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Experts blame teaching quality, funding for decline in education sector

Experts have given reasons for the second consecutive negative growth recorded in the education sector in 2021 despite recovery efforts geared towards improving the sector after the Covid-19 pandemic setbacks.

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the education sector came out of recession in the second quarter of 2021, after contracting for 5 consecutive quarters since Q2 2020.

However, the sector recorded a contraction of 0.75 percent in 2021 compared to a contraction of 13.57 percent in 2020. The education sector recorded second consecutive negative growth in 2021.

Ijeoma Ireh, an education consultant with the British Council, and senior English facilitator of African Thinkers’ College of Education, Oyigbo in Rivers State, attributes the downward trend of Nigeria’s education sector to the insincerity on the part of governments.

“Basically, the problems are poor funding and by extension poor teachers’ salary and the methodology of teaching.

“Nigerians are still not ready to tell themselves the truth. The education policymakers and implementers know the right things to do but have refused to do them,” she said.

Ireh described the curriculum in Nigeria as still upside-down. The methodology, she says, is such that a teacher gets to a class and stands to teach and at the end gives assignments to students. Instead of giving the students assignment that will spur them to research before teaching.

Most times these assignments are done by someone else; this is especially seen in private schools. The end result is that we produce students with high marks but with low practical knowledge of the subjects.

Read also: Attacks on schools put quality education, skilled labour at risk

Ireh disclosed that research helps students to learn more and to endeavour to know what the subject is all about. Besides, it helps learners to know what the teacher knows.

She advocates for the andragogy system of learning rather than the pedagogic approach being used in Nigeria.

Andragogy is a theory developed by Malcolm Knowles that is based on a self-directed, independent learning method for adults. This theory asserts that learning programs must support the notion that adults are self-driven and take responsibility for decisions. This contrasts with pedagogy, which is the understanding of the science and practice of children learning.

For Elizabeth Ohaka, an early childhood educationist, the problem is that the value for education is low in Nigeria; many people do not see education as an avenue to surmount their economic challenges.

Ohaka regrets the fact that the government is not investing in the education sector, and even what is on the ground is not being properly monitored.

She, however, believes that the curriculum used in the country is okay but argues that the monitoring approach is poor.

“A lot of improvement has been recorded in our curriculum. The curriculum is okay, but implementation is the problem. Many teachers are leaving the sector simply because of the poor payment scheme. Teachers’ salary and welfare in Nigeria is very poor,” Ohaka noted.

Matthew Adediran, a teacher in a similar view with Ireh highlighted outdated-school curriculum, poor funding, poor teachers’ incentives, lack of supervision, and corrupt administration as reasons for the decline.

However, on the contrary note, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a new salary scale for teachers and increased the retirement age from 60 to 65 years, with effect from January 2022. But how well this is being implemented is yet known.

Despite the repeated calls on the government to increase its budgetary allocation to education, the sector got 5.6 percent of the 2021 budget, the lowest percentage allocation since 2011.

While the recovery process continued in the primary and secondary school levels with various initiatives by the government and the private sector to assist the students, sadly, some students are still been left behind. They could not return to school due to increasing insecurity in schools. Most schools were shut as the kidnap of students and teachers persisted.

The lockdown and insecurity also led to an increase in out-of-school children in the country. UNICEF said the number has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.

The concerns and campaign against bullying in secondary schools were heightened in the outgoing year.

Meanwhile, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) announced an unprecedented success rate in its May/June 2021 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).

According to a statement from the council, 1,274,784 candidates, representing 81.7 percent of the 1,560,261 candidates that sat the examination, a secured credit pass in five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

The reverse was the case for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), as the examination body stated that candidates’ performance in this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) was poorer than what it recorded in the past three years.

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