ultimately improving the quality of graduates churned out in Nigerian institutions”.
He said the sponsorship of the Business Plan competition was a confirmation of “our conviction at Sterling Bank that the MSMEs remain the catalyst for economic growth of any nation especially in a developing economy like Nigeria’s. It also goes a step further to attest to our commitment to the sustainable development of the education sector in Nigeria”.
Commending the University for organising the competition, Adeola noted “It will serve as a start point for the galvanisation of practical ideas towards the industrialisation of the country”.
He then enjoined the winners of the Award to use their prizes on projects that would create value for themselves and the society.