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Factors that hinder quality education in Nigeria, by Ezekwesili, others

By Sunday Aikulola
29 September 2016   |   2:03 am
Contrary to the widespread belief that inadequate funding remains the biggest draw back to the attainment of quality education in the country, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili...
Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili

Contrary to the widespread belief that inadequate funding remains the biggest draw back to the attainment of quality education in the country, former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, says there were many other factors that are silently rocking the boat.

Prominent among these spoilers, she said, are poor teacher quality, incomplete curriculum, ethical gap, policy inconsistency among others challenges that must be confronted headlong.

Speaking at the Third Gamaliel & Susan Foundation Lecture in Lagos, which had as its theme: “Finding Solutions to the Problems of the Nigerian Education Systems: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach,” Ezekwesili, recalled, “When I was the Minister of Education, we discovered that the more the funding for education, the less the success rate by students. That shows the issue was not funding. We also discovered that Nigeria was falling back on enrolment whether primary, secondary, or tertiary. We found out that 61 million children of primary school age do not have access to education globally, while an estimated 10.5 million of the population are Nigerians. This figure was 3.6 million more in 2015 than it was in year 2000. It is because of these statistics that Nigeria was unable to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for Education.”

Speaking further, she stated that, “For every 100 pupils that go into a school system, only two will finish while the 98 will drift away. We also discovered that most students in public schools were learning nothing; we further found out that there was lack of courses in critical thinking; a yawning gap between education and workplace, poor management or running of schools, inequalities in terms of gender; inadequate attention given to early child school system among others.

“We also found out that teacher quality determines as much as 70 per cent of the learning outcomes that students will achieve. The reason why Finland excels globally is precisely because of the quality of teachers in their classrooms. You cannot be in the school system in Finland without a minimum of a masters’ degree. We discovered that the curriculum needed to innovate itself to the level of modern society. For instance, in the curriculum, we found out that there was no history, so we started a reform in the curriculum from primary to tertiary schools,” she added.

As a way out of this precarious situation, she advocated a National Economic Governance Conference, where all stakeholders, whether local governments, state governments, businessmen, opinion leaders, community-based organizations and civil societies would engage in a conversation. We need a conversation that is around economic governance. This makes you understand the roles of the key sectors of the economy.

“We operate a federal system of government, but in reality, there are many things standing in the way of the federal system. If we enter into the conversation on the basis of what type of productivity, or competitiveness level we should  be achieving as a country, then the outcome of the conversation will lead us to how the citizens will benefit from economic growth and development. The conference should not be political but economical, whereby all zones will be represented,” she submitted.

In his remarks, Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Ituah Ighodalo, charged President Muhammadu Buhari, to make education its priority, adding that there should be appropriate funding for education, as well as serious motivation for teachers.

While Principal Consultant/CEO, Leading Learning Ltd, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo in her remarks said government must be held responsible for the quality of education in the country, Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Ibukun Awosika, observed a lacuna in basic technical education, adding that the right society must be built for education to thrive.