No matter how Nigerians would prefer to view the pressing economic hardships faced by millions of her citizens, while a few live in lavishness; everyone will get to feel the pulse of the nation's heartbeat if the education sector is not taken by the bull. Whether we choose to arrest the education sector or not, a state of emergency must be declared in the sector for any economic gains to be achieved.
Most people strive to get into the numerous colleges and universities in the hopes of obtaining a college degree. They say that the key to a successful career or life, in general, is a quality education. Attaining a higher education is a ticket to a bright future. But are the students prepared for the real world? After graduation, the next step is to look for a job. New graduates are normally eager to put into practice what they have learned in school. However, life outside the walls of a college or university is different. Adapting to a new environment is important. Knowledge, skills and the ability to adapt to a work environment is necessary to survive the real world.
When students enroll themselves in college, they expect to have all the knowledge and skills a higher education can give them. They have a right not only to be educated but also to prepare them to work. It is the duty of the educational institutions to teach and train their students so that they may maximize their potentials fully. Colleges and universities normally focus on the knowledge and skills of students but fail to prepare them to a life after graduation. Recent studies show that they play an integral role in honing students to be globally competitive. Employers recognize the role of colleges and universities in preparing students for the real world. They agree that to succeed in today's global economy and to prepare a student after graduation, colleges and universities must improve on the following: communication skills, critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, application of knowledge and skills in real-world settings, complex problem solving and analysis, ethical decision making and teamwork, among others. Employers also agree that higher educational institutions should be doing more to provide a learning environment and skills relevant to the workplace.
Times are changing. As people embrace new innovations and technologies, higher educational institutions must also learn how to keep up. The future of not only their students but also of the economy lies on their hands in preparing students for a globally competitive workforce. Colleges and universities need to focus on three areas to prepare their students for the real world.
First, improve classrooms. Classrooms equipped with the latest technology necessary for the students' training will enable the students to acquaint themselves with the same technology they might be using once they begin to work.
Second, teachers and professors must be qualified and proficient in the subjects or skills they are about to teach. A teacher who knows nothing about a subject cannot effectively teach students. They must employ professionals known for their expertise.
Third, curriculum must keep up with the changing times. It has to constantly change depending on what is relevant in the workplace. It must include all the knowledge, skills and training necessary to produce students who are highly competitive and ready to be part of the workforce. It must provide the students an opportunity to experience real-life work settings while being enrolled. Internships can also be included so students have a firsthand experience on how it is to work. Students must also be required to show mastery of the skills they have studied before graduating. It is not enough that they graduate. They must be highly-skilled graduates. Students must be prepared for a life beyond their classrooms. This is possible if higher educational institutions continuously change and upgrade their classrooms, hire professors known for their expertise and a curriculum that adapts to the changing technologies. A nation's future depends on the quality of workers it produces. Workers who are once students well-equipped with knowledge and skills and ready to take on the challenges of the world.