By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
DELIBERATIONS among delegates from all the states of the federation, who attended the just concluded convocation of Network of Educational Services Centres in Nigeria (NESCN) and the resuscitated National Festival of Instructional Materials (NAFIM) at Abuja, centred around the entrenchment of best practices in standards and quality assurance, which is one of the focal points of the Roadmap for Nigerian education sector.
Although participants, both from Federal and state levels, were expected to be guided by the convocationâ€™s theme: â€œCreating and Promoting Instructional Materials from Local Resources for Sustainable Development,â€ their deliberations specifically focused on curriculum relevance and adaptation, quality school texts and instructional materials, enhancement of teacher and teaching capacity, effective supervision, monitoring and inspection as well as the need for quality continuous assessment.
While NESCN provides the platform for Education Resource Centres, State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) and other educational entities to exchange ideas and experiences, NAFIM provides opportunity for Federal and state entities to showcase their best practices in making classroom instructional materials.
Both NESCN and NAFIM are jointly organised by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), beginning from this year.
Thus, the Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof Godswill Obioma, who is also the chairman of NESCN, had earlier explained the purpose and the direction of the three-ay event (8th-10th Dec. 2009).
According to him, the theme of the event was chosen to promote and encourage the creative initiative among teachers and other stakeholders in making classroom instructional materials from local resources.
Obioma further said: â€œIn order to continue to be relevant in the on-going educational reform, NESCN should play significant roles in the active implementation of the Roadmap. It is my belief that these roles can optimally be played out in the Roadmapâ€™s focal point of standards and quality assurance.
NERDC will continue to provide the required leadership in coordinating NESCN which of course is one of her statutory responsibilities.
NERDC will also assume more active role in the years to come in assisting and guiding members of NESCN in carrying out their statutory mandates in the context of Roadmap and other contexts that members will request.â€
He informed the large gathering of stakeholders at the convocation that NERDC has taken some concrete steps to drive the curriculum implementation such as preparation of Teachers Handbook on curriculum implementation, preparation of Teachers Handbook for development of instructional materials from local resources, preparation of Teachers Handbook for selection and use of instructional materials, preparation of manual for the development and utilization of instructional materials from local resources, amongst others, adding that NERDC will provide a National Guide for preparing syllabi, unit and lesson plans.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, who declared the convocation open, spoke in the same vein. Represented at the epoch-making event by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Prof Oladapo Afolabi.
Egwu stressed the importance of this yearâ€™s convocation which marks the reactivation of NAFIM, explaining that it will not only add value to education quality, but also galvanize and motivate teachers to preparing classroom instructional materials adding that this yearâ€™s NESCN theme and the ideals of NAFIM are appropriately located within the focal point of standards and quality assurances of the Roadmap.â€
The Education Minister stressed the need for the establishment of Education Resource Centres in all the states of the federation and the FCT, explaining that ERCs are established for effective and efficient management of educational resources for educational development and implementation of educational policies.
He was full of commendation for NERDC for implementing the 2008 directive of the National Council of Education by resuscitating NAFIM as well as its sustenance of the annual convocation of NESCN in the last five years.
Thereafter, dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony of the event went round the exhibition stands through which schools from different states of the federation and FCT displayed their ingenuity in producing instructional materials made from local resources.
At the exhibition stand of Oyo State, models for teaching geography were on display such as mountains type which lead to the formation of topographic contours made with disuse newspapers.
Various reptiles, plantain, fish, corn, tortoise and various food items and the local fashion of Abacus for teaching mathematics were also found at Imo State stand while students of Government Secondary School, Gwarinpa, FCT came up with a multipurpose drier which is for drying and preservation of agricultural products. It is powered by both electricity and solar energy. The stands of other states also had good exhibitions.
After a thorough assessment of the instructional materials exhibited by all the states and FCT, Ondo State came first, Imo State clinched the secondÂ position while Oyo State came third, with a cash prize of N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Two resource persons lectured participants on selection and utilization of instructional resources for effective teaching, painstakingly explaining various ways of sourcing instructional materials and the need for versatility and resourcefulness on the part of teachers in creating instructional materials from local sources.
Apart from the exposition of participants to these stimulating lectures, the convocation was activity-based, with a focus on building the capacity of participants.
For instance, they were divided into zonal groups to assess and evaluate the level of implementation of the 2009-2011 strategy plan of action as well as to upgrade it.
At the end of serious brainstorming by participants from the six geo-political zones, important suggestions that will have far-reaching impact on the nationâ€™s education system were thrown up.
Some of their suggestions include the need to adopt due process in procurement of instructional material, updating texts in line with the curriculum, provision of mobile instructional materials/kits, procurement of gender sensitive materials, the need for UBEC to fund ERCs training workshop, selection of child friendly instructional materials and organization of workshops for selection of instructional materials.
The participants also pushed for active involvement of NGOs in the provision of instructional materials, the establishment of ERCs by states that presently do not have, establishment of wide area network to enable ERCs to network with one another as well as the provision of ICT facilities at ERCs.
Given the role which Education Resource Centres are expected to play in the efficient management of educational resources, a motion was moved by the participants that NERDC should prepare a memorandum to the next NCE meeting for the establishment of a well funded ERCs by state governments and that the need to stress the importance of the establishment of functional ERCs should be part of advocacy of NERDC.