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Presidential Debate: FG Should Only Be Providing Education Policy

By Odilim Enwegbara

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When I listened to the three presidential candidates talk about education (even though I did not follow the debate to the end), I heard education as their first priority.

I agreed to the extent that qualitative and compulsory primary and secondary education should be nonnegotiable.

But for the case of post-secondary education, I think it is like putting the cart before the horse. In other words, there should be no reason getting federal government involved beyond providing privately m and state government owned research intensive universities research grants along with scholarships for PhD candidates in sciences and engineering.

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Here are my reasons.

If we truly want to become an industrial economy we should start setting up companies that should be taking advantage of reverse engineering as China did and still doing. This bottom up model is the best economic development model for countries like ours in latecomer industrialization.

Being labor intensive, bottom up development model tends to churn out a lot of jobs and attracts low value manufacturing businesses from arround the world especially if the government policy includes allowing pollution-intensive businesses to relocate here and enjoy the environmental free ride and the race to the bottom.

Being horizontally growth driven, the bottom up economic development generates more tax revenue for government especially from VAT with which government can invest in expanding and upgrading the country’s critical industrial and social infrastructure that continue to keep the cost of doing business down as they the goods made in the country continuously competitive.

It is only when the country must have fully taken full advantage of this labor intensive latecomer industrialization using catchup policies that it can now start migrating to capital intensive, high knowledge and high value industrial activities that will require highly educated university graduates up to PhD particularly in the sciences and engineering.

If we now focus on university education to churn out graduates without making sure that there are good paying jobs for them, of course as water follows its course, these best educated graduates will waste no time in migrating to highly developed economies where they can get such good paying jobs. Thus, they will leave Nigeria in search of greener pastures overseas.

That was what was happening to India when the country was producing millions of first rate graduates without having advanced its development to the level to absorb the into the economy.

So, let us not repeat the Indian mistake of spending its meager resources to focus on churning out best scientists and others without having what it takes to mobilize and absorb them into our workforce with good career prospects.

Right now our focus should be to invest in power and road infrastructure along with primary and secondary education that prepares of children for their future.

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