BY AMAKA ABAYOMI & LAJU ARENYEKA
Two good heads are better than one. This popular adage buttresses the fact that a conglomeration of truly intellectual minds is sure to bring about more results than the idea of one single individual.
With the challenges the education sector has faced in recent times, it is no wonder that many stakeholders are supporting the decision by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to host an education summit this year.
The National Treasurer, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Demola Aremu said: “There have been so many challenges in the education sector and a lot of them stem from a faulty foundation of policy making. Our leaders tend to jump from one policy to another without bothering about implementation.
“To formulate enduring policies, we believe that it is necessary to involve all players in the sector. That is why ASUU is championing an education summit. So that all the stakeholders from the all the different levels of the sector-primary, secondary, colleges of education, polytechnics, universities, government etc can come together and chart a course for the sector.
“The previous ones the government has held in the past have just been a jamboree; making policies out of guess work. But we need to move beyond that.”
Vanguard Learning sampled the thoughts of concerned stakeholder in the sector concerning the summit.
Charging the promoters of the summit to ensure that the summit comes up with practical steps to forge a linkage between private sector brains and university faculties especially through multimedia projects, an education policy consultant, Mr. Wale Samuel, said this is one of the secrets of European and Asian economies.
“This partnership would enhance students’ dexterity in research”, Samuel said.
For a parent, Mr. Mike Chigbu, whose daughter ought to have been doing her youth service but for the prolonged ASUU strike, said the summit is a welcome development, especially if it would put an end to the rot and incessant strikes always embarked upon by lecturers in institutions of higher learning.
“The summit is long overdue as it would address and provide meaningful solutions to the challenges bedevilng the education sector. But the isssue is hope the recommendations would not go the way of all things Nigeria where government would not bother to implement the agreements reached.”
In agreement is another educationist, Bala Dauda, urged government to ensure that the recommendations of the summit are strictly implemented so as to move the sector forward.
“The idea of the education summit couldn’t have come at a better time but we need to ask ourselves what would be the essence of the summit if the recommendations are not implemented because it would be a waste of time and resources to organise a summit of such magnitude and not adhere to the recommendations.”
The National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign, ERC, Mr. Hassan Soweto, also lauded the proposed ASUU initiative as a ‘good idea’ saying that the ERC has been calling for such since 2009.
Continuing, Soweto said: “ASUU has been the vanguard union in the fight for the revitalization of the education sector, and it is no surprise that it is taking the lead in organizing this much needed summit.
“We believe that the Government has failed woefully in the area of making the right policies for the education sector. It is stakeholders such as teachers, students and parents that have been at the receiving end of such failed policies.
“We hope that the summit will bring together all unions and civic societies in the sector, lay a basis for unity for all unions in the sector; redress the government’s commercialization of the education system, and postulate a comprehensive charter of demands that would be accepted by all the unions which will in turn be tabled before the government.
“We also hope that stakeholders would be able to work out a programme of action that will lead to a sustainable campaign for better funding of education and democratic management of public schools.”
ASUU is yet to set a date for the summit, but stakeholders anticipate that it should be before the third quarter of this year. Whether or not the summit will have its desired impact on the ailing education sector, only time will tell.