Private Sector Participation in Education and skills development:
The case of Nigeria, a developing Nation
Benedict O. Emunemu (University of Ibadan, Nigeria)
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Public education systems in many developing countries like Nigeria, face a number of challenges. Curricula are often outdated; textbooks and other instructional materials are often in short supply; and student/teacher ratios are well above desired levels, student retention rates and international test scores are both low, among others. There is growing evidence that private participation in education can improve effectiveness in developing countries in a cost-effective manner and without compromising equity. In addition, a number of studies demonstrate that private participation can encourage the public sector to improve the quality and efficiency of public schools. Competition among providers of services can lower costs and improve responsiveness to the needs of consumers.
It is against the above background that the paper examines the case for the promotion of private sector participation in education and development of skills of entrepreneurship and innovation in a developing country as Nigeria on a sustainable basis. This paper reviews the role of the three tiers of government (federal, state and local government) in the provision and funding of education, while recognizing the fact that the private sector has not played a prominent role in this respect. The paper, however, acknowledges the contributions of the private sector in the area of skills development as well as the provision of scholarships and bursaries to undergraduate students in institutions of higher learning in the country. The paper notes specifically that, in the area of partnerships, the private sector could work with educational institutions to ensure the relevance of curriculum to private sector needs. Finally, the paper considers a number of partnership initiatives, and these include: corporate executives to work with educators to develop curricula that reflect private-sector technology, standards and practice; educational institutions with business collaborating together to set up programmes to focus on various specific aspects of business, for example, finance; mentor programmes, whereby professionals and entrepreneurs have links with individual students; provision of management expertise; among others. The paper will also evaluate success models of another developing country for comparative purpose.