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 ways of improving the dwindling reading culture among students in the country.
He said the Federal Government understood this perfectly, when it instituted the 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 for and against their various topics, bordering on current issues in the society, the former minister said extracurricular activities such as debates, were no longer organised by school authorities to improve students’ academic prowess.
His words; “The debate of this nature is a first attempt to get what we want in the country. I have always stated at different fora that one of the reasons for the falling standard of education in Nigeria is people’s inability to read. So, to reverse it, several actions are taken, part of which is this debate. You will agree with me that you cannot take part in a school debate without reading.
“What we have seen today is the totality of action we want in Nigeria to be able to reverse the falling standard of education in Nigeria.”
Agada disclosed that government’s efforts to improve standard of education in the country had been yielding positive results, as the country had been able to win a hosting right of the international school debate in 2016.
He said this was made possible due to excellent performance put up by Nigerian students in all the international school debates the country had 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 competition into primary and post-primary schools.
According to him, debate competition in schools is no longer what it used to be, and this, no doubt, is affecting standard of education in Nigeria, urging management and parents to revive the competition to improve performance of students.