The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, says skilling is the only answer to the joblessness faced by 75 per cent of Nigerian school leavers.

Mr Mamman was speaking at a Two-Day Stakeholders Consultation Meeting of the National Policy on Skill Development in Abuja on Thursday.
The meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and supported by UNICEF and UNESCO.
The minister said that the education system must have the national values lifelong skills that would make Nigerians connect to the society.

He noted that the knowledge of skills must start from the early years through to the tertiary levels, saying this was the only way to empower the youths.

“Skills will benefit 75 per cent of Nigerians who do not make it to tertiary education. Right now, they are struggling with how to survive because they don’t have any qualification and skills which they can take to the market.
“But, with what we are set out to do now, schools will deliver skills to all their students right from primary school through secondary schools.

“And once they do that, they will graduate with craftsmanship, artisanship qualifications and digital technology in coding, and diverse skills which are all available in various sectors of our economy,” he said.

The minister said that by statistics, only 25 per cent of students, who wrote WAEC and NECO, proceeded to tertiary institutions, noting that the 75 per cent left have no employment, no education and no training.

“This is a very serious problem. Skilling is also the structural way to address the out-of-school issue because when they acquire skills, there will no longer be people who are out-of-school.
“This is because they would have finished their school and it will also be a major attraction for them to remain in school,” he added.

He noted that stakeholders were already working on the policy on skills development with the expectations that the policy would be ready by July.
“The policy is already on ground but needs a lot of practical input to identify and provide in the curriculum the diversity of skills appropriate for each level of education.

“So, we should be done with this phase by July and start implementation by September,” he said.

Also, the Chief of Education, UNICEF Nigeria, Saadhana Panday, said Nigeria’s education sector is challenged with crises ranging from out-of-school children, numeracy and literacy skills, among others.

Ms Panday said that the challenges must be addressed headlong for Nigerian children to competitive roles among their counterparts.

“One in four children is out-of- school, and three in four cannot read or solve simple mathematics problems.

“Only seven per cent of youth aged 15 to 24 have ICT skills. These numbers are more than statistics; they represent unfulfilled dreams and stunted opportunities for millions of young people,” she said.

UNICEF Education Manager Munamuzunga Sikaulu, in a remark, explained that the consultation was aimed at reflecting on the foundational literacy and numeracy skills, digital skills, transferable 21st century skills and job-specific skills.