How Africa Can Develop Rapidly, Jonathan, Oborevwori, Obaseki, Obi, Others brainstorm at Benin Dialogue

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By Sam Akanimo

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State, his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, and others have unveiled the gateway for Africa’s rapid transformation.

Speaking at the President Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Democracy Dialogue, they all agreed that for the rapid development of the continent, there is a need to establish special education that will cater for the needs of gifted children.

The event had as its theme: “Functional Education and Effective Political Leadership As A Panacea To Africa’s Growth And Development.” It was held in Benin City, the Edo capital.

Jonathan, the convener, while making a case for the establishment of special schools for gifted children, said as a former governor of Bayelsa State, he started the programme there and also replicated it as president of Nigeria.

Oborevwori said, “the theme of this year’s dialogue: ‘Functional Education and Effective Political Leadership As Panacea To Africa’s Growth And Development’ is particularly germane as there is a direct connection between functional education and effective leadership.

“Functional Education offers opportunities of studying and understanding one another, appreciating the many diverse cultures and societies out of which nations live in peace and understanding to ensure social cohesion, national development and political stability.

“Functional Education will impact society, especially its product, leadership, because they have been tutored through a well-developed curriculum whose center piece is the full realisation of human capacity and sustainable development of society.

“We are talking of a curriculum which does not view education as merely learning the subject matter. Functional instructions connect every study with specific needs and roles to which the student’s mind should be directed.

“This allows the child to acquire thinking habits and develop other societal ethos that broaden visions capable of forging ways and means of solving problems of a country, whether they are technical, economic, political or cultural.

“However, while functional education is key, leadership is central to the advancement of society. The success of any organization or administration is a function of leadership. It therefore means that functional education is necessary for an informed polity.”

Peter Obi, who was the 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, commended Jonathan for the sacrifice he made in sustaining democracy in the country and his stance on free and fair election in the country.

Obi said functional education remained the most important fundamental issue for development and advised that what the country needed at present was to take actions and accomplish something meaningful for the country, instead of mere promises.

The Keynote Speaker, Prof. Olubayi Olubayi, the Chief Academic Officer of Maarifa Education Holdings and Chairman of the University Council, Cavendish University, Uganda, postulated that for over 100 years, while other continents of the world had moved forward, Africa remained backwards because its nations have not been able to provide education for every child, and secondly, Africa has not made provision for special education for gifted children.

Olubayi said the only continent lagging behind was Africa and because we choose to import expatriates to build our industries, refine our raw materials, generate our electricity, build our telecom instead of focusing on manufacturing our products, Africa would continue to remain backward.

He said other continents and countries like India and China had advanced greatly because they placed emphasis on special education by locating children with special talents and giving them special education.

Olubayi acknowledged that God in His undemocratic nature created some tall while others are short, some white and others black which testify to the fact that there was need for Africa to wake up and build special schools for gifted children in the continent.

He observed that focus on mathematics, a major subject, had been neglected by most schools in Africa, urging political leaders to place a premium on mathematics in African educational systems.

He noted that in 2022, Israel, with an average population of 9 million, had 17,327 discoveries, while Nigeria with about 200 million people, registered only 16 discoveries, concluding that those who have nothing and refused to register something would end up remaining nothing.

The ceremony was attended by former President of Kenya Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, former President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, former vice President of Nigeria, Dr Namadi Sambo, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen Lawrence Eghrudjakpo among others.


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