Nigeria - Education Nigeria - Education
Education remains central to the implementation of the Nigerian government’s development agenda. This is reflected in the four-year strategic plan for development of the Education Sector from 2016–2019. In keeping with this plan, the federal government allocated 10 percent ($1.57 billion) of its 2017 National budget (USD $23.97 billion) to the education sector. Experts indicate that this budget is grossly insufficient to address the needs of the sector considering the rate of deterioration in public education across all levels. This includes shortage of skilled manpower, low technology, inadequate investment in research, and outdated educational materials.
Recent government policies and initiatives across different sectors have stimulated huge demand for skilled manpower. The privatization of the power sector along with increased interest by foreign investors has prompted the need for skilled personnel to operate and manage industrial electricity applications, including automation, metering and medium voltage. The local content initiatives in the oil and gas, as well as ICT space increase demand for local skill training, and also the Niger Delta skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development programs are among some of the training opportunities. Most of these are industry-specific skills not readily acquired through formal education, but are offered by specialized companies and institutions with expertise in these fields.
Industry reports show that Nigeria has over 300 higher institutions ranging from universities, specialized colleges of technology and polytechnics, to colleges of education. The rapid population growth and demand for education have placed a heavy burden on the government in providing quality education, which opens up opportunity for private and institutional investors. During the past 20 years, 69 private universities have been accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to meet higher education needs of Nigerians and the economy; this excludes 40 federal and 44 state universities already approved and operational. Statistics from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) show that nearly 1.6 million students took the university entrance examination in 2016 (and 1.4 million in 2015), but only 415,500 applicants were admitted into these institutions—both government and private—due to limited capacities. Due to dwindling quality and inadequate facilities, many parents resort to sending their children abroad for quality education.
The 2017 Open Doors report on international education exchange indicates that Nigeria is the largest source of students from Africa to the United States. Nigeria ranks 12th across the world, with over 11,000 students admitted to study in undergraduate, graduate and non-degree programs in the United States (9.7 percent increase from 2016). Given the impact of frequent national strikes by university teachers, distortion in the school calendar, and the affinity of Nigerians for U.S. education, the number of Nigerian students seeking to study in the U.S. will likely increase in the coming years.
The U.S. has maintained the leading position in the undergraduate market due to its longstanding ties to Nigeria, but Canada, the UK, Australia and South Africa are increasingly aggressive competitors in the market. Beyond having a strong presence in Nigerian market through recruitment agents, many UK and Canadian institutions have set up local offices, actively participating in local education events, and gaining wider access to the prospective student population through the media and customized education fairs. With recent introduction of regional higher education tours to sub-Saharan African markets including Nigeria and Ghana, in collaboration with EducationUSA, where 25 U.S. universities and colleges participated, it is believed that the tours/fairs would stimulate further interest and increase the number of Nigerian students seeking to study in the United States.
The federal government has proposed a number of reforms in the education sector to address the declining quality of instruction, shortage of textbooks and inadequate facilities. This would provide significant potential for U.S. export of educational items. The federal government is also considering privatizing the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria. Market reports indicate that this would create opportunity for private investment. Some state governments are also creating stimulating and supportive environments for educational investments in their locality. States sometimes are willing to provide land, infrastructure, tax holidays and financial support, including investment insurance to qualified investors, who establish vocational and skill development centers and programs. Nigerians do have an affinity for U.S. education, training services and products.
Education franchises, professional and industry-specific training to support services in power generation/distribution, financial services sectors, Niger Delta skills and entrepreneurship development programs, as well as local content initiatives have a lot of potential in Nigeria. There is significant demand for continuing education for Nigerian professionals and the academics, which make this sub-sector best prospect.
Given the rapid growth in private investment in education, laboratory equipment, books, and professional textbooks would continue to gain market position. Industry reviews clearly show that U.S. education-based organizations should consider developing custom-made courses for evolving Nigerian industry sectors, particularly the security, aviation, environment, oil and gas, as well as financial services sectors.
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