Take advantage of COVID-19 to develop education system, CWG boss advises

Founder of CWG Plc, Austin Okere, has advised policy makers and other concern Nigerians not to waste the opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather exploit the opportunity to plan for sustainability in the country’s education systems across all levels.

Okere, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at CBS, New York, stated this in an article titled ‘Re-imagining the business school model.

“There have been various experiences and pronouncements regarding the education of our youth in the past couple of weeks. At the local secondary level, my son’s school completed the syllabus for the current term through online classes at home.

“Far afield, the Harvard University is offering 67 online courses for free to help academics through lockdown and quarantine; while Coursera is partnered with 192 institutions from 43 countries and offering more than 3,200 online courses in 13 languages.

“In sharp contrast, the Kano State Government has ordered all schools to stop online classes immediately, while the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) through an interview of their President, Biodun Ogunyemi with the Punch Newspaper has declared that E-Learning cannot work in Nigeria.

“In my view, the real questions become: Are we setting the right expectation for Business School aspirants? Have schools missed the train of the Digital Revolution? Why are they refusing to innovate in today’s age of Digital Platforms?

Okere said in his more than ten years of being an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Columbia Business School in New York, and serving on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship, he has been preaching the need to re-imagine the Business School model to produce graduates who can thrive now and into the future.

“We need to start teaching people to learn “how to learn” rather than just to learn to master something, in this fast-disruptive world. The inverted classroom should be the new norm – the creative contribution of the class with a facilitator is much more effective than the messianic delivering of long lectures by a “professor”.

He explained that there is the need to encourage business schools to explore structures that teach how to leverage the need for inclusiveness, by bringing products and services to non-consumers through low-cost efficiencies and wider availability than fierce competition in a shrinking pie of current consumers.

“Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are gradually taking the toll off traditional schools leveraging the ubiquity of broadband and connected devices – how well have we embraced the concept of MOOCs – concerns around quality of programs and teachers, while relevant, should not stop this viable way of reaching more people.

“They should be seen as a complement to traditional business schools than competition, especially in emerging markets, where 80 percent of the world resides, and are more likely to be excluded in formal settings.

“It is important for Regulation to catch up in this new area, as we open the door to online education and degrees,” he added.