By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The new Senior Secondary School Education Curriculum (SSEC) whose implementation is to commence from September 2011 has thrown up a big challenge to teacher educators in the nationâ€™s Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities as they have to review their teacher preparation programmes in the context of knowledge of subject matter, teaching skills and competencies.
This is necessary for them to be able to produce secondary school teachers who can effectively teach the new subjects introduced in the SSEC.
In specific terms, the updating of teacher education programme is more felt in preparing teachers to teach Civic Education, Computer Studies/ICT and the 34 Trade/Entrepreneurship subjects like GSM maintenance, photography, cosmetology, tourism and other new subjects which are not presently part of the subject matter of teacher education.
The need to address this gap led to the roundtable dialogue organised by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC, in Abuja on Monday this week. It was an event attended by deans of Faculties of Education from many universities in the country, rectors of polytechnics, provosts of colleges of education as well as principal officers of these institutions.
In attendance at the opening ceremony of the epoch-making event are the newly appointed Minister of Education, Prof (Mrs) Ruqayyatu Rufaâ€™i; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Prof Oladapo Afolabi and his Technical Adviser, Prof Duro Ajeyalemi, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof Julius Okogie; top officials of the ministry as well as management of NERDC, the parastatal that developed the Senior Secondary School Curriculum.
The Education Minster, in her address, explained the rationale for the roundtable. Her words: â€œThe restructuring of the old curriculum for the Senior Secondary Schools was based on global acceptable best practices. However, this has thrown up new content standards within each subject matter. The restructured SSEC demands that serving teachers are re-skilled in subject matter has well as in pedagogy. Similarly, pre-service teachers will certainly need to acquire the teaching experiences compliant with the new SSEC.â€
She commended NERDC for organising the roundtable which, according to her, has initiated the preliminary process of reviewing the teacher education programmes of tertiary institutions in line with the new curricula, adding that if these programmes are not restructured it will be difficult to produce teachers with the required skills and competencies to cope with the challenges of the new SSEC.
Calling on all relevant regulatory agencies of the tertiary education sector as well as the tertiary institutions to immediately commence the process of the review, Rufaâ€™i urge the extension of programme restructuring to other disciplines in tertiary institutions.
The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof Godwill Obioma, whose speech was essentially meant to move the teacher educators present at the roundtable to action, spelt out the underlying philosophy of the new curriculum. He said:
â€œThe new SSEC structure is to ensure that every senior secondary school graduate is well prepared for higher education, and has acquired relevant functional trade/entrepreneurship skills needed for poverty eradication, job creation and wealth generation; and in the process strengthen further the foundations for ethical, moral and civic values acquired at the basic educational level.â€
The professor of Mathematics and Evaluation continues: â€œIn programme specific contexts, the extant teacher education programmes geared toward the production of pre-service teachers for the SSE level can no longer meet the challenges and demands of the new SSEC. Thus, there is the need to urgently overhaul the existing teacher education programmes; redefine the context and concepts in term of philosophy, subject combination, mode of training, length of training and structure of training; renew the pedagogical offerings, update the general standards in the teaching of subject matter and introduce new knowledge and subject matter.â€
Then, the brainstorming of participants, who broke into three groups of Universities, Polytechnics and College of Education, commenced after the NERDC boss drummed it into their ears that they are to come up with a common blue-print for new teacher education programmes.
However, the participants, apart from drawing implications for the review of the programmes also came up with brilliant ideas of implementing the curriculum.
The polytechnic group, for instance, stressed the need to lay emphasis on sourcing materials locally for subjects like printing and decoration, practical teaching of computer studies and the need for the polytechnic sector to produce teachers in garment making, auto making, GSM repair, screen printing and entrepreneurship. The group also offeredÂ the suggestion of devoting more resources to the trainings of teachers.
The Colleges of Education group advocates for the need to lay emphasis on guidance and counselling so that NCE teachers in primary and Junior Secondary Schools will be in a better position to counsel their pupils and students. It also said that schools should teach only the Trade subjects which they have teachers for, adding that aggressive training of teachers is very important. Government says, the group, must commit enough funds to put in place laboratories and workshops.
The universities group also canvassed for the use of practical method in teaching subject like Physical Education and that Social Studies should be taught as a subject in Senior Secondary School.
However, it was unanimously agreed that teachers in technical secondary schools should concentrate on teaching technical and allied subject, business oriented schools to focus on teaching business related subjects while universities should inculcate in students the spirit of self-reliance since entrepreneurial studies is now compulsory as a course for all undergraduate students.
The National Council on Education had, at its 54th meeting which held in Abuja early this year, approved the new SSEC comprising of 42 subjects and 34 Trade and Entrepreneurship subjects. The SSEC structure was craffed by NERDC as a paradigm shift in content standards and pedagogical skills to meet both challenges of local needs and global competitiveness.
Specifically, it provides for four fields of study including Science and Mathematics, Humanities, Technology and Business Studies. For the purpose of meeting the minimum requirements for public examinations such as WAEC, NECO and NABTEB, candidates are to take five compulsory cross-cutting subjects of General Mathematics, English language,Â Civic Education, Computer Studies/ICT and Trade/Entrepreneurship.
In addition to these compulsory subjects, candidates are to select three to four subjects from a field of study, depending on their potential and they are also expected to select one Trade/Entrepreneurship subject.
They may choose one elective subject from any other field of study other than that of their potential interest or from the group of Trade subjects, provided the total subjects is not less than eight and do not exceed nine.