By Adesina Wahab
LIKE some other sectors, education is facing serious challenges in Nigeria and the factors militating against its growth are known to most people.
Also, everybody agrees that there is need to save the sector, but the question is how do we save education from total collapse? Saving the sector also needs considering various stakeholders in the sector.
These include the teachers, parents/guardians, the government and even the pupils/students. Other factors such as funding the sector, the curriculum to teach the pupils/ students are also important. It was in the light of this that people from different parts of the country converged on Lagos to discuss the way forward.
The promoter of the event tagged: #SaveEducationNow# was a group, Concerned Parents and Educators, CPE.
Why the dialogue?
Founder of CPE, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, said: “A lot of fora have held and many people have identified the multifarious problems besetting the education sector, but we felt it is time to begin to take active and positive steps on how to tackle the challenges.
Like the name suggests, CPE is made up of people concerned about the state of education in the country and who want to make positive contributions to improve the situation.
Today’s event is the climax of our month-long advocacy activities. “We have members in 21 states of the federation including Abuja and our resolution will be in a communiqué that will be forwarded to the Federal Government, all state governors, the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly too. It is obvious that if we don’t do something now, the future of our dear country could be in jeopardy.”
Also speaking, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Sosan, who also doubled as Commissioner for Education while in office, described education as power that frees people and makes them tread where others are afraid. “Budgetary allocation to the sector should be upped.
Those who do not send their wards to school and make their children breadwinners are doing a great disservice to themselves and the society at large.
We must also take advantage of technology to advance education in Nigeria. If we don’t do all these things now, we are toying with our future.”The Kano State Coordinator of CPE, Mallam Garba Tasiu, said this trip was his first visit to Lagos.
“I initially thought that the challenges we face in the North concerning education were not being faced in the South, but my contact with CPE has revealed that some of the challenges cut across all parts of the country. Though some may be peculiar to some areas, but if we don’t collectively tackle all, the repercussions will affect us all,” he said.
How do we reposition teaching?
Rotimi Eyitayo, who spoke about how to reposition teaching, also talked about the mindset of teachers. According to him, the knowledge gap must be filled. “Apart from that, we must also bridge the exposure divide. Teachers must craft and carve a new identity for themselves and a new identity crafted for the profession.
We must embrace a new philosophy, expand our context and showcase exploits. More importantly, we must drive policy-based education and not politics-based.one. “We must develop the right message, export experts and explore the depth of the sector.
We must not turn teaching to a job of last resort, or what people grudgingly do when they have no option. It must be made attractive to the people and teachers must carry themselves with dignity,” he said.
How can parents work with schools to nurture Nigerian children?
Praise Fowowe opined that the first step is for parents to observe and correctly interprete who their children are.
“To do this, parents must have a clear cut parenting template. When that is the case, parenting will be easier.
“Schools should also parent the parents and parents must be ready to provide support for their children’s schools in their areas of expertise. We must also elect leaders who value education or else there won’t be progress in the sector,” he stated.
How do we create curriculum that serves the society?
Dr Ifueko Thomas noted that a good curriculum should answer some questions such as what do I teach? How do I teach it? Where do I teach it? To whom do I teach? among others.
“This is necessary because a society is as good as the curriculum it has. We must identify our needs as a society and tailor our curriculum in that direction.
We need a curriculum that is relevant to our society. It is not a matter of us copying the curriculum of another society whose needs are different from ours. We don’t have a Nigerian curriculum and we must work towards getting that,” she opined.
How will our children love to learn?
It was not only Helen Prest Ajayi and Ifueko Thomas who handled the session that were ‘shocked’ by the various answers provided by pupils and students who were at the event, but the session was an eye opener for others as well, especially teachers. They said they want to learn in conducive environment.
“I don’t like where teachers compare students. I like a situation whereby teachers appreciate each student for his or her endowment and natural gifts,” Peter, a JSS 2 student said. “I like where academic is not the only thing being measured, where students are put on their toes and pushed to be better,“ Antonia stated.
While some of the students said they prefer fun-filled environment, some said they prefer a quiet atmosphere.
Another speaker, Johnson Abbaly, talked about changing the attitude of young Nigerians towards organised knowledge as against immediate pecuniary gains.
It is hoped that the message will get to the appropriate quarters and implementation done to really salvage education in the country.