Stakeholders in the education sector have made clarion calls for inclusive African-centred education reforms in Nigeria in order to achieve the needed equity, excellence and social transformation that is dignifying to the people.
Chizoba Imoka-Ubochioma, director of Unveiling Africa Foundation, and the convener of the ‘Re- Rooting in African History’ (RIAH) education summit themed “African-centred education: A path to equity, excellence and transformation” held recently explained that the event is a long time journey to liberating Nigerians in particular and Africa in general on how they teach their children.
“The summit was conceived in response to the absence of African-centred perceptive, history and ways of knowing how we are educators in the African continent including Nigeria.
This summit is kind of an ice-breaker to what we see as a long time journey towards shifting our education system from its current Eurocentric positioning to a different place where our knowledge system, ways of seeing the world, and our history is centred in how we teach our children,”
In addition, she said: “We are not talking of just history as a subject that children learn but we are saying history is something everybody should know and it has implications for all subjects.
Every subject has a root somewhere, and fortunately, Africa is the cradle of humanity in everything including knowledge systems, but all of this knowledge about who we are, our contribution to the world, and how we do things has been expunged from our education system.”
Imoka-Ubochioma reiterated that the country inherited an education system that is not designed for its people and that it is one of the legacies of the colonial masters.
She urged the government to force all public servants to use local languages as a way of promoting cultural values.
Folawe Omikunle, chief executive officer of Teach for Nigeria (TFN), and a co-convener of the summit said the RIAH event doubles as an alumni summit for TFN graduates.
Omikunle disclosed that there is a great need for citizens to rub their minds and reflect on how to decolonise the education system in the country.
She pointed out the need for Nigerian children to access quality education that dignifies them as human beings, and unlock them to discover their potential by re-rooting them in African history irrespective of their tribe, gender or religion.
And to achieve the re-rooting goal, she maintained that children should be taught in a language they understand in a way that respects their culture and dignifies their persons.
“Language is such an important piece of education, a lot of research has shown the power, impact and effect of having one’s own local language as a mode of instruction in teaching in schools.
Children’s learning outcome is much better when the language of instruction is rooted in the local language they are familiar with.
We need an education system that responds to the needs and desires of Nigerians,” she said.
She maintained that all stakeholders must do what is needed to push back the colonial education system. It is a work that requires a lot of people working together.
“We have to develop an education system for our children that is authentic, that feels familiar to them,” she noted.
She insists that to achieve this, the process must translate to the textbooks, and the way examination umpires such as WAEC, and JAMB, among others set examinations.
She revealed that the summit intends to bring a paradigm shift in Nigerians’ learning culture.
“With this approach, there will be collaboration in the teaching and learning system. It is a systematic thing that requires everybody to do what they need to do,” she said.
Humphrey Geiseb, the Namibia ambassador to Nigeria applauded the summit, even as he frowned at the fact that African education has a systematic problem as a result of being Eurocentric in design.
“We need an Afrocentric education system,” he noted.
Abayomi Abolaji, permanent secretary at Lagos State Ministry of Education described the summit as being timely.
“We hardly find the young generation speaking our local languages. Even if we know where we’re going to, we shouldn’t forget where we’re coming from.
We can begin to shape the values of the young ones by inculcating African values in them through our education system,” he said.
Many stakeholders reaffirmed that there is a need for teachers’ training to equip them to be able to transfer cultural heritages to the younger generations.