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Experts bare thoughts on Nigeria’s education crisis

Experts bare thoughts on Nigeria’s education crisis

Traditional media and social media platforms have lent voices to the crisis rocking Africa’s most populous nation’s education system with Kaduna state teachers’ competency test seemingly the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back and experts are baring thoughts on what this means.

To show how much of a national concern this has become, President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted, on his personal handle as follows, “I just opened a special retreat of the Federal Executive Council on challenges facing Nigeria’s education sector. We’ve brought together Government officials, academic experts, civil society and development institutions for this all-important conversation” Buhari, 74 tweeted, Nov. 13.

“I touched on the situation in Kaduna, where Gov Elrufai is trying to implement some important reforms. It’s a very serious situation when teachers cannot pass the exams they’re supposed to administer to their students. It underscores the urgent need for comprehensive national reform” Buhari added.

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To give context, in October, some 33,000 public school teachers took competency test in Kaduna state and 21,700 failed. Nasir El-Rufai, governor of the state, blamed a politicised hiring process for the 66 per cent failure rate and vowed to clean up the system.

This might not have come as a surprise to people familiar with the matter because only 65 per cent of current primary school teachers have the minimum qualifications. Yet high regulatory barriers limit the growth of new colleges of education through private sector investment and the market remains highly fragmented. Expert views on the nature and value of Kaduna state teachers’ competency test contend that it was not only in comprehensive but violated professional ethics about confidentiality by sharing scripts of the test results on social media.

“There are three domains of competency a teacher should be evaluated upon, which include competency as a teacher, competency in teaching and subject matter knowledge. The Kaduna state competency test dwelt on subject matter knowledge which is important but limited” said Yomi Fawehinmi, a learning and development expert at Chevron Ltd. during a Channels TV morning show Nov. 11.

Fawehinmi illustrated with an analogy.  “When in school sometimes the teacher that has the most impact on students is not a subject teacher but a housemaster or may hold some similar position as a teacher.”

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In an open letter of Oct. 20 to El Rufai published by the Cable, an online news platform, Fawehinmi added his voice to numerous others as follows. “Transformational leaders transform people and things. They don’t transform by selling off poor staff and shipping in new replacements. Transformational leaders take rough cuts and turn them into gold. That’s what I would like you to also do. ”

This view was reechoed by David Okoro, a retired Director of the Federal Ministry of Education who reiterated that the classroom teachers being tested did not just get in there. They were recruited and some of them got promoted and suddenly “the teachers are being victimised. This has always been the case. The teachers are never trained but are expected to be at their best. The failure of the school inspection system is largely responsible for this, the retired educationist said. Not everyone is competent to evaluate a system or teachers.”

The open letter continues “I heard you told the World Bank’s delegation that, the hiring of teachers in the past was politicised and we intend to change that by bringing in young and qualified primary school teachers to restore the dignity of education in the state,”. How do you know the hiring was politicised? Okay, assuming it was, why not turn it around? That’s what leaders do. They turn things around. And as for you hire qualified people? Why not qualify the people you have rather than looking for qualified people?”

No, the crocodile state governor is determined and Nov. 17, tweeted “as at close of work yesterday, State Universal Basic Board received in total, 27, 444 applications from prospective teachers. Deadline for recruitment is two days from now. Please be informed that the will collect submissions on Saturday and Sunday.”