By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
No country is likely to go far beyond the threshold of development, unless it ensures that most of its people receives a good basic education. And reaching the threshold for substained development requires that the majority of the population completeÂ primary education of good quality.
These assertions came from Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, the Oyo State Commissioner of Education while speaking on â€˜Challenges and Opportunities in Expanding Access, Equity and Quality Assurance Educationâ€ during the national conference for nation building and global competitiveness recently organised by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council in Abuja.
Education, which is the most effective mechanism for development, says Adedoja, is not simply about teaching a curriculum and testing whether the kids have learned it. The physical and the psychological state of the pupils, the competence of the teachers, and the environment of the school are all crucial factors, adding that there is a need for child – friendly schools that seek out children in order to give them the education that is their right.
Explaining the role of quality education in nation building, Prof.Â Adedoja says: â€œThe purpose of education is learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.
It is the creation of competent and civil individuals, a basic prerequisite for sustained development. DevelopedÂ countries of the world aspire to have a thriving knowledge economies which depend on creativity and ingenuity.â€
The Oyo State Commissioner of Education explained that access, equity and quality assurance have increasingly and significantly become the strongest parameters for determining the relevance andÂ functionality of education, especially in developing countries where reform regimes in the sector have become imperative for meeting the Education For All and Millennium Development Goals targets.
But, inspite of the importance of access, equity and quality in education, they continue to pose serious challenge to the sector, noting that education, which is strategic for national and regional development, must first and foremost serve all because it is a human right and a development imperative.
Access, according to him, is about ensuring and institutionalizing the school readiness culture, enrolment, attendance, retention and completion of meaningful schooling within the various strata of the education system while equity infers the extentÂ to which opportunities are broadened enough to make room for all disadvantaged segments of the society to receive education that is appropriate and relevant to their present and future life dispositions.
Education quality assurance, says Prof. Adedoja, refers to the modalities for evolving, monitoring and re-appraising indices, benchmarks and good practices within an education system.
As a way of solving the challenges resulting from access, equity and quality assurance, Prof. Adedoja counsels that the governments in developing countries should be aspiring for schools that are centred on the children and include all of them in their activities. He also calls for re-orientation for the institutionalisation of the education quality assurance approach in the education system at all levels, collaborative, consultancy, autonomous public agency at state and local government levels as well as meeting resource and training needs for the development of education quality assurance services on a country-wide basis.
Counselling further, Adedoja said: â€œOur essential purpose as educators and education ministry must be to equip people for the world in which they live and will live. This calls for preparing to get everyone on board the global education train (GET) and ensure that our children are not left behind, or feel inferior when they deal with their peers from the various parts of the globe. Fit to work and live in any part of the globe.â€
The Education Commissioner revealed that Oyo State intends to get everyone onboard the GET through the seven strands of the Oyo MESI Quality Assurance framework. He says: â€œThe Quality Assurance scheme of the Ministry of Education in Oyo State is dubbed Oyo MESI in responding to the challenges of access, equity and quality and to reposition the state to provide world class education for all children. This scheme is based on a whole school evaluation approach as detailed in the Nigerian Education RoadMap by the Federal Ministry of Education, and it comprises of seven strands.â€
He continues: â€œOyo MESI aims to ignite in every child the wonder of learning and to provide meaningful educational experiences in a safe and caring environment including, strong standards -based academics, accelerated instruction based on the studentâ€™s own capacity and pace and an enriched curriculum through the seven strands of the quality assurance framework.â€
This quality assurance framework, says Prof. Adedoja, implies that schools must set up a quality assurance team to lead the process, audit the school provision using the Oyo MESI checklists to identify strengths and areas to improve, identify and compile evidence to demonstrate that the stated goals of the framework are met and decide areas of gap, develop an action plan to improve learning provision and overall support for learners assess learning outcomes for pupils and complete a self evaluation form.