By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Operatives of the nationâ€™s education system at the federal and state levels as well as stakeholders from all parts of the country gave approval to a number of initiatives that are critical to effective education delivery during the 56th National Council on Education (NCE) summit which held in Abuja last week.
One of the major issues that took the centre stage during the week-long brainstorming is the efforts of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council at ensuring the delivery of qualitative and functional education in schools through its curriculum development activities.
Listed among the memoranda to council is the one on the development of 34 Senior Secondary School Trades curricula by NERDC which highlights the basic features of the new entrepreneurial trades curricula as they relate to the approved new Senior Secondary Education (SSE) curriculum in the fields of science, humanities, technology and business.
Specific mention was also made of the successful completion of the revision of 42 subjects that were approved for SSE, with relevant stakeholders involved at every phase ofÂ Â the curriculum review process which led to the approval of the exercise by the NCE.
The NCE meeting, which is the highest policy making body on education, also gave approval to the NERDCâ€™s draft of Ebira Language Curriculum for use at the basic education level. The curriculum was developed by NERDC in collaboration with Kogi State government.
While presenting to the NCE session the report on the special assignments given to NERDC by the august body last year, the Executive Secretary of the nationâ€™s major curriculum developer, Prof. Godswill Obioma revealed that his council has gone far on the study of the relative performance of students who gained entry into Nigerian Universities with certificates obtained in one or two sittings at WASSC and NECO/SSC examinations.
He explained that the wide scope of the study and the limited time for its actualisation informed its segmentation into fiveÂ distinct phases, adding that his council has completed the first three phases of the project and is presently in the field collecting data for the study.
On the study of psychometric qualities of public examinations in Nigeria, the NERDC boss, who has just been re-appointed for a second term of five years, said that his team has developed the research instruments and is presently finalizing the development of a training guide for field research assistants, explaining that his council plans to embark on the remaining phases of the study in due course.
The Professor of Mathematics Education and Evaluation also informed the NCE that NERDC in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) has developed a draft for Road Safety Education Curriculum for basic education, reiterating that the curriculum is to be infused into relevant carrier basic education subjects.
The NCE was also briefed by Prof Obioma on the NERDCâ€™s efforts at ensuring an effective implementation of the new 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum.
According to him, the council has developed a set of instruments for monitoring the implementation of the curriculum in schools, adding that the monitoring exercise would involve focal group discussions with commissioners of education in the 36 states and FCT, SUBEB chairpersons, UBEC officials, relevant directors of State Ministries of Education and State Universal Basic Education Boards, proprietors of schools and so forth. Others include observation of classroom interractions and interview of pupils and students.
The memorandum on restoration of Junior Secondary School (JSS) component in Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs) is yet another salient issue that came up for discussion, with the council giving approval to the re-introduction of the JSS component into the FUCs throughout the country. The placement of candidates into JS1 class of FUCs through the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) to be conducted by NECO also got the NCEâ€™s nod.
The integration of the JSS arm with the SSS component of the FUCs was justified by the fact that these colleges, in spite of the numerous challenges that bedevil them are the only hope for the children of ordinary Nigerians to obtain some quality and affordable secondary education as well as being the only veritable avenue for integration and unification in the country, apart from the NYSC scheme.
Also, these colleges are considered as one of the collective heritages of the nation that is still subsisting.
The report of the ministerial committee on the harmonisation of Basic Education Certificate Examination BECE was also tabled before the NCE. The need for BECE was upheld on the strength that it is a terminal assessment which will require a centralized examination so as to ensure its national recognition by all states as well as its acceptance internationally.
Equally important is the resolution of the Federal Ministry of Education to impose sanctions in the form of re-deployment, demotion or outright dismissal from the service on principals and teachers of any of the Federal Unity Colleges where 50% of the candidates presented for WASCE/SSCE fail to obtain minimum of five credits including English and Mathematics.
Similarly, council directed the National Universities Commission to sanction universities that charged more than one thousand naira for the Post-UME screening processing fees and those that delayed the release of Post-UME results just as the National Mathematic Centre was directed to embark on activities that would make Further Mathematics friendlier to science students and their teachers.
All principals of technical and vocational colleges were also directed to adhere to the provisionsÂ of the guidelines for the establishment and operation of production units in technical colleges.
Guided by the summitâ€™sÂ theme, â€œPublic Private Partnership: Implications for Effective Education Delivery,â€ delegates emphasised the imperative of active participation of the private sector in theÂ development of education, reiterating that this has become more urgent going by the ever increasing demand for educational services by Nigerians.
Specifically, the NCE approve that states, FCT and LGAs in collaboration with private partners should establish and equip skill acquisition workshops for self-reliant activities.
Also approved is the initiation of a draft bill on anti-cultism legislation to be forwarded by FME to the National Assembly through the Federal Executive Council, and that states andÂ FCT shouldÂ adopt the quality assurance instrument for basic and secondary education in Nigeria.
The council also decided that Drug Abuse Preventive Education Curriculum should be infusedÂ intoÂ relevant subjects in technical colleges, that states Ministries of Education should conduct advocacy and sensitization programmes to improve female participation in science and technology and the draft national policy on ICT in education also got the NCEâ€™s approval.