Sunday, 28 December 2014

On Education in Nigeria

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu
I recently met with a seasoned Mathematician and educationist who turned politician, he is now the Nigerian Minister of Education, he was a former Governor of one of the largest state in Nigeria (Kano), his name is Mallam Ibrahim Shekarua. I listened to the lecture he delivered to us during the NMF UK annual meeting here in London last Saturday, and I think I should share with you some of his submissions in the lecture and some follow up questions as follows:

1. Mallam Shekarau stated that Constructing Roads, Buildings and Some Fancy physical features may not always be an evidence of Good Governance. He said everybody can do such things, because it is about signing contract. However, morality and good conduct of people is the major and difficult achievement of every purposeful government. The context of his presentation was about Mass education as a vehicle (medium) for fighting poverty and promoting development. He claims that morality of society is more significant than physical development, and that is why he instituted the Hisbah when he was a governor in Kano state... What about you? what do you think about this?

2. The minister further stated that, there is no "Western Education". Education is Education, whatsoever. However, the manner and content of an education is what differs. "The only thing we have is western system of Education, and we can have Arabian System of Education, American system of Education, Hausa System of Education, Igbo System of Education, Yoruba System of Education... etc" The content of Education must be tailored to address circumstances, issues, and opportunities prevailing in society, and it has to be updated frequently. Pls Discuss!

3. "Child's ability to speak in English is not a sign of Quality Education, and parents who send their kids to private schools should not be deceived by their children's ability to speak in English. English is a language NOT Education" He also stated that.." Primary and Secondary Schools Education should be taught in native languages, so that a child can deeply understand the concept of the education. English language should be learned as a language, but not as a tool for acquiring Education." He claimed that Child morality, ethics and understanding of societal norms should be a priority. A professor who spoke in prelude to the minister's lecture mentioned that, what happened in Educational institutions is a reflection of the society, so, society dictates what and how education should be. Mr Shekarau barely started his main presentation before he exhausted his allocated time, he wished he would have been a discussant.

The above three points provoked incessant thinking on my mind, and I decided to share with you this, to hear you opinion about the above, and in general how we can make our educational system better. I as an Educationist, Economist, and advocate for quality education, always want to discuss on the topic: Education.

I was not given the chance to ask Mr Shekarau the following questions:

1. As a minister of Education, did you realise how Nigeria keep transporting Student to Education(abroad), instead of transporting Education to Student(at home). Noting the huge expenses associated with the option of transporting student to Education abroad, which includes payment of tuition fees, flight tickets, visa fees, living expenses abroad, etc Relying on foreign education as the only option for accessing quality education has led to the low esteem and competitiveness of the local universities, and this contributed to the continues devaluation of the Nigerian currency, due to the high demand of the international currencies and hence over supply of the Nigerian currency. Why can't we build Harvard University, Cambridge University or Oxford University in Nigeria? so that people from Africa, Asia, and Arab will have to come to Nigeria to acquire quality education, so that more Nigerians will have access to quality education. We can pay the current staffs and afford a running cost of a Cambridge standard university in Nigeria, why cant we do it? Recalling the huge costs incurred by both federal government, PTDF, TETFUNDS, State governments, private individuals, companies and parastatals in sponsoring student abroad. Putting these figures for just one year, it is enough to upgrade one university in Nigeria to that standard, and if we can do that continuously for six years, we can have six Cambridge universities in Nigeria.. What do you think?

2. My second question is: I attended public schools both at primary and secondary levels, and I can remember how very little or rather nothing I knew. I was accidently inspired to become serious only at the tail end of my secondary school, and I was lucky I accidentally pass my JAMB to go to University directly. I knew how lucky I am to wore green and white uniforms and still reach this stage, and I know we could not have many lucky people like me. The quality of education at foundation level is very poor and how do you expect students to cope with the more advanced University curriculum if the foundation is weak? People need not to be lucky to acquire education, it is a right. Would you consider upgrading the quality and standard of primary and secondary schools education by increasing the salaries of teachers at those levels so as to attract best brains at the foundation levels? It makes more sense to spend more at a foundation than at the upper part of a building. Discuss pls

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