Nigeria has a very young population, with a median age of 18.4 years of age (World Population Review) more than 70% of Nigeria’s population is below 35 years. With such a youthful demography there is such a tremendous opportunity and possibility for growth and development.
However, in order to harness the full potential of its youthful population, it is important that Nigeria focuses on addressing the factors that could inhibit the full utilisation and deployment of its youth. Emphasis should be on ways to guarantee a better future for young people, starting with critically addressing education and closing the skills gap, especially in the face of a sweeping era of digital innovation and transformation.
The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is very apt for describing what Nigeria urgently needs to focus on, “Transforming Education”. There is critical need for the country to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth. Accessible and quality education is strongly linked to other concerns such as employment and future of work.
Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG), is ‘Quality Education’ which is the foundation to creating sustainable development and improves quality of life as well as equip youth with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. SDG 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
This year’s Youth Day commemoration looks at how governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education and how these efforts are contributing to the achievement of SDG 4 by 2030. Doing Good Works Nigeria, for example, recognises that education is not inclusive enough and tackles the challenge of access to training to young people, especially girls and women who belong to vulnerable groups or in vulnerable situations, and takes into consideration their diverse needs and abilities, as well as recognises their unique realities and identities.
Education is a ‘development multiplier’ seeing as it plays an important role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies. Education should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life, but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring. Once youth are able to receive adequate education to help them seize the right opportunities, everything changes. Avenues to employment such as entrepreneurship open up, economic growth improves and everyone in society benefits.