Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Sterling Bank, has announced the allocation of up to N50 billion in funding to support the development of Nigeria’s education infrastructure, drive its productivity and contribution to the Nigerian economy.
The Divisional Head of Business Growth and Transaction Banking at Sterling Bank, Obinna Ukachukwu, who disclosed this in a statement in Lagos recently, said the bank will invest in courses and professions that are in demand and have a high potential of generating sustainable income for the individual and the economy.
He said the bank’s focus is on professions that enable individuals to contribute productively to their communities and the nation, where there is ready demand in the public and private sectors to absorb the graduates, thereby shortening the period from graduation to productivity.
According to him, “ We will support infrastructural development needed to produce skilled labour in specific sectors of interest. Most sectors broadly cover health, and public goods and services like utilities, power, water, and waste management etc., we believe that if the government is focused on developing these basic services, we will need skilled manpower to drive them, and these skills can only be provided by the universities.
This way our universities will become more focused on clear curriculums that lead to developing such skilled manpower – this is the kind of value-chain Sterling Bank will back as it will produce a lot of graduates who will get jobs that will, in turn, create more value to sustain the initiatives.”
Ukachukwu said it is important to focus on building professions that can solve Nigeria’s problems rather than pursuing grandiose projects with little applicability to society or the economy. He also noted that foreign investments in the Nigerian education sector may not be the most practical solution, as local investment is more than capable of bridging the development financing gap.
The Divisional Head also spoke to the bank’s recent exploits in addressing the value gap between academia and industry, adding that Sterling Bank initiated the country’s first student loan scheme in software engineering to invest in fields where graduates can secure employment upon graduation.
He said the bank introduced a nine-month diploma program in software engineering, costing between N3 million-N3.5 million per student.
“So, we started with a diploma program in software engineering for nine months, which costs between N3 million-N3.5 million per head, and everybody that has gone through it has got a job and is paying back their loans.”
“We have told ourselves that in every field that people can be independently productive for the country or get employment in, we are ready to put capital behind it, whether it is in the development of infrastructure or giving student loans,” Ukachukwu said.