BY CALEB AYANSINA
FORMER Minister of State for Education, Prof. Jerry Agada has identified intra and inter schools debate competition, as one of the best actions to improve the dwindling reading culture among students in the country.
He said the Federal Government understood this perfectly well, when it instituted presidential debate, as part of efforts to drive home its Bring Back the Book programme, launched some years back.
Agada stated this in an interview with newsmen shortly after an inter-school debate competition, organised by the Mastering Debate Concept, in Abuja.
Commending the debate in which 16 primary schools and six secondary schools took part with strong points to support for and against their various topics, bordering on current issues in the society, the former minister said extracurricular activities such debate were no longer organised by school authorities to improve students’ academic prowess.
His words; “A debate of this nature is a first attempt to get what we want in the country; I have always stated in any forum i find myself, that one of the reasons for the falling standard of the education in Nigeria is because of the people’s inability to read.
“So, to reverse it, several actions need to taken. Part of the actions is the debate that is being organised today, you can agree with me that you cannot take part in a school debate without reading.
“What we have seen today is the totality of what we want for Nigeria to be able to reverse the falling standard of education in Nigeria.”
Agada disclosed that government’s effort to improve the standard of education in the country has been yielding positive results, as the country has been able to win a hosting right for the International School Debate, come 2016.
He added that this was made possible due to excellent performance put up by Nigerian students in all the International School Debate the country has participated in.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of Mastering Debate Concept, Mr Akinsola Ahmed explained that the programme was designed to bring back the concept of Inter-school Debate into primary and post-primary school levels.
According to him, debate competition in schools is no longer what it used to be and is no doub affecting the standard of education in Nigeria, as he urged school management and parents to revive the competition to improve students’ performance.