Stakeholders suggest probe of NUC, scrapping Post-UTME exams, rebranding teaching profession
by IKENNA OBI
September 15, 2015 | 2:14 pm| | | Start Conversation
Buhari gets set to name ministers
As Nigerians anxiously await cabinet appointments which President Muhammadu Buhari says are due anytime now, stakeholders, disturbed by the lingering rot in the nation’s education sector and poor quality graduate turnout, are setting priorities for the next minister of education.
Some of the results of the rot in the system include a high number of out-of-school children (put at over 10 million by experts), little learning going on at basic education level, a huge skills gap identified by employers of labour and huge outflow of Nigerian students across the globe. It is estimated that Nigerians spend up to N1.5 trillion annually on foreign education.
At the Second Annual State of Education in Africa conference organised recently in Lagos by the Africa-America Institute, distinguished education stakeholders advocated for an education system that places a premium on appropriate teacher training to ensure that the quality deficit apparent amongst many teachers is significantly reduced.
Also, to attract candidates with the right skills set and attitude into the teaching profession, stakeholders at the conference recommended that remuneration and conditions of service for teachers be remarkably improved.
The conference participants hold that an education system is as good as the teachers who drive it. The existence of a teaching profession that is an all-comers affair in Nigeria and in many sub-saharan African countries is a disservice to the education system, they add.
Oluyomi Ola-David, a development economist and faculty member at the department of economics and development studies, Covenant University, Otta , Ogun State, who was a panelist at the Annual State of Education in Africa conference, lamented the deployment of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, who do not posses any training in basic teaching methods, to teaching assignments during their primary assignment.
Ola-David recommends that basic teaching methods be taught these corps members during their orientation programmes, to ensure that their contributions to the education system be more effective and positive and the deficit in quality teaching be reduced.
Adetunji Ogunyemi, economic historian and lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, advises the next minister of education to strengthen the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and save the institution from what he calls “the blackmail of the Universities”.
Ogunyemi goes on to recommend that “the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) examinations (held by universities) be abrogated henceforth and, in its place, there should be only the UTME which should be the only exams recognised for admissions into Nigeria’s higher institutions.”
Ogunyemi, who is also a lawyer, says that “the post-UTME has become a fraud in most cases; it is even illegal, for it is a direct affront on the law setting up the JAMB as the only central institution charged with conducting exams for, and determining admissions into universities in Nigeria”.
Further supporting the scrapping of post UTME exams, Ogunyemi says “since the central issue of concern has always been the integrity of JAMB’s examination and its management, candidates should be requested to write their UTME exams in their universities of first choice and the academic staff of the respective universities be requested to please help supervise the exams to limit the possibility of cheating”.
On the management of universities, Ogunyemi expresses worry that the nation’s ivory towers are fast becoming ethnic enclaves, rather than centres of merit and academic excellence.
He advises Nigeria’s next minister of education to beam his or her searchlight on federal universities especially, and “reverse the ethnic identity that some of our federal universities have assumed in about the last 30 years; an identity that has continued to pigeon-hole the universities’ top-management staff, such as the Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellors, Registrars, Bursars, and Librarians, as no more than the ethnic representatives of the immediate community or political zone in which the universities are located.”
This ethnic colouration, Ogunyemi believes, is “the greatest shame of the Nigerian university system today”.
On the proliferation of private universities, Ogunyemi advises the next minister of education to “institute a probe into the activities of the National Universities Commission(NUC) in about the last 16 years, especially in its apparent failure to insist on and apply the Basic Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) in the registration of private universities.” He strongly believes that “some private universities are a disservice to the education sector and the academia generally, in terms of the content of their curricula and the way they implement them.
He says that most of the lecturers they assemble are either not qualified or have not gained the requisite experience to occupy the offices they allocate to them.”
Bidemi Ojo, a technology entrepreneur and co-founder/ VP, Innovation & Strategy, Africa School of Productivity and Business Innovation Management (ASOPBIM), advises the next education minister to revamp the curricula in our education system and enthrone a curricula “that reflects the industry needs”.
Ojo further recommends the “rebranding of the teaching profession” and a “review of the teacher training model to reflect the new curriculum, enforce continuous teacher licence renewal exercise, introduce short courses for NYSC members, or other temporary teachers, as an additional requirement for hiring short-term teachers and a review of teacher wages to be among the highest, to attract the best brains”.
Experts are of the opinion that the youth bulge in Nigeria may after all, be a disservice if these youths are not properly empowered with the right knowledge and skills to contribute effectively to development.
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