OPINION: Agenda setting for President Tinubu’s administration, Education in focus

By Saliu Olanrewaju Lah

According to popular saying,  “Education is the bedrock of any development in any society”. Education is the most integral part of civilization in any society or country. The act of teaching and learning as we know is a lifetime process that cannot be compared to any other activities in the world.  Education has existed since the creation of man and has evolved over the years according to times and the continuous development of human affairs.

For any country to compete favorably in the comity of nations, its educational systems have to be designed to develop the human capital and the society at the same time.

Nigeria over the years has gone through different educational systems from pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial. It should be noted that education is on the concurrent list of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such, all three tiers of government are involved in the running and control at their levels of jurisdiction.

Nigeria currently operates the 6-3-3-4 or the 9-3-4 educational systems which means the first 6 years are for primary education for children between the ages of 4 to 5 and are expected to complete it at age 10 or 11.

The Universal Basic Education Act makes it compulsory and free for all children of school-going age. This Act is tenable in all government schools and provides all the necessary funding, from building and rehabilitation of classrooms, payment of salaries and allowances, provision of instructional materials, and every other thing needed to make it functional.

According to the reports by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics,  Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children.

The second leg is secondary education which is divided into two, the junior and senior secondary,  the UBE Act also makes the first three years compulsory where students are expected to write a final exam and any student can stop his education and go to practice what he or she has learned at the junior secondary school.

The idea is that the junior secondary school would have taught them some vocational training to enable them stand on their own. However, most secondary schools in Nigeria do not have the requisite equipment and manpower to train students in this area thereby making it irrelevant as far as the system is concerned.

The senior secondary is to prepare the students to go to higher institutions.

The students are made to write general examinations such as WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, and JAMB.

The higher institutions of learning in Nigeria are owned by the government both state and federal and private individuals. Nigeria currently has over 200 universities, 153 polytechnics, and 151 colleges of education.

In 2021, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Universities Commission, Prof Abubakar Rasheed disclosed that Nigerian Universities have a population of 2.1 million students studying different courses and berated the enrollment rate as a result of lack of placement in the university system.

In every calendar year, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) conducts exams for more than 1.5 million candidates, and about 300 to 400 thousand gain admissions to our higher institutions of learning.

Therefore, the new government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a lot of work to do in terms of developing the educational system in Nigeria and the following policy recommendations are considered essential to the reawakening of Nigeria’s ailing educational system;

1. The 6-3-3-4 or 9-3-4 system should be abolished as it has not served the purpose for which it was established. The system should run normally and the junior exams should be faced out completely.

2. The government should establish by way of legislation, vocational secondary schools across all wards in every local government in Nigeria.

3. The government should convene a summit of both local and international educators to chart a new course for the school curriculum and contents for all the levels of education in Nigeria to meet the current challenges such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Science, and a host of others.

4. Governments at all levels should as a matter of urgency devote at least 20 % of their yearly budget to the education sector based on the UNESCO recommendation.

5. Improving the teacher’s welfare and conditions at all levels, especially with the current economic situation in Nigeria occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidies.

6. Enactment of law, mandating all government officials to enroll their children in the public school system in Nigeria.

7. Conscious efforts should be made to increase the enrollment rate at all levels of our education

8. There should be a huge emphasis on funding of research and development. It should be noted that no Nigerian University is ranked among the best 1000 in the world.

Saliu Olanrewaju Lah writes from the ancient city of Ilorin


Ibrahim Sheriff is the Editor of Fresh Insight and former Special Assistant on Media to the Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly. Although a management science researcher by training, he has over five years experience of practice in Journalism, Public Relations and Communication Strategy. Sheriff holds a Masters Degree in Finance and Bachelors Degree in Banking and Finance from Kwara state University, Malete. He has Certificates in Digital Journalism, Enterprise Creation and Skill Acquisition (ECSA) and Basic Econometrics Data Analysis, as well as Bank of Industry (BoI) Certificate in Business Management. He is also a holder of Diploma in Cooperative Studies from Kwara state Polytechnic, Ilorin.

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