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Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, has called on the Federal Government, states and the private sector in the country to come up with robust measures and workable plans towards combating the issue of brain drain and ‘japa syndrome’ among Nigerian youths.

The governor emphasised the importance of creating a conducive educational environment for young Nigerians to thrive in their pursuit of academic skills, stating that the continued loss of skilled manpower to foreign countries is inimical to Nigeria’s development.

Governor Makinde stated this on Friday, during the International Education Conference, ISAF 2024, held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

The governor, who was represented by the Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Salihu Abdulwaheed Adelabu, acknowledged that though there is nothing wrong with Nigerians seeking foreign education, it is imperative that they return home to put such acquired skills to use in the development of the country.

Makinde, who reeled out some of his achievements in the education sector, equally proposed initiatives such as improving infrastructure, investing in education and skills development, and creating job opportunities to retain talents within the country.

He added that his government had also put in place some strategic measures to open up access to qualitative education and created a conducive learning environment for all, noting that the state was ranked 3rd in the 2023 NECO result as a result of his administration’s huge investment in the education sector.

Explaining how his bottom-up approach to managing the education sector has paid off, the governor said the state received a positive rating as one of the best in Nigeria in the area of removal of favoritism and nepotism in the process of recruiting teachers into the sector.

The ISAF 2024 event, packaged in two parts; the international education conference and study fair, was aimed at equipping young Nigerians aspiring to study abroad with requisite knowledge to guide them through the process and how such acquired academic knowledge can be deployed to benefit the nation upon completion of their studies.

Addressing journalists shortly after his address, the governor’s representative said: “What we’re saying is that the governor wants all indigenes of Oyo State to have unhindered access to qualitative education and that the barriers should be removed.

“That is why he is saluting the courage of the International Study Abroad Fair (ISAF 2024) for the programme they have brought to Ibadan.

“Governor Makinde does not see anything bad about young Nigerians seeking foreign education, but after acquiring the knowledge they should come back to Nigeria and contribute their quota to the development of the nation. That is the take home from today’s event.”

Also speaking, the chief host of the event, Lady Tolu Eledan, who is the Managing Director of TPSEAL Education, United Kingdom, told newsmen that what informed the event was the desire to change the narrative about international education.

She noted that the organisers chose to start with Oyo State as a result of the governor’s vision and achievements in the education sector.

Eledan said: “The take home from today’s event is that we want to change the narrative about international education.”

“We’re starting with Oyo State, because this is home for us and we believe in the vision of the governor of the state who is keen and passionate about education as well as removing education barriers and creating access for all to acquire education.”

Some of the keynote speakers narrated how the COVID-19 influenced education advancement through technology and emphasised the need for Nigerians abroad and others desperate to ‘japa’ to bring back the intellectual assets acquired from overseas to develop the nation.

The speakers included the pro-Chancellor and Chairman, University Governing Council, LAUTECH, Professor Deji Omole; Vice Chancellor, University of Botswana, Professor David Norris and the Oyo State Commissioner for Works, Professor Dahud Sangodoyin.

In his keynote address entitled: “Lifelong Benefits of Study Abroad,” the Executive Adviser on Agribusiness and Director-General of Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr Debo Akande, narrated how his ‘japa’ in his early years has aided him in performing well in his chosen career.

He noted, however, that this was possible because he returned home to put the same acquired education to use, stressing that with the turn of global events, ‘japada’ (return home) should be part of the plans for Nigerians seeking foreign education.

One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion, which centered around the theme of the event tagged: “Access for All.”

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