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 Education for Life
 
Beyond funding
The Guardian, Nigeria, Nigeria Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thompson Ayodele
THE National Examination Council and West African Examination Council have recently released their results. Changing systems do not actually solve the challenges associated with the decline in quality of education. The qualities of publications used by students in West Africa are largely of poor quality when compared with the ones in other parts of the world. The quality of education being dished out should be a concern to all, writes Thompson Ayodele and Olusegun Sotola in The Guardian, Nigeria.

THE National Examination Council (NECO) and West African Examination Council have recently released their results. Of the total number of students that sat for NECO examinations less than two per cent passed while 25 per cent of students who sat for WAEC passed. The outcomes of the two ?examinations point to one direction: the decline in the quality of education. In order to arrest the trend, one of the panicky measures being proposed by the federal government is the abolition of 6-3-3-4 system and reverting to 6-5-4 system which was abandoned in the late 80s. Taking measures to salvage the education sector do not mean simply switching from one system to another alone.

The public policy challenge in the present circumstance is to take a holistic view at the entire sector with a view to seeing what stakeholders have either not done correctly or done with half measure. Changing systems do not actually solve the challenges associated with the decline in quality of education. When the current system was embarked on there was noticeable downward trend in the education sector which necessitated changing to a different system.

...

This argument seems not to hold much water. There are reasons to believe the fallen in standards quality of education cannot be solved through quantitative increase in allocation alone. In monetary terms, the allocation to the sector has always been increasing without a corresponding increase in quality. That means, if funding is the real problem, there ought to have been a commensurate improvement in view of the investments in the sector.

...

There has been a clamour for increased funding. But little is done to actually address the quality of those who train the students. At primary and secondary level, those who ended up teaching are there because there is no other alternative job. A visit to schools in the hinterland will reveal a large gap between the number of hours teachers spent on teaching activities and on non-teaching activities. Many of the pupils either perform chores in the teachers’ house or farm during the school hours. At tertiary level the story is not different. The ability to effectively impact knowledge and lecture is lacking in some lecturers. When this is noticed, such lecturers resort to high-handedness.

The qualities of publications used by students are largely of poor quality when compared with the ones in other parts of the world. The standard practice in academics the world over is for lecturers to have research issues they are working. They are required to turn out the outcome of the research in a timely manner. But this is not the case. It is not surprising to discover that the contents of most books referred to as departmental publications are largely substandard. Ironically these are publications that students are mandated to read. The end result is half-baked graduates that employers find unemployable upon graduation.

...

Already many parents are voting with their feet in public schools. Even poor parents are moving away their kids out of public schools because they do not to see active teaching taking place. That means the present administration should move beyond simply convening special emergency summit to address mass failure in public examinations and the poor quality of graduates of tertiary institutions. Instead there is the need to take a critical look at the entire education policy and accommodate noticeable trends used in shoring up the quality of education elsewhere.

...

The amount allocated to public education is usually one of the biggest items in states and federal governments budgets. But the amount each tier of government spends on each student is hard to come by. Knowing how much is spent per student/pupil and making it public will throw more light into the issue of funding and ease the measurement of quality and quantity. Furthermore it will give an insight into whether the introduction of a voucher system which fund student/pupil directly will be more quality-inclined. An education voucher is a form of payment issued by the government to parents who in turn use the voucher as evidence of payment of tuitions in their choice of school.  The schools collect vouchers from the students and deposit them with their bankers. The banks then credit the school accounts by equivalent money while debiting the account of the government. No money actually changes hands.

...

The quality of education being dished out should be a concern to all.   Development in the 21st Century springs from ideas. Ideas come from informed minds. That means Nigeria needs to develop a radical approach towards revamping education. Merely changing from 6-3-3-4 to 6-5-4 alone will not necessarily arrest the decline of standards.

This article was published in the The Guardian, Nigeria on Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Ayodele is a Project 21 associate and, the Executive Director of Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Tags- Find more articles on - government | ideas | nigeria | quality | west africa

