By DAYO ADESULU
At a forum in Benin City, Edo State where professors of education from universities across the country sat with lecturers from colleges of education, seasoned teachers from primary and junior secondary schools as well as professionals from the industry to critique the Teachers Guides which the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) is developing in conjunction with curriculum experts, the Executive Secretary of NERDC, Professor Godswill Obioma spoke on the importance of equipping teachers with teaching guides.
He spoke about the innovations brought to the curriculum and how both the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) and the Teachers Guides will help in achieving the human capital development goal, stating how his agency will enhance teachers’ capacity in implementing the curriculum, among other issues. Excerpts:
What is the essence of the critique workshop for the development of Teachers Guides?
Usually, when you develop some manuscript, in order to improve the quality you critique that manuscript from a detached perspective. In other words, if you are the one that wrote the manuscript you will give it to another competent expert in the same profession to evaluate, to assess, to identify areas of weakness and strengthen them, identify gaps and fill them and add up information or knowledge or contact that may have been left out at the writing stage.
So, this particular critique workshop is a process of improving on the manuscript developed at the writing stage. You will recall that not too long ago, we assembled resource persons, experts in various fields with respect to Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) to prepare Teachers Guides in tandem with the curriculum revised. That has been accomplished. So, the next logical stage is this critique workshop is to improve the quality.
Specifically, what are these invited resource persons expected to do with the manuscript of the Teachers Guides?
They are expected to wade through the document; identify the gaps, to ensure that what was written in Lagos the other time is in harmony with the BEC. Remember that the Teachers Guide is being developed to assist teachers in implementing the content of the Teachers Guide and the content of the curriculum and if there is no congruence, then there is a gap. So the resource persons are expected to close any gap they identify and where there is repetition in the content of the guide, they delete them.
For example, unit four of the Teachers Guides present sample lesson plans based on modern teaching approach and those lesson plans were developed from the content of the curriculum and there are steps or stages to be followed in the teaching – learning process. Sometimes the writer of the lesson plan may have omitted one or two steps logically. So the critique experts are expected to identify those omissions and fill them up.
Can we know the pedigree of these resource persons?
We have drawn resources persons from various contexts. Some of them are professors of education in universities, who prepare teachers education for schools, some of them are lecturers in colleges of education who are well experienced, heads of schools, deans of faculties and so on. Some of them are drawn from the industry because there is a link between the industry and the teaching-learning process, for instance, in Vocational Study and Physical and Health Education and Information Technology.
So, we have brought those who practise these professions in the industry. Some of the resource persons are also experienced school teachers those who have, over the years, been teaching these subjects and know where the shoe pinches. Others are policy makers from the various Ministries of Education and those who are expected to supervise what goes on in the school system. Some of them are also from my Council (NERDC) who are curriculum experts, those who are education experts and research experts who will bring to bear their expertise into the critique process. That is how we are composed.
Is the composition of the resource persons based on geostrategic consideration?
In an academic exercise like this, you don’t talk of ethnic balancing. This is what some of us are trying to avoid. In the United States you don’t talk of ethnic balancing so as not to compromise excellence. But I’m sure that in every part of the country, with due respect to ethnic configuration, you can always take experts. Like you said, Nigeria is a huge country. We have not particularly factored in the ethnic configuration in selecting the resource persons but their composition has also satisfied those considerations.
We have resource persons from Kogi State, from the east and from the north. My director of Curriculum Development Centre, Dr. Ismail Junaidu, who is actually one of the facilitators of the workshop, is from Katsina State. But what I’m saying is that we must be very careful not to factor in ethnicity as the basis of selecting experts in Nigeria for anything, not just for this on-going development of Teachers Guides because in a large population, when you make a random sample, if it is properly done, the sample will throw up itself to reflect where people come from. But for us in NERDC and for the particular purpose of this critique exercise, our major consideration is your expertise.
You can see we have a panel on Arabic and there is a Professor of Arabic Language on that panel. There is a panel on mathematics and there is an associate professor of mathematics among those critiquing it. And there is a lady who is a Team Leader who has a Masters degree in Maths Education. The point I’m making is that the selection is not based on ethnic consideration at all. Nigeria being a huge country, if you make your selection carefully, you are going to have a spread. But if you factor in the spread as a basic factor, you will lose excellence.
What is the timeline for completing the development of the Teachers Guides?
We have a timeline. Our target is t o ensure that the Teachers Guide is completed in terms of production by end of December, 2012. We will soon do the editorial and then we will get publishers to produce them and usually it takes them about a month to do that.