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Opinion ED: The Solution To Nigeria’s Perishing Educational System

Posted on: May 4th, 2018 by The Moderator No Comments

Every creature is intelligent but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. It will live its whole life believing that it is stupid

The Nigerian educational system has been a thing of beauty especially during the era of our nascent republic. The crop of young leaders and their contemporaries that lived during that era possessed high levels of thinking, communication skills and articulate strategies for charting a new course for history.

Men of the older generation including; Bishop Ajayi Crowther, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and so on were all part and parcel of the full package of that kind of education.

 THE STEADY DECLINE OF EDUCATION

Somewhere during the late 90’s onwards, it was common knowledge that the standard of Nigerian education has fallen, based on the records of WAEC/NECO/JSCE/National common entrance., we have witnessed a steady downward slide in students’ performance in examinations, and several other important areas including confidence, articulation & leadership qualities.

A major reason for the decline in Nigeria’s Education System is her decision not to evolve with the fast-paced educational change the world is experiencing. The curriculum is still the way that it is. The standard was great for preparing students for the 80s but not quite for millennials and definitely not the future.

Another is the effect of brain drain, as the best of our academicians are all over the world. Brilliant professors have relocated overseas and the best of their efforts are over there instead of it being dedicated to our nation.

Increased unemployment factor is another pending issue because due to it, many people have resulted in teaching. These persons have little or no passion for the job, hence you can hardly blame them for going the extra mile. This affects the way they teach which affects what students know and of course their performance in the external examinations. Due to their inexperience, they don’t realize that everyone learns using a variety of learning styles but one learning style is usually predominant in everyone.

THE WAY FORWARD

Often times, we are blinded by the fact that we humans, all share same physical characteristics – Hands, Legs. Etc. We don’t appreciate and accommodate the differences in us. People have different learning capacities; people have different potentials. We can’t impose what we feel on students. We can’t continue to teach them what to think but rather how to think.

The simple antidote to these issues is that the Nigeria Educational System needs to restructure how Nigerians see education and empower her students effectively with life skills. The absolute most important tool for any child is ‘creativity’, students need to be taught the way to learn; explore their minds, trained to be thinkers, encourage innovations and entrepreneurial skills

Learning is the transformative process of taking in information that—when internalized and mixed with experienced, changes what we know and builds on what we do. Education, on the other hand, is the process of facilitating learning.

Due to the Complexity of the human brain, every individual is unique which proves that the process of learning will differ. Research has proven that humans basically learn using four learning styles, which are:

  1. The visual
  2. The auditory
  3. The read-write
  4. The kinesthetic

Understanding these learning styles and infusing them with the uniqueness of each child is what creates the best learning experience. The usage of these teaching techniques will make students see education as a tool that will give them an edge in life rather than a means to getting “paper” (certificate).

Finally, worthy people should be making the decisions about education especially the curriculums. These people should actually be in the system, be attending classes, be experiencing situations first hand. Not people who haven’t seen the four wall of the classroom since their graduation.

The Nigeria Educational System should focus on creating – A BUILDING OF FOURS WITH TOMORROW INSIDE.

How To Balance Parenthood & Entrepreneurship

Posted on: November 14th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

Welcome To The Octagon.

The octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Sam: Hey everyone, my name is Sam Uduma. I’m a Technology entrepreneur/pseudo civil servant 😌 I suppose in this context saying Married 2yrs + with 1 Child is in order.

Ope: Hi. My name is Opeoluwa Fasanya. Web designer, photographer and civil servant . Married 3 yrs with 1 kid.

Tola: Hello everyone, I’m Tola Akinbulumo. I’m a HR Executive. I also run a business called Houseofdeayah. Married with a munchkin aka best boy.

Uju: Hi everyone, my name is Uju Okoye, live in Missouri USA. I am a public health doctor and entrepreneur. Married for 6.5 years to an amazing man and blessed with 1 child.

Labake: Hello, my name is omolabake Olafimihan. Married for 5+ years .

Dami: Good afternoon Akinwale Damilola. Married 3-years with 1 kid. I’m the COO of Technology company.

Isioma: Good afternoon . Isioma… engineer by day… mum and idea curator always.

The Octagon: There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life — and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task.

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload — or simply keeping your head above water.

The absence of a balance, can lead to scheduling conflicts, feeling overwhelmed, over loaded, or stressed by multiple roles.

The usual situation is that If you’re spending most of your time working, though, your home life will take a hit.

For years, employees and human-resources professionals spoke of the ubiquitous desire for ‘‘work-family balance.’’ When you think of balance, there’s work on one end of the fulcrum and life on the other, and when one is up the other is down — so it’s like a zero-sum game.

Is balance is perhaps an unrealistic goal ? – a state of grace in which all is aligned… Something we all want but can never have ?  Or Is it possible to achieve balance  – spend time with family, run a business, keep your job, make money.

