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Nigeria 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: BUSINESS MINDSET

Enrollment in tertiary education programs in Nigeria and beyond has been on the rise in line with growing demand to foster entrepreneurial success.

The role and nature of management studies around the world are changing at a rapid rate, with the social, economic, environmental, and technological landscape providing new opportunities as well as challenges for those involved in business education to develop managers and leaders for tomorrow. Today, business schools in every continent are constantly being challenged to stay in shape and keep pace with the thinking of leaders of the new generation who have different aspirations and outlooks as compared to their predecessors. The African continent includes certain countries with exceptional economic growth, which is the result of increasing political stability as well as the abundance of natural resources. The young population in the continent demands access to quality education and seeks to improve their quality of life. For most, the focus has now changed towards an opportunity rather than a challenge.

According to Higher Education in Nigeria: A Status Report written by William Saint, Teresa A. Hartnett, and Erish Strasser in 2004, “In Nigeria, primary education enrolls 81% of the relevant age group and graduates 69% of these.” This indicates that only about half of all enrolled children completed their primary education. In fact, the adult literacy rate stands at 59.56%, as measured by the World Bank in 2015. Enrolment in secondary and tertiary education programs have been on the rise, however. Hon. Dr. Deji Awobotu, CEO of ADRAC Business School, told TBY, “No amount of universities in Nigeria will be sufficient. We have a population of over 170 million and year in year out we have individuals graduating from secondary school seeking admission to university. Education is everything; if we lose education, we have lost our future. Therefore, we need to ensure that private universities and institutions are available at an affordable price, and the more institutions we have, the cheaper the price will be.”

The most popular fields for Nigerian students are business management, engineering, health, and life sciences. An increasing trend toward business schools is a reaction to the need for distinctive leadership qualities that have become essential in the ever-growing economy of the country. Lagos is the most aspiring state in the country and offers a vast range of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Since business schools provide guidance from start to finish, students have the opportunity to realize their ambitions as well as understand the many ways through which they can become innovative. Business schools also tend to offer global reach. Leading business schools have begun to establish their centers in Sub-Saharan states while exchange programs have also begun to be an attractive option for students today.

Nigeria is touted as being the economic hub of the continent and is expected to be the next powerhouse within the MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey).

Business schools have responded to this situation. For example, IE set up its 27th international office in Lagos in 2014. Presently, the school has enrolled more than 50 Nigerian students, with many more standing in line. The IESE Business School started in Nigeria around 20 years ago in collaboration with the Lagos Business School. Dr Enase Okonedo, Dean of the Lagos Business School, told TBY how it started. “We began a joint executive MBA program with IESE Business School in Barcelona in 1996 and the School admitted the first set of MBA students the same year. In 2002, we received the license to operate as a university. Since then, we have grown into a full-fledged business school with a portfolio of executive programs, degree programs, and custom programs that are tailored specifically to meet companies' needs.”

Having effective leadership skills is important for Nigerian businesses to remain sustainable and competitive in the global economy. With a tough and thriving environment, business schools in Lagos have also become a popular destination for regional and international professionals who want to seek board-level positions and have turned towards entering MBA programs. Future leaders should have the ability to innovate and entrepreneurs should be motivated to challenge the status quo. Business schools help in fostering professional and personal improvement in all areas and serve as a positive investment with respect to entrepreneurial success.