60 years of promises, political inconsistency in Nigerian education system – Articles – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Despite great educational potential over the past 60 years, the course of education policies and their implementation has been tumultuous and distorted, writes the head of the education bureau, IYABO LAWAL.

From being promising, the nation’s education system has become an eyesore, twisted and tumultuous. Since 1960, the country has explored various approaches, with almost every step appearing to be a misstep.

Before 1960, its education system was modeled on that of the British: six years of primary education, five years of secondary education and two years of higher or A-Levels. There have been resounding successes in terms of inputs and outputs. A few years after independence, the system changed.

In 1983, the education system was updated to the 6-3-3-4 system (six years in primary, three years in middle school, three years in high school and four [not in all cases] years in higher institutions), similar to the American system. A decade later, precisely in 1993, the federal government developed and adopted the first national education policy. This signaled the genesis of changes and modifications at various levels of the system.

In the north of the country, the Koranic school system, with its problems of lack of accountability, continued to thrive and operate alongside the national education system. Even though Universal Primary Education (UPE) has made primary education free and universal, few or no attempts have been made to make it compulsory for all children.

The national education policy was revised again in 1998 and 2004 to “make it suited to the development needs of the country”, particularly in the north.

Experts noted that since education is an agent of cultural transmission as well as of change, Nigeria’s revisions of its education policy should reflect the “dynamic nation-building process which is continually being altered by new conditions”.

The 1998 education policy introduced the Universal Basic Education (UBE) curriculum, prescribing nine years of continuing education (six years in primary school and three years in college) designed to eradicate illiteracy and provide opportunities of equal learning. The policy was not applied.

Not having finished inventing and reinventing policies in the education sector, the current administration has proposed “Education for change: a ministerial strategic plan (2015-2019)”.

The document deals with the issue of out-of-school children, basic education, teacher training, adult literacy, programs and policies concerning basic and secondary education, technical education and professional, educational data planning, library services, information and communication technologies. , and higher education.

In the document, the federal government proposed strategies for engaging with state governments to address the issues of out-of-school children. It also planned to increase the national net enrollment rate (NET) by enrolling 2,875,000 students per year for the next four years, as well as renovating schools destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents and building 71,874 classrooms. additional each year.

But education officials and stakeholders, in their separate assessments of the sector over the past 60 years, have said the sector has worsened and would need an overhaul to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Director, Center for Advanced and Professional International Studies (CIAPS), Prof. Anthony Kila; former Vice Chanellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye (OOU), Prof Olusoga Sofola; Seasoned scholar Prof Sheriffdeen Tella and University of Chrisland Pro-Chancellor Prof Ayodeji Olukoju said education over the past 60 years is a reflection of the state of the country, which started well but is now going very badly.

TEACHER. Kila said the sector could be measured by the deplorable state of school infrastructure, the low teacher happiness index, the poor quality of young people leaving school and a high percentage of parents sending their children to private and overseas schools. .

“Sixty years ago many came to study in Nigeria, but today most study in the country simply because they cannot afford to go elsewhere.

He identified major challenges such as the inability of leaders to see the link between education, law and order and process, and low budget allocations to the sector by successive governments.

Regarding the different education policies of successive administrations, Kila said this indicates that the “real” stakeholders are not involved in policy making.

To improve the country’s education system, the director of CIAPS said the government and its people must first admit that there are problems in the sector and then declare a state of emergency to address them.

“There is a need to increase budget allocations at all levels, to turn all educational colleges into postgraduate schools so that only postgraduates can teach. We need to double teachers’ salaries and add other extras to attract and retain the best and brightest in education, ”added Professor Kila.

FORMER Vice-Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Professor Soga Sofola, said in the 1960s that the country’s education system was functional and high-quality in all three regions. There were good teachers and they were kept on their toes by education inspectors who checked teachers’ course notes for the adequacy of instructions, while the higher education system was on par with what was happening. in advanced societies.

The high schools were also qualitative with a baccalaureate in five years and two years of higher education (A level), then three years of university, five for medicine. Later, in the late 1960s, a preliminary university (now 100 level) was established and A-levels were gradually withdrawn from public secondary schools.

This development, he said, has contributed to the decline in the quality of university admission due to increased access to admission, and has also led to the proliferation of universities.

According to him, these incidents had an impact on the quality of graduates produced, which led employers to document the problem of graduates’ unfitness for employment.

He lamented that the intervention of the National Universities Commission (NUC) through the introduction of “studies on entrepreneurship” as a compulsory component of general studies could not achieve the desired result.

Professor Sofola also identified the inability of university programs to catch up with modern trends as one of the challenges facing the sector.

To solve the problems of the sector, Prof. Sofola called for the overhaul of the university system to increase quality; increased funding; sponsor doctoral students with scholarships and stipends; increased funding by the TETFund for research, preferably in dollars, as well as automatic employment for first-class graduates.

“In doing so, the system must have a reward system, where all teachers do not earn the same salary. The ability to attract research grants should include higher personnel costs for the researcher to be comfortable, better focused, and attract bright students / staff to their research group. “

In addition, he said universities should be able to assess faculty on the quality of teaching through student questionnaires and use it for promotion, while the working environment should be improved.
For his part, Professor Sheriffdeen Tella said education models have always produced first-class citizens if properly funded and implemented.

Tella lamented that underfunding has rendered educational policies, especially the 6-3-3-4 system, non-functional, especially the science and technology section.

“Under-funding, especially from state governments which in most cases have not provided matching funds, remains the biggest problem, as it invariably affects the learning environment, teaching quality and outcomes (low quality graduates at all levels) and encourages dropouts, among others.

He added that a steady decline in education tax allocations at different levels, coupled with an increase in corruption cases, plays a major role in the underdevelopment of the sector.

PROF Olukoju noted that despite the disruption caused by the civil war and prolonged military rule, the education system until the 1980s was characterized by maintaining relatively high standards, including the high quality of staff and students at the primary, secondary and higher levels.

“The low enrollment rate, particularly in the northern states of Nigeria, has required positive action through a system of admission quotas to federal colleges and higher education institutions, put in place by the government to promote national unity.

“An immediate consequence of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) was the precipitous collapse in the value of the naira, which was accompanied by underfunding of education at all levels. Teacher morale has fallen and over time there has been less emphasis on quality although massification has taken place without adequate funding, provision of teachers and adequate infrastructure.

He added: “There was constant decay of school buildings, obsolescence of laboratories and libraries, neglect of teacher training, although the National Certificate of Education (NCE) became the minimum qualification for teachers. teachers. This encouraged a fixation on the mere possession of certificates without content or quality. “

Professor Olukoju listed the challenges of the education system as inadequate funding; embezzlement and financial corruption; ICT gaps; high teacher / student ratio; poor quality control; low morale and motivation of teachers; as well as the low standards of public schools.

To solve the problems, the eminent professor probed an increase in budget allocation, monitoring of disbursements and project execution, investment in the electronic library; Internet bandwidth, online education facilities, train more teachers and subject them to basic skills retraining and online / distance learning management.

Regarding the different education policies, in particular the 6-3-3-4 and 9-3-4 systems, the former vice-chancellor said that there is a gap between the design and the practical realities of its implementation. , due to corruption, poor performance and lack of sincerity.

To reposition the sector for 21st century realities, Olukoju said there should be regular program and performance reviews, and a national platform to compare experiences within and between regions and states.

One thing experts have agreed on is that Nigeria’s 60 years of tinkering with its education system has not worked out in large part due to half-hearted policy implementation.

Janice G. Ball