BY NDIDI UCHE
Six oil-producing states have reiterated commitment to improving quality of education in their region, the Director-General of the BRACED Commission, Ambassador Joe Keshi, has said. He noted that BRACED, is an acronym for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states.
The education summit for the six states is expected to commence its maiden edition in Port Harcourt, Rivers State from November 15 – 17, 2012.
Keshi said, “The summit among other things is expected to review the state of education in the region through encouraging exchange of new thinking, new ideas and innovations with the ultimate goal of improving and strengthening education among the people, adding, With quality education, the BRACED states can engineer the right social transformation among themselves, ensure steady growth and development and contribute effectively to Nigeria’s economic growth and stability.”
The Director General, disclosed that with such initiative, the summit will provide for the six BRACED states opportunity to address the state of education in the region with a view to fashioning out different ways to improve the quality of education, learning environment and over all well being of the various stakeholders in the education process especially the teachers and the students.
According to him, since the rebirth of democracy in 1999, there has been significant improvement in education infrastructure and processes in the BRACED states with some states not only building new standard classrooms but also giving scholarship incentives to students and pupils as well as improved remunerations to teachers.
Keshi who pointed out that the summit is coming at a time when there is general drop in the standard of education in the country, noted that the South-south which comparatively is among the regions with a superior record in the pursuit of education excellence in the country is spearheading an education summit which would focus mainly on how to improve standard.
He added, “The summit, is to remedy the damage done to education in the region as evidenced in its poor performance in WAEC, JAMB and NECO exams as well as the poor intellectual content of graduates of tertiary institutions in the region.”
He, however noted that although the falling standard of education is not peculiar to the BRACED states, governors of the states are desirous of given quality of education at all levels with a view of turning the region into a sought-after-knowledge resort on the continent. He regretted the situation whereby Nigerian parents and guardians have to send their wards to schools in neighbouring African countries.
His words: “The summit would help the governors, school administrators and other stakeholders to compare notes and seek ways of breathing fresh life to this all-important knowledge sector. The conference will therefore review the state of basic, secondary and technical vocational education, higher education, teachers’ education and training of teachers, in addition to reviewing the standard of science and technology education.
Those expected to attend the summit include; The governors of the BRACED states, the ministers of Education, Science and Technology; commissioners of education of the BRACED states and their permanent secretaries, Vice-Chancellors of all the universities in the region, Rectors of Colleges of Education and polytechnics, Deans of Faculties of Education of universities in the BRACED states, Principals of colleges and Headmasters of primary schools, Teachers Associations, Chairmen of States Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEC), faith-based educational organisations, NGOs in the education sub-sector as well as donors agencies.
Part of the envisaged outcomes of the summit would include: Producing a common education policy/initiative for the BRACED states; regional science and technology policy; improve and strengthen the content of basic education; reach an agreement to revive and encourage technical and vocational education by transforming the curriculum of technical and vocational schools to foster efficient applications of technology; development of Professional Teaching Competencies/Standards for Pre and in-service teachers in the BRACED states; joint establishment of monitoring criteria for certification and re-certification, including induction and mentoring programmes for teachers.
Others are provision of opportunities for teachers to up-date their subject matter knowledge and pedagogical skills; to encourage continued education infrastructural development and provision of education instructional materials; and enhancement of creativity and innovation through the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to meet the challenges of the 21st century.