 

Uju: I don’t think balance is unrealistic. After all the goal is individually chosen, so you decide what suits you. It all comes down to priorities. As a woman, I must admit that if my babies are sick(big and small), then my work output suffers. Living out in the west, with the lack of extra hands, it’s the norm. Again it’s important to remember that balance and goal are all subjective. It is also important that you bring along your spouse, and that they have an understanding of the goal too.

Sam: Firstly, I’d like to say I don’t think it’s a zero sum game. One doesn’t have to suffer for the other to increase. In a weird way, without my family my work or motivation for work diminishes. So agreeing with Uju, it comes down to priorities.

Ope: I think initially something suffers. The Key is learning to quickly identify what’s suffering in the quest to achieve “balance”. But here’s the thing – Until you identify that there is a problem with balance it’s so easy to miss it.

Tola: I think it’s all about priority… it’s always what works for you best. That’s the way I’d like to describe it. I work in an office where everyone screams work life balance but never practice it. I was very quick to join the bandwagon but then I realised my home front was suffering. And so I started prioritising, what’s more important to me? Work or home or both ?

Labake: The Home front is always the first to suffer. But a partnership where both parties are willing to make sacrifices, often makes life easier. Last year I ran a postcard program. It was hard and my weekends were not available. The support of husband and family made it possible.

Uju: Exactly. It’s team work that keeps the seesaw stable.

Isioma: To me, definition of balance changes with phases of life… and balance is not homogenous. My balance may not be your balance. As long as you are well and happy, you are balanced. Instead of forcing me to stay home or indulge in hobbies when I rather chew a project at work.

Sam: Interesting points of view. I’m a guy, I will try to shy away from experiences I know nothing about like that of a working mother/wife at home. What I do hear that is consistent is that it is something deliberate that must be achieved by both husband and wife. It can’t just happen via corporate policy changes. I must say though as an entrepreneur, your business sometimes takes on the role of a stubborn child going through the same growth stages as a real child — baby, toddler, puberty, adolescent, till it becomes independent or a grown child living at home.

Can our fashion industry become the next “Nollywood” ?

Posted on: September 26th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon:

Welcome to The Octagon

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ?

Thank You.

Kelo: Hello everyone, my name is Kelo and I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur.

Tolu: My name is Tolu Olafimihan. I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur and run a clothing company called GNATION.

Ifeoma: I’m Ifeoma Odogwu. I’m a Fashion Consultant and Magazine Editor.

Seju: Hey folks…Seju Alero Mike…I run an e-commerce platform that features art & clothing – Osengwa.

Kelechi: Hi my name is Kelechi Ekeghe I am a fashion entrepreneur and I run an ecommerce platform – min.ng (Made in Nigeria).

Tinuade: Hello everyone. I’m so sorry I’m late. Internet issues. My name is Tinuade. I run a female clothing brand called Adey Soile.

The Octagon:

The Nigerian fashion industry is primarily centered around the designers. However, there are various sectors that make up the fashion industry. Also, beyond the popular/mainstream designers, there are other fashion labels and designers that have their own consumer bases.

According to an article written in 2011 by Zainab Al hassan,

“The fashion industry is divided into the creative and the sales function, that is, design and production on one side and sales and distribution on the other. In Nigeria the creative part is present but there are not enough platforms for the sales functions. As an emerging industry, Nigeria’s fashion industry should be a determining factor in our economy and for this to happen we need to clearly understand how it can work. Currently in Nigeria, there exists a lot of untapped territory, we are yet to see proudly Nigerian High Street stores, and while some designers may be heading towards this direction, there is a need for the industry to create platforms in which they can survive and be profitable. However, there is the link that exists between the fashion industry and the larger economic environment. The fashion industries which we use as a benchmark, have certain structures in place, which we are yet to have.”

Do you think there’s a disconnect between the creatives in the parts fashion industry and the sales/distribution/business side ?

Do you think we are ignoring the ‘other’ important parts of the industry ie. Models, Stylists, Media (Fashion Bloggers et al) ? What role do they play in all this ?

 

Ifeoma: There is definitely a disconnect between designers and the public. For this industry to reach its full potential, it will have to be a collective effort. I don’t think that the average Nigerian cares about buying or wearing local brands or even the designers. And the ones who care always talk about how expensive or overpriced the pieces are. In addition, the media has a lot to offer to the Buy Nigeria campaign. I was watching an episode of Ndani’s skinny girl in transit when lead actress had a photo shoot and was raving about how excited she was to be wearing Ejiro Amos Tafiri.  I thought it was awesome not because I know the designer,  but because folks who are far from the industry will watch it and become curious. I thought how cool it would be if we have more of that. In the movies, News casters and so on wear Nigerian brands etc.

