The National Universities Commission (NUC) has said failure to recognise the correlation between quality knowledge, economic growth and prosperity is the bane of the country’s underdevelopment.
Similarly, the World Bank has warned that Nigeria will be unable to sustain high level of growth and productivity without increased access to science, technology and innovation.
The NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, noted that though it has been established globally that rapid economic advancement and prosperity of nations is linked to their quality of education, Nigeria has failed to embrace this reality.
At the commissioning of World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) for Oilfield Chemical Research at the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State, the Executive Secretary explained the reason Nigeria is not among the league of innovation economies in the world, saying: “If you plan well and invest in education, particularly higher education, in research and development, you are more likely to join that group.
In Africa, only three countries are among 50 most innovative economies: Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa. You can see we do not belong. We are not in the top 100 because we do not invest much per capital in higher education in particular.”
World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence project co-task team leader for Nigeria, Ms. Aisha Garba, said education holds the key to the transformation of Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
She observed that despite the progress and increasing demand for higher education in Africa, where the number of graduates have doubled over the last five years, access still remains at five per cent, which is just one fifth of the 25 percent global average.
According her, there are challenges of skill shortage in Nigeria and the rest of the continent in addressing development and poverty reduction.
Garba said the World Bank’s desire is to see that through the Africa centre of excellence project, universities in Nigeria and the rest of the continent will be able to respond to the dynamics of the Africa labour market by ensuring the production of quality graduates.