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Nigeria:Babatunde Fafunwa to apologise to Nigerians

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday asked Babatunde Fafunwa, former minister of education, to apologise to Nigerians over the failure of the 6-3-3-4 system of education.

Speaking during an interactive session at the opening of the Presidential Stakeholder’s Summit, at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, he said the system has failed to provide the solutions to the Nigerian educational system.

From Mr. Jonathan’s position, there are strong indications that the Presidential Summit may recommend reverting the educational system in the country to what it used to be.

Self reliant youth

The 6-3-3-4 system of education came into being in 1983 with the primary focus of meeting the educational needs of its citizenry and equipping the youth with skills that will make them self reliant.

Twenty-five years after, a new educational system called the Universal Basic Education (UBE), otherwise known as the 9-3-4, has been re-introduced, whose curriculum is expected to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2020.

Florence Fabian, a participant at the event, said the problems associated with education are not only peculiar to education alone, but a general problem that affects the Nigerian society, which can only be solved with good leadership.

She rhetorically asked if the president was prepared to provide the required leadership that will transform the system, since this was the solution the educational system needed.

Contributing to the debate, Ovie Emmanuel Sideso Abe, corroborated Ms. Fabian’s view and urged President Jonathan to do something different in moving education out of the doldrums.

A traditional ruler, who spoke on the need to “de-politicise education so that proper quality education is handed down to Nigerians,” also dwelt on the need for comprehensive data collection and quality access and equity in education, saying that this may go a long way in improving Nigeria’s education system.

He called for a joint funding of education and streamlined quality of education, suggesting that this was one of the ways of repositioning education in Nigeria.

Faruk Lawan, chairman, house committee on education, also supported joint funding, and went ahead to advocate parental contributions, lamenting that the value of education and the curriculum that is taught in higher institutions have become irrelevant to the overall needs of the country.

The lawmaker discussed the issue of corruption in the education sector and called for accountability in the system.

Julius Okojie, the executive secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), spoke on the low quality of entrance into universities, and the need for strict regulations.

Mr. Okojie said morality on the part of higher education administrators is very important, stating that without “morality there can’t be standard in the system.”

He further spoke on the quality of lectures in the different institutions, and noted that “no system in the world can develop when those doing the teaching are not qualified.”

Pitfalls of education

Dibu Ojerinde, JAMB executive secretary, spoke on the factors militating against education in Nigeria, especially the issue of space availability, discrimination in course choices, and the quality of teachers, stating that “if these issues aren’t resolved, education cannot move forward.”

He also spoke on the inconsistent academic calendars and the years of graduation, and said “government must do something to regularise it.”

Mr. Ojerinde further lamented the level of examination malpractices in the education system and noted that adequate punishment must be meted to culprits. He further attributed the mass failure in the school system to lack of adequate teaching and teaching infrastructure, adding that most teachers do not cover the syllabus.

“It is difficult to curtail exam malpractices when they can giraffe in open halls. If exams are well conducted, we will get the best results,” he said.

He added that public exams bodies, like WASEC and NECO, which are the gate keepers, would have the best results if the right things are done.

Addison Wokocha, registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), blamed teachers at all the tiers of education, as been responsible for the poor education foundation in the country.

He lamented that state governments do not employ qualified teachers to teach in the respective state schools and noted that in most cases, the state governments resort to deploying members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to teach in state schools, even when they are not qualified to teach.

The TRCN scribe further said they have taken the decision to stop the deployment of unqualified teachers to teach in any Nigerian school.