The average Nigerian needs to think of Nigerian brands first when they need stuff. So I’m getting married why take my money to Zuhair when i should be looking inwards. This is where the media needs to come in. People need to know that stuff is available here and possible here. If I need a T Shirt I should think of a Nigerian store first rather than take my money to Mango.

Tinuade: I think that for most creatives, we hated math and finance subjects in school, so going into fashion to realize that it’s an important factor is very daunting. This is especially apparent in a country like Nigeria where things are even harder and 2 + 2 isn’t always 4. I think that to run a successful brand you need to become business savvy. It is so important. You can be the most amazing designer, but if you can’t run a business, then you will be a hungry designer and the brand will not survive.

Kelo: I think the market is the market and will always be. Designers are the ones with the disconnect. I believe if you create items that appeal to the larger market and not the 0.1%, then you have something. Once you have something that the market NEEDS, then trust me, the other components necessary to build an industry will pop up. Nigerians are very enterprising. Let’s take a cue from the music industry. We need to lose this “Buy Nigerian” mentality. If you create dope merchandise and provide great quality service, people will buy.

Ifeoma: I don’t even think the Buy Nigerian movement is where it’s supposed to be. Yes Kelo if u produce dope stuff then you can appeal to anyone but people will buy who and what they know and are familiar with. Its that simple.   If they dont know you how are they going to shop your pieces.  If I need running shoes I Will go to Nike because I ‘know’ they are the best for what I need.

Kelechi: Very true @kelo Just like every business skill isn’t enough … players in the industry do not set proper structure to connect with and thrive in the market. Skill isn’t enough. You must understand your market, create products that appeals to them.

Tolu: I think the disconnect between creatives and the business side of the fashion industry is quickly bridged once the 1s and 2s needs to add up. The creatives from the fashion designer  to the models, to the bloggers all need each other to make a profit. No matter how fantastic a designer can create, or a model can walk or a blogger can write, if no one buys the designers pieces, he/she isn’t going to sell anything. If the model doesn’t get to wear any clothes on a showcase, she’s just any other girl. If the blogger has no content, it’s an empty blog space.

Seju: I agree with that there is a bit of a disconnect between the creative and sales function…actually maybe I’m wrong on that..as opposed to a disconnect the issue is there isn’t enough of an established separation and acknowledgement of the different distinct roles that each side needs to play. The current set up is that creatives are the distribution chain…and because creatives don’t necessarily have a full grasp of the business end of production and distribution they stall.

I believe if you create items that appeal to the larger market and not the 0.1%, then you have something. Once you have something that the market NEEDS, then trust me, the other components necessary to build an industry will pop up. Nigerians are very enterprising.

Tinuade:  I don’t think that it’s that simple. There are many designers worldwide who are hungry, but Zara makes a lot of money copying designs because he understands business. Understands distribution, sales, marketing etc

Kelechi: Pricing is also another issue… must “designers” want to be premium brands for the HNI. Because there are more people in the  mass and upper mass market.  I am a promoter of made in Nigeria, but we need to understand that the market is not driven by sentiments but by demand and supply. There is also an orientation  issue here – even those who produce here think that it’s better to set high or unreasonable prices to build their brand. They go for  high margin, not market share.

Tinuade: Hmmmm pricing. I feel like there are different brands with different price points and target markets. There are brands like Eve and Tribe that offer less expensive pieces. I for one will definitely use a local garment production company if it was reasonable priced with good quality.

Seju: Yes…yes and yes. Pricing is an issue, but from my experience working with designers, pricing is an issue when they produce overseas. So your costs are in FX but you intend to make revenue in Naira…this disconnect is a major part of the problem with the Nigerian story as a whole. And because of this I am definitely a supporter of the “Buy Nigerian” movement. However I also agree with Kelo that great products, excellent customer service plus the right marking strategy and you can appeal to anyone. So in as much as I support buy Nigerian and I’m also firmly in the improve the quality camp.

The Octagon: Taking from the conversation so far, is production the biggest challenge in the fashion industry vs sales?

Ifeoma: The truth is that the prices here are not very pocket friendly and how everyone can win here is by embracing Garment construction companies. Nigerians don’t see it, but it can be huge.  These companies are way cheaper to produce your stuff from. And will in turn reduce the prices of pieces on the racks. Not every designer needs to run an elaborate Atelier with  tailors who may decide to take off any day and trust me I’ve heard stories.

Kelechi: I agree with you. You see Nike didn’t get their market share in one day…. if they don’t know you today…they will know you tomorrow, if you have a good marketing plan.

Tinuade:  I think that production is the biggest challenge. At least that has been my experience. Producing abroad has become nearly impossible if you want to keep decent prices. So, I agree with Ifeoma about the need for local garment manufacturing companies. Currently, producing here with local talent is extremely difficult and inefficient.

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