Reflection on International Youth Day: Transforming Education

The International Youth Day is celebrated worldwide on the 12th of August annually. It is an advocacy by the United Nations to reach out and celebrate youths, individuals and youth-led or youth targeted organizations that have contributed to the solutions of many youth-related problems and needs across the globe. It is also a day to evaluate how effective measures have been taken towards solving youth related problems.

Amidst this, setting new targets is a major aim of this internationally-celebrated occasion.

On the 12th of August 2019, the 20th International Youth Day was celebrated, with the theme Transforming Education and I have something to share on that.

Let’s take a review into the past and take a developing country as Nigeria for illustration. The youths of the country (Age 15-24 years) are the largest percentage of its population, about 42.48%, leaving the other two age brackets to unequally divide the percentage left.

Since the colonization of Nigeria in the 19th century and independence on the 1st of October 1960 till date, the number of educated youths has substantially increased. With formal education, even up till tertiary level, spreading across the zones of the country, with a few more places to be reached.

But taking leverage on the theme of the International Youth Day this year, maybe our focus should not just be on disseminating education but disseminating quality and a transformed education.

Education is learning skills and knowledge that are relevant to the world and the happenings in it.When it stops having relevance to its environment and or useful in the simplest scenarios, it can be said to have lost its value.

Taking lines from a publication by UNESCO in 2005 when the need for a quality education first became a global concern, “Quality means the need for more relevance, for greater equity of access and outcome and for proper observance of human rights.”

That statement sums it all up!

Our new approach towards transforming education should not be short-sighted to disseminating it alone but also ensuring its relevance in the places where it is being practiced already and to the people that it is taught.

Reading further on that publication, it says “How well pupils are taught and how much they learn can have a crucial impact on how long they stay in school and how regularly they attend.”

Obviously, the problem is not the unavailability of structures where students are taught but the unavailability of structures, systems and policies that “teaches” these students.

Do we have testimonials?
Are our youths’ potentials being maximized and unleashed in this system?
Or are they rather leaving more confused and unhappy at the end than they were at the beginning?

The answer is glaring.

Countries like South-Africa are already re-ordering their steps after they debated the relevance of degrees versus skills. They finalized by saying “Degrees are perceived to be no longer relevant to industry needs”.

Hence, they are taking a national step towards reforming their educational curriculum to ensure it entails the relevant 21st century skills like ICT skills, idea developing skills or innovation skills, as well as soft skills that ensure the long term effect of an individual.

Hilarious as it may seem, it is true that 21st century kids are being taught by 20th century adults using 19th century curriculum and techniques on 18th century calendar!

If we continue in this cycle, we might keep on producing a bunch of lost individuals who would definitely need to re-orientate themselves if they are dogged enough to head in their desired directions.

It’s not the time to keep making complaints but time to take actions and make changes in our respective little ways as teachers, life-molders or parents, while we wait for our “concerned” governments to take cues
from us.

The truth is, we are all better advocates of quality and transformed education than onlookers, because if we decide to be indifferent about it, we are all unavoidably victims, directly or indirectly.

In what way do you think we can transform education in Nigeria and what role can you play in this as a youth? I’ll like to hear from you in the comments.

About the Author

Tolulope Oladimeji is a graduate of the University of Ibadan.  She is an individual passionate about Education,  Children and making changes. Bearing from her standpoint, she hopes we can create a world where children are seen as equal humans that deserved to be loved and respected and nothing less. This she advocates for in writing and in music.
You can connect with her on Instagram- Topnotchtolu and Facebook -Oladimeji Tolulope Ruth .

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