Experts from various sectors have advocated entrepreneurial education from primary, secondary and tertiary levels to empower graduates with the skills and knowledge to be self-reliant and contribute meaningfully to economic development.
They observed that the current approach to education was not healthy to self-reliance and economic growth of the country as many products of institutions of learning have the orientation of taking paid employment after their studies.
The experts spoke at the entrepreneurial education summit 2022, organised by Tongston Holdings, an organisation with the focus on promoting the area, held in Abuja on Thursday.
Tongston Holdings also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Gombe State University and Skills Outside School Foundation, Abuja to promote entrepreneurial education.
Bello Tongo, the chief executive officer of Tongston Holdings, said entrepreneurial thinking is key not only to achieve employment but also starting up businesses and most be embraced by all schools.
He said Tongston has model which emphasised integrating education, business media and finance together which is the best way entrepreneurship can be achieved and called on government and other school operators to adopt the model.
Tongo said: “integrating entrepreneurship thinking with the national curriculum will make students think beyond just passing the examination. They can go into starting up a business. There are three elements of education basically, the curriculum, the teaching and then assessment.
“So what government can do is first, the curriculum side needs to be integrated with the entrepreneurship thinking, then the teaching means teachers capacity also need to be entrepreneurial. So that
you are teaching English, Mathematics – all the subjects in the school with entrepreneurial thinking.
“Then on the assessment side also, beyond examinations, students need to be put on stage to pitch their ideas and businesses so that they can show validation that we are beyond passing examinations, we can pitch ourselves, sell ourselves to employers and investors.
“This is what government can do and they need collaboration with private sector because it is the private sector that knows what we are looking for from the industry.”
Also speaking, Nasir Modibbo, the director centre for entrepreneurship, Gombe State University said the summit was timely because the education system in Nigeria is in crisis at level going by current method of teaching that is akin to ‘garbage in garbage out’.
Modibbo said: “The crisis in the education sector is very enormous because right from primary school, secondary and tertiary institutions, the manner in which we teach, honestly is a kind of traditional approach. We only teach the students or read out notes to the students and at the end of the day we expect them to give us what we give them without adding some innovations, creativity and some kind of smartness.
“We are expected in the education sector to make students to challenge the status quo so that they will be able to add value to what is in existence.
Entrepreneurship is all encompassing. It touches every aspect. Entrepreneurship is to have the mindset that will bring about innovation and creativity in whatever we are doing.”
On her part, Maureen Chukuemeka, the director of Skills Outside School while emphasising the importance of entrepreneurial education said: “we take the students through series of programmes, some of them are entrepreneurship programmes, life skills programmes, career awareness.
“These students will participate in all the programmes that Tongston is having with us. Thank you Bello for having this MoU with us and participating in development. ASUU is on strike, some of the students are already in the university, in fact, most of them will be passing out. And because of the programmes Skills Outside School has done with them, there is none of them that is not doing something now.”
In a presentation, Zulkifi Abba, an energy and project finance expert said medium and small enterprises are key drivers of the economy in Nigeria and Africa which demonstrates the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit.
He however observed that: “The most noteworthy obstacle to MSMEs’ growth is the lack of the requisite business competencies Knowledge, skill, and acumen to effectively manage enterprises, as well as a lack of process, and corporate structure.”