By DAYO ADESULU
Last week, teachers from public and private senior secondary schools in Ondo State were equipped with new skills and techniques of implementing the new Senior Secondary Education Curriculum (SSEC) at a six-day rigorous training programme which was organised by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in collaboration with Ondo State Ministry of Education. The capacity-building workshop took place in three major towns in the state namely; Akure, Ikare and Okitipupa, with close to 800 teachers in attendance.
Addressing the teachers and the state’s education policymakers led by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. T. O. Kolawole, the Director/Head of NERDC South-West Zonal Office, Dr. Moses Salau, explained that the restructuring of the SSEC resulted in the development of 42 curricula (subjects) and 34 vocational Trades/Entrepreneurship curricula, an exercise that was approved by the National Council of Education (NCE) in 2009, adding that the curriculum will provide for a systematic connection between its contents and the learning of future contents.
Salau, who spoke on behalf of the agency’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Godswill Obioma, further told the gathering that the senior secondary curriculum is structured in a way that will 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 education level.
This means that the new curriculum is designed to stem the tide of mass failure in the senior secondary certificate examination (SSCE) and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board-conducted examination. His words; “The philosophy of the curriculum concerning adequate preparation of every senior secondary school graduate for higher education implies that he or she would have passed creditably well in WAEC and JAMB examinations. That the graduates would have also acquired saleable skills, with the capacity to set up their own businesses as a fall-out of the skills they acquired from the 34 trade subjects. This functional education will make them job creators instead of job seekers, thereby banishing poverty from their lives.”
According to Dr. Salau, each senior secondary school is not to teach its students all the 34 trade subjects but schools are to choose the ones for which they have facilities and workshops and the ones most relevant to the school’s vision and the community, adding that a student is expected to offer one of these 34 trade subjects.
The facilities and workshops for teaching these trade/entrepreneurship subjects, according to Salau, are to be provided by the owners of private schools as well as state and federal governments in the case of public schools.
Among the 34 trade subjects are auto body repair and spray painting, auto electrical work, auto mechanical work, auto parts merchandising, air conditioning/refrigeration, welding and fabrication, radio/TV and electrical work, block-laying, painting and decoration, plumbing and pipe-fitting, mechanical woodworking, carpentry and joinery, furniture making and catering.
Others are garment-making, textile trade, cosmetology, leather goods manufacturing, data processing, store keeping, GSM maintenance, photography, tourism, mining, fisheries, animal husbandry, marketing and salesmanship.
This emphasis of the curriculum on vocational education does not, however, mean a complete transformation of schools to comprehensive schools, says Salau, reiterating that post-basic schools in forms of senior secondary schools, technical schools, commercial schools and comprehensive schools (where all fields of studies are offered), will continue to operate.
He, however, added that all students in every type of senior secondary school must offer five compulsory cross-cutting subjects of English Language, General Mathematics, Computer Studies, ICT, Civic Education and one Trade/Entrepreneurial subject irrespective of whether a student is in the field of science and mathematics, technology, humanities or business studies. Each student is also expected to choose an elective subject outside his or her specialized field of study.
Since the implementation of the senior secondary curriculum commenced in September 2011 in all SS1 classes nationwide, with the first batch of JSS graduates produced from the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum, Salau told the gathering that the year by year phasing out of the old curriculum which commenced in September 2011, would be completed by June 2014, adding that the first batch of SS students will graduate also in June 2014.
The training of teachers nationwide on how to implement the curriculum and the development of Teachers Handbook to guide the teachers is informed by NERDC’s realisation that the development of an excellent curriculum cannot alone lead to effective implementation. This has made NERDC to come up with some sustainable strategies to enforce an effective delivery of the curriculum.
His words; “Some of the strategies we have put in place at NERDC to ensure an effective implementation of the curriculum include state-wide distribution of the curriculum, annual state-level capacity building of teachers, reviewing and developing textbooks, regular assessment of educational books and reference materials and annual evaluation of the curriculum implementation process.”
He implored the Ondo State Ministry of Education and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools to organise training workshops in each of the local government councils of the state with a view to expanding the number of teachers exposed to the exercise.
Messers G.N Chukwu and Nwachukwu Olisa are the two other resource persons from NERDC while Dr. Oluwayomi Oladunjoye came from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.
At the end of the vigorous training session, the teachers unanimously said that the training workshop has enriched their understanding of the curriculum. They asked the Federal Government to make it an annual event as a way of improving education in the country.
Each of the teachers was given a certificate at the end of the exercise. They are to go back to their different schools and impart the knowledge they have gained to their colleagues who were not shortlisted for the training workshop.