BusinessDay

Here are steps Nigeria education sector needs to fast track growth

Peter Okebukola, chairman of Council, National Open University of Nigeria has opined that the identified lapses in Nigerian education system should squarely be placed on Nigerians.

Okebukola stated that as architects of our misfortunes, Nigerians can collectively turnaround these challenges to be architects of our fortune.

Okebukola made this known recently in a keynote address presented at the International colloquium to mark the 80th birthday of Professor Olu Aina, noting that all stakeholders in education have roles to play in redeeming the poor image of the sector.

According to him, “Government, teachers, parents, learners, the media, religious organisations, private sector, non-governmental organisations and local communities, and others, should play roles.

Okebukola while delivering a paper titled: The Place and State of Education in Nigeria’s Development: Imperative and Urgency of Reform. Can the Dry Bones of Quality Education Rise Again? opines that it is the responsibility of government to lay down policies for the smooth running of the educational system.

“Beyond policy formulation, standards setting and policy implementation are other roles.  Within this global picture, government (federal, state and local) should carry the funding burden of between 70 – 80 percent of the educational sector of a country at our stage of development”, Okebukola said.

On policy formulation, he observes that cross-national comparisons confirm that the Nigerian National Policy on Education and policies enacted at the State and local government levels are among the best in the world.  When viewed in the light that the system for which these good policies are enacted is among the weakest in the world, we cannot look too far to isolate deficiency in policy implementation as the culprit. 

“On most policy prescriptions including quality and quantity of infrastructure, quality and quantity of teachers, quality of the instructional delivery process, the system has faltered.  The question that immediately arises is why is the system failing?”

“We can assert that the system has under-performed for three major reasons.  First, and not in any order, is the inability of government to provide basic infrastructure and teaching/learning facilities for quality education at all levels of the system.  If you go with me on a journey to a country where the leadership is serious about education, you will find huge disparities with what exists in Nigeria”, Okebukola said. 

He observes that typical Nigerian public secondary school lacks basic infrastructure of electricity and water, exceedingly poor classroom environment with severe inadequacies in library and laboratory facilities.  The same contrast that we have seen for the secondary school is replicated at the basic and higher educational levels.

In suggesting the way out of this current challenges the distinguished professor  of science and technology education, Lagos State University LASU called on governments at all level to build and resource our schools to meet international standards and be learner friendly.

He maintains that there is need to train a new breed of 21st century teachers who are steeped in the use of modern methods of instruction and are at the cutting edge of knowledge in their subject matter.

In his words, government needs to provide a curriculum running from basic through higher education that will lead students to develop 21st century skills and make them acquire values of good citizenship.

“Improve funding to education and enforce transparency and accountability in the financing of education; Set up a national network of quality assurance system for basic education with state inspectorates of education as nodes”, he said.

 

KELECHI EWUZIE

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