BY AMAKA ABAYOMI & LAJU ARENYEKA
Stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector have said that government’s inability to alleviate the fundamental challenges in the sector is responsible for the poor performance of students in the qualifying examinations organised by the National Examinations Council (NECO) and the West African Examination Council.
Leading this call was the WAEC Chairman, Professor Pai Obanya, who was the lead discussant at a forum for stakeholders in Lagos last weekend.
At the forum, themed: Education: Building Viable Frameworks for Sustainability, Obanya insisted that, “there should be an assessment of the education sector as a whole as a way of ensuring appropriate policies, programmes and processes. Examination failure is a surface manifestation of system failure, this is why constant system assessment is paramount.”
According to the don, it requires good politics to have good education, because good politics would provide good policies, which would result in good programmes and in turn compel good processes.
Continuing, he said: “Strategic planning means indepth – not cause – analysis to address the challenges from their very roots. There must also be situational analysis, policy planning, action planning and an in-built monitoring and evaluation framework.”
Stressing that quality is about inputs and processes, Obanya lamented that social recognition for teachers and professional support for them are lacking.
“Yet, education is about producing the human-ware that will produce the hardware and the software,” he added. The WAEC boss declared communal involvement in education as another imperative for the revival of the sector.
In his words: “The popular term: Public-Private Partnership (PPP) must now be ‘Public-Private-Community Partnership as far as the education sector is concerned. Until this is done, we will keep talking grammar.”
Also speaking at the forum organised by ThistlePraxis Consulting, a Professor of Counselling and Psychology, University of Lagos, Professor Ngozi Osarenren, said continuous development of teachers is very critical.
Teachers, she stressed, must be aware of updates in the sector, especially as it affects teaching. They must be aware of new teaching methods and provided with teaching materials, she advised. Osarenren declared that 95 per cent of teachers in public schools do not have the syllabus.
“How can a teacher be teaching without copies of recommended textbooks?” she asked. She also challenged the Organised Private Sector to begin to show interest in teachers and the teaching profession, even as she commended Etisalat Telecommunications firm for sponsoring the event.
For the Chief Academic Officer, Kepler University, Kigali, Rwanda, Chrystina Russell, no efforts should be spared in support of education because of its impact on employment and productivity.
The Lagos State Team Leader of Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), Mr Olabode Oyeneye, said that a shift of focus from certification to functionality is an imperative in the quest for viable frameworks for sustainability in education.
In his words: “Certification has been so much glorified to the detriment of ability, capability and performance.”
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), West Africa Vocational Education, Misan Rewane, canvassed some measures to boost education.
According to Rewane: “Can we use idle pension funds to train and empower students if they will come back to teach? Because access to education is key, can we have students’ financing models? Can we leverage on technology to provide more education opportunities? And how do we encourage entrepreneurs to do what government is not doing?”
Earlier in the forum, ThistlePraxis’ CEO, Mrs Ini Onuk, in her welcome address, said the organisation’s latest initiative was targeted at feasible and workable solutions to meet the nation’s educational needs. “The Millennium Development Goals are due in 2015. So, how can we fastrack our progress in this critical sector? This is part of our concerns,” Onuk said inter-alia.