The outbreak of coronavirus has exposed the underbelly of Nigeria’s education system and further questioned the readiness of the sector to compete on the global scale.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy urgently needs to address both the issue of content and context in her education ecosystem to be relevant and globally competitive post-Covid-19.
In the last four months, all indices show the sector to be one of the biggest losers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 forced the government to enact a total closure and disruption of academic activities across the country.
Panellists at a national discourse webinar organised by Re-ignite public affairs in partnership with BusinessDay observed that decades of government underfunding of education, poor teacher quality have left the sector with products whose certificates are increasingly worthless.
The panellists comprising of educationists, technologists, government educational policy designers and financial experts while speaking on the topic Nigeria @60 Education: navigating a new normal observed that COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the crisis within Nigeria’s education sector as governments and educational institutions including stakeholders struggle to adjust to a new normal in the face of uncertainties.
The webinar was moderated by Modupe Adefeso-Olateju, an education policy expert specialising in public-private partnerships in education. Who is also the managing director, The Education Partnership Centre (TEP Centre)
Julius Ihonvbere, chairman, house committee on basic education while speaking at the programme said for Nigeria to overcome the various challenges around an education system that is thoroughly dislocated, broken, heavily contaminated, the nation has to generate a whole new conversation about responsibility, discipline, accountability and respect for the prioritization of the sector.
To tackle the challenge of content and context, Ihonvbere insists there needs to be a synergy among managers of the economy to focus the conversation around giving education the priority it deserves.
He further noted there are over 20 bills on education, but only few of these bills get through to the executive adding that a whole new perspective is necessary for the relationship between governance and the people for the education sector to thrive.
“One of the things that have come out of this current situation with Covid-19 is that the response capacity and the adjustment capacity of the education system is so weak and nonexistence across all levels”.
“Covid-19 has provided the country with a good opportunity to rethink. It is not too late, it is not impossible, but there has to be commitment, leadership and resources,” Ihonvbere said.
Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, minister of state for education in his remarks stated that the challenges in the education ecosystem should be the concern of all stakeholders and not necessarily the government alone.
Nwajiuba announced that the Federal Government is working on a lot of public-private partnerships to facilitate a fresh injection of capital into the sector, adding that government alone cannot provide all the resources needed to address the education challenges.
Commenting of school resumption, the minister reiterated that there are no new regulations in place other than the precautionary safety measures already outlined by the presidential task force on Covid-19.