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Data analysis shows notable gains in education sector

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Peter Okebukola

Amid the challenges and setbacks witnessed by the country’s educational system in the outgone year, Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, has revealed that the sector notwithstanding recorded some good marks in 2017.

Okebukola in a document made available to The Guardian, said it is not all bad stories for the Nigerian education sector as there are indicators that shows some remarkable progress.

According to him, “If we took Nigeria’s educator sector for “health check-up” at the close of 2017, there are at least 45 indicators that can be reported on. Data inadequacies inhibit such comprehensive report, so we must pick from the menu, those indicators that we can conveniently derive some passable data.

“This check-up also shuns the tendency of focusing only on what the federal government does in the education sector leaving the over per cent of the sector that is constitutionally covered by state and local governments. Nationally, literacy rate (15 years and older) made slight gain from 67.3 per cent to 68.1 per cent; primary gross enrolment ratio also improved from 94.32 per cent to 96.14 per cent; secondary gross enrolment ratio increased from 58.21 per cent to 63.4 per cent; and tertiary gross enrolment also increased from 11.9 per cent to 12.3 per cent.”

On the quality front as measured by the percentage pass in public examinations, Okebukola said there was notable improvement in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) results conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).

At the tertiary level, he said, “Universities recorded 18 per cent increase in the number of graduates that made first class. The number of academic programmes that earned the National Universities Commission’s (NUC) full accreditation status increased by 9.2 per cent in 2017. Quite striking also in 2017 is that JAMB processed within a month, admission into the Nigerian higher education system of 1.7 million candidates compared to 1.6 million in 2016.

“This is the highest in 40 years! In 2017, the Nigerian university system added eight new universities (two state-owned, six private). Our research group documented a 12 per cent drop in reported cult cases on university campuses in 2017 and a significant improvement in the use of technology for teaching, learning and research. In September 2017, NUC launched the first-of-its-kind in Africa Nigeria University System Open Educational Resources with a draft national policy to back it up.”

Bringing their searchlight to the state level, he said in the overall, notable gains were recorded in the 36 states and the FCT.

“Let us see a few illustrative examples. With UNIDO support, Anambra State established Learning Initiative For Entrepreneurs (LIFE) programme in 41 senior secondary schools across the three senatorial zones of the state to bolster employability of secondary school graduates and reduce crime rate.

Bauchi State allocated 18 per cent of its 2017 budget to the education sector, the highest of any sector in the 2017 budget. In Borno State, 7,169 primary and junior secondary school teachers were trained in modern methods of teaching. The state also built a large number of modern schools and remodelled a number of existing ones. A total of 15,197 out-of-school Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were provided access to education in 304 non-formal learning centres. At least 3,000 teachers were promoted and the ‘Volunteer Teaching Scheme’ increased the number of teachers. Education sector had the highest provision in the 2017 budget of the state.

He continued, “Ekiti State was outstanding in the 2017 SSCE and improved on its already praiseworthy teacher welfare scheme. Lagos State significantly invested in modernising, beautifying and resourcing its schools for effective teaching and learning and improving teachers’ welfare. It is finalising its 2017 policy on education, which will be the model for other states in the federation.

“In Kano State over 40,000 girls were granted scholarship to encourage girl-child enrolment and retention. About 3,000 schools were repaired to enhance learner-friendliness. Ogun state recorded an unprecedented 23 per cent budgetary allocation to education and elevated the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic to a university of science and technology. An ultramodern Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia is also being developed.”

Still on states’ achievement, Okebukola stated that Rivers State government established several ultramodern schools and shut 1,886 illegal schools to maintain standards. On the part of Sokoto, he said in a bid to increase funding for education, the Sokoto State government established N1b annual levy for education with the administration to be overseen by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III.

Stretching the analysis outside the national boundaries and making global comparisons of the performance of the sector with other countries in the world, he stated, “At the 2017 UNESCO General Conference where the education report cards of over 190 countries were rendered, keen watchers from other countries applauded the remarkable strides made in basic and higher education in Nigeria relative to other countries in Africa.

“Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, was roundly commended and spurred to stay on the trajectory of making Nigeria the beacon of education success story in Africa especially the march to attain Sustainable Development Goal Four on quality education,” he said.

In spite of these gains, he regretted that a number of dark spots blighted the education firmament in 2017.

“At the state level, in at least 16 states, teachers were owed upward of five months’ salaries. Universities were shut for at least six weeks by “aluta” action at different times by different categories of staff unions. Closure of polytechnics was for longer duration induced by strikes by polytechnic staff.

“In many states, strikes by teachers led to pupils staying at home for months. Corruption in education in all its forms is yet to abate including those perpetrated by parents, teachers, students and government officials. Teacher quality still remains a vexed issue and the large number of out-school-children is still a national and global embarrassment.”

He therefore urged government and all stakeholders to work towards consolidating the gains of 2017 and achieving more in 2018 through proper funding and implementation of healthy policies for the sector.


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