The Nigerian Education Milieu in the SDG Era: The Roles, Values, Challenges and Prospects of ODL and Lifelong Learning

Adeyinka Olumuyiwa Osunwusi


National governments are under increasing pressures to address issues surrounding sustainable development. Interestingly, considerable attention is shifting towards education, which has been widely recognized not only as a fundamental human right but also as a catalyst for sustainable development and a vehicle for confronting the challenges facing societies in terms of profound shifts in demographics as well as socio-economic, environmental and ecological realities. As a corollary, ODL and lifelong learning have equally been identified as constituting a force contributing to social and economic development.  As a member of the United Nations, Nigeria is committed to achieving not only the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 but also the Global Goals, especially SDG 4 on equitable quality education. This paper examines the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals and explores, based on a review of extant literature, the conceptual and theoretical dimensions of ODL and lifelong learning in the context of their role, values, challenges and opportunities. The paper also outlines current trends in the context of the Nigerian education system and suggests policy, strategy and institutional considerations for mainstreaming ODL and lifelong learning for the purpose of achieving SDG 4. The review of related literature included a search of both published and conference papers and deployed systematic procedures for an exploration of perspectives and ideologies on the key issues of the Global Goals, sustainable development, education for sustainable development (ESD), ODL, and lifelong learning. The study revealed that while the Global Goals are enjoying increasing buy-ins, progress towards achieving the SDGs – particularly Goal 4 – has been unimpressive in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The study also identified trends, challenges and opportunities for integrating ESD in education, ODL and lifelong learning in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. Based on an evaluation and analysis of perspectives, the study concluded that Nigeria is still a long way to achieving the SDGs. A number of suggestions were made towards a reasonable achievement of sustainable development goal 4, including the importance of: strengthening relevant constitutional framework on education; providing supportive policy and institutional frameworks; and integrating the philosophies of sustainable development in education and training at all levels.

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