This conversation is cantered on the technology advocacy for the establishment of National Kindergarten Free-Education Fund system for Nigeria and Africa.
This call is aimed at drastically reducing the digital technology deficit and endemic divide that currently hunts the continent at a fearsome speed. Technology deficit in national development model overtly increases the economic state of in-country consumerism without commensurate production of goods and services. The aggregate returns of development translates to chaotic leadership, poverty, illiteracy, and indebtedness to tech-savvy nations.
Indeed, with fossil fuel dichotomy, a monumental challenge awaits developing countries – the Climate-divide challenge! A new value chain of future of work has emerged with the Climate change challenge. The adaptation to renewable energy requires massive know-how, new technologies and new-knowledge ecosystem. Those who will live in the not-too-distant future will be compelled to master the environment with new competencies and skills.
Interrogating the challenges of digital transformation without a distinct focus on Kindergarten education for all children from age 0-5 is incomplete for the attainment of sustainable development and security of life and property and strategically flawed. The brain maturity architecture process is built from ground-up and not top down. How can a nation like Nigeria equalize technology deficit and attain productive and innovative economy and national development without a conscious knowledge development program for the kids?
The foregoing question has hunted us for many decades.
The current attempts to deliver sustainable solutions have remained a constant mirage – now magnified by the surge of population growth. According to the latest United Nations population survey, ‘the world’s population will break through the 8 billion thresholds in 2023. There will be more men than women, and in 2023 the number of over 60s will top 1 billion for the first time. Also, more than half of the global population growth by 2050 will come from sub-Saharan Africa; where fertility rates will persist at levels far higher than in the rest of the world’.
The new equation for the future of work dictates that developing nations must drive productivity and development with technology-centric mission; planning and logic systems to arrive at a globally competitive economic model. This demands greater urgency, rather than promoting a rigid non-production consumerism model that depends entirely on externalized knowledge. To do this, we must advance the mission of refocusing education from the kindergarten level and equalise vocational technical traineeship with traditional education.
Establishing a National Kindergarten-free Education Fund is fundamental to reducing the education poverty and technology deficit that has enslaved our national economy for too long. There is strong evidence that children who undergo pre-K education enter the standard schooling state more prepared than their peers. They can comprehend the subjects; read better and understand Mathematical challenges than those who did not experience Kindergarten pre school knowledge adventure. Indeed, available records show that the performances of those preschool children amount to over 46 per cent of the top ratings in their class at a given time.
For production intensive nations, consumerism becomes a constructive strategy for national development; especially if the model is empowered by export strategies. But that is not the case for nations who prefer to consume rather than produce and consume what they produce. This is especially worrisome when their product consumption model is predominantly dependent on other countries. For those consumer-centric nations, their foreign debt profile will continue to grow exponentially while their GDP takes a nosedive. Those outcomes are significantly spurred by underdevelopment of the agriculture sector which contributes the lion share of their economic balance sheet.
In particular, education models that are predominantly theory-based and deficient in research and practical skills will become a development liability. Consequently, those deficiencies further spurs and produces weak judiciary and chaotic governance amongst others.
Cumulative Technology deficit will negatively accelerate low productivity and intensity economic consumerism for unprepared nations. The indicators on which a sound economic and sustainable development models are based; overtly rely on the production capacities, in-country consumption demand; as well as dynamic market-selling abilities of such goods at the international market.
The gross national product as we know, is the total sum of goods and services produced for a specific period at a specific time. Whereas consumerism refers to the consumption of imported goods and services at a higher rate. No Doubt, the Chambers of Commerce all over the world have contributed immensely to human development. But the empowerment pillar behind the scenes is Technology enabled Science. Therefore, particularly for developing economies, it is now the time to transform the current structure of our trade and commerce into independent Chambers of Technology (CoT) to fire national production process, internal consumption and transform the model of trade, entrepreneurship, and commerce.
Notable benefits of Chambers of Technology include but not limited to upskilling manufacturing processes; positive enhancement of production Infrastructure; Environment, Agriculture, Education, Health, Entertainment, and others. The audacity and resilience to master Technology-of-things (ToT) continue to redefine the future of work, education, and commerce at all levels. Indeed, technology enabled manufacture of Agricultural products accelerates the market and creates multiple economic increment of demand; as well as intensifies employment in the supply chain.
Though education differs from country to countries; the African continent continues to register a large deficit both in education funding and research. For example, one in five children, adolescents and youth worldwide are out of school; a figure that has barely changed over the past five years (UNESCO). According to UNICEF, Youth literacy rates have improved from 83% to 91% over two decades. Western and Southern Asia has the lion’s share of illiterate people aged 15 years and older; accounting for 52% of 774 million illiterate people (UNESCO). Sudan ranks lowest of sub-Saharan Africa with a literacy rate of 27%; followed by Afghanistan (28.1%); Niger (28.7%); Mali (33.4%); Chad (35.4%); Ethiopia (39%) and Guinea (41%).
It is also alarming to note that 493 million women are illiterate; representing two-thirds of the entire illiterate population in 2013. In one of three countries, less than three quarters of teachers are trained to national standards; resulting in 130 million children enrolled in schools who are not even learning the basics (Global Citizen).
Meanwhile, UIS data shows that 750 million adults, two-thirds of which are women, lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO). A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5 (Global Citizen). Worldwide, there are more than 150 million children aged 3 to 5 who do not have access to pre-primary education; including more than 80% of children in low-income countries (GEM Report Policy Paper).
For every 100 boys of primary school age out of school; there are 123 girls denied the right to education (UNESCO).
All the above represent evident indicators that the current education and by extension; technology deficits in Africa will continue to increase negatively unless visionary moon-shot strategies are developed and vigorously implemented. Therefore, the most probable model for drastically reducing those deficits aimed at eliminating their ferocious impacts is to codify and adopt foresighted national and continental policy frameworks.
To determine the future of African children with deterministic vision, now requires urgent action.
This calls for the establishment of a national and Africa-wide Free-Kindergarten Fund; with an initial live span of fifty (50) years without further delay.
No doubt, the consequences of not implementing this strategic model will negatively hunt the Continent for a very long time, now and in the future. Time to act is now.