By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
Top officials of state Ministries of Education, Educational Resource Centres and State Universal Basic Education Boards who are in charge of policy making have been exposed to a training in modern research techniques where they were told of the need to base decisions and implementation of policies and programmes on research findings.

The two-day training programme, which held in Benin City, Edo State on May 27th and 28th and attended by about 60 participants from across the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, was organised by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council.

It is the agency responsible for assisting in capacity building of the relevant personnel of ERCs and SUBEBs in areas of need as they share with NERDC the ideals of adding quality to education through promoting and implementing research, development policies and programmes.

The idea of employing modern research techniques by educational administrators in decision making process and implementation of policies is now the trend in the context of global best practices.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Godswill Obioma said much of this in his address delivered at the occasion.

His words: “Research is a very important tool in education. It is a process of finding out the solution to a problem in a systematic manner; the result of which will contribute to or constitute the solution of a real problem. Research plays a key role in policy and programme development and for measuring the impact of policies and programmes.

He continues: “Research is central to the mission of ERCs and research findings give credence to the work of educational practitioners and policy makers. There is therefore the need for the senior officials of ERCs and SUBEBs to continue to acquire up-to-date research skills that will equip them in policy and programme formulation as well as implementation.”

The Edo State Commissioner of Education, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Osarenren, who was represented by her Permanent Secretary, Dr Paul Osahgae, spoke in the same vein in her welcome address.

She said: “It is true that the old pattern of data gathering, collation and analysis can no longer suffice in the face of the ever-growing challenges of our times, particularly in the area of decision-making which demands empirical approaches and the use of Information Communication Technology. No nation can forge ahead in our globalised world without having the right persons with the knowledge and skills that are necessary in our world of Information Technology.”

Osarenren added that there is the need to build human capacity, in the education sector, with the necessary research techniques in order to be abreast with trends, adding that when the operators of the nation’s education system have the right competences, the country will move fast in actualising the vision 20-2020 as envisaged by the present administration.

Participants were exposed to various issues through the presentation of papers on Development of Strategic Plans of Action by Prof. Godswill Obioma; Management of Public Policy Research in Education by Ngozi Uwazurike, a Professor of Education and NERDC Governing Board Member; Information Management for Quality Education by Dr. Kenneth Uwah, a consultant on Management Information System and Basic Internet and Presentation Skills by Mr. Emeka Obi, Head of Informatics of NERDC.

Obioma, who practically turned the workshop to a classroom setting  by adopting the teaching method in presenting his paper, painstakingly explained to the participants the meaning of Strategic Action Plan (SAP), why SAP is needed in implementing education policies and programmes, the essence of vision and mission statements and the roles they play in SAP.

The NERDC boss also touched on SWOT analysis which he explained as strategic planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project as well as the three main stages of strategic planning which include sector analysis or sector review, policy design and action  planning.

The high points of Prof. Obioma’s paper is that SAP is the process of defining strategy, or direction and making decisions on allocating organisation’s resources, SAP is accompanied by 5-year implementation action plan, that vision and mission statements and strategic goals are essential ingredients in SAP and that SWOT analysis provides the necessary background in the process of developing SAP.

At the nexus of Prof. Uwazurike’s presentation is the extent to which agencies in the education sector are able to interpret and manage public policies based on research.
According to him, the disconnect in effective execution of the various policies at the various levels of governance of management impinges on the quality of service delivery, teacher quality and overall achievement of systemic goals.
For harnessing research-based information in education as a way of promoting quality assurance in schools, Prof. Uwazurike pushed for some management techniques which include, planning, programming, budgeting system; programme evaluation and review technique and management by objectives, adding that the effective use of these techniques in the execution of public policies would promote rational decision making and that various research findings would be more effectively realized if managerial principles are vigorously implemented by educational administrators.

Some recommendations meant to improve the sector were proposed as follows: That Ministries of Education, SUBEBs and ERCs should commence the development of Strategic Action Plan to be accompanied by an Implementation Action Plan of not less than 5-year lifespan.

Also these agencies should have vision and mission statements as well as strategic goals.

The need for NERDC to review and update the existing handbook for the establishment of ERCs for approval by the National Council on Education, and that government at all levels should put necessary machinery in place towards institutionalising information management.

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