AGAINST the background of Nigeria’s high educational standards in the past, exemplified by achievements of Nigerians in diverse fields, the proposed quality assurance policy guidelines being contemplated to improve standards in the nation’s education and match international best practices has advertised the damage done over the years.
The glorious era must therefore, return, beginning with a redevelopment or re-design of the curricula at all levels. A complete overhaul of the education sector with a view to inculcating the country’s history and cultural values, innate skills of individuals and not the least a more receptive teaching and learning approach, is hereby advised. The accumulated years of carelessness and insensitivity to developments in education may be typical of the approach to most other areas, which got Nigeria to this sordid state of affairs. But then, such a lack of attention to the education of citizens is regrettable, in fact, strongly condemnable for it is akin to trifling with the future of a nation.
The present administration must therefore, pick up the pieces, reflect on the years of waste and make the most of the opportunity left, in the interest of future generations. Considering the damage already done, reconstruction effort may take a long time to fix properly but it is nonetheless appropriate to set at it now. Stakeholders have the assurance that the implementation guidelines being developed would provide clear directions for inspectors and administrators to operate the policy.
Good planning is required, however, to produce workable policy guidelines without which much progress would be a mirage. The hallmark of that progress is rooted in a new orientation for the officials, education administrators, inspectors, teachers and, to a greater extent, the students too.
Officials of the Ministry of Education who hinted of the commencement of the process of developing the ‘Guideline on National Education Quality Assurance’ to strengthen quality of education in Nigeria were correct in their explanation that the current situation in the sector is “unacceptable”. Poor quality of teaching and learning at the basic level of education in the country, they appropriately said, has continued to pose a challenge. “The present outcome in terms of learner’s performance as evidenced in public exam results below tertiary level still leaves much to be desired as it does not justify government’s huge investment in education.”
This admission of inadequacy is the truth that must be noted and addressed.
However, the claim of ‘huge’ investment is subjective. For long, government has not come anywhere near the minimum standard of the United Nation’s 26 percent recommendation of budgetary provisions for education of its citizens. Infrastructural decay in the sector has been massive, allocations have dwindled to uncomfortable levels, education policy somersaults are the order of the day, teachers and students have been in and out of classrooms on strike for non-payment of salaries in some cases upwards of eight months in some states, among other intervening variables of decline.
Policy, any government policy, to address problem in the long-term should be cause for joy. But what is a policy worth without a proper funding of plans? Even amid dwindling revenue, there is a shrill call for empowering Nigerian citizens with good education. Only with adequate and reasonable funding can this be done. (The commitment of government to education delivery as evidence in the current budget proposals including the plan to recruit and train 500, 000 teachers for basic education is a good take-off point. Sustainability of good funding is also important and the government owes the people that much.
Nigeria must begin to lay a solid foundation for its future by investing appropriately in education. And one of the redeeming steps would be to make teaching truly professional. Teachers are true nation builders. And they must be so treated with appropriate remuneration. Their dignity must be upheld at all times and at all cost.
Search for quality education may have truly forced many parents who can afford such to send their children abroad in the attempt to make them global professionals. Undoubtedly, this is a drain on the resources of the country.
The search must begin here to restore confidence in Nigerians that they can still get the best out of their system. In essence, the government and the people have on their hands a big task that must be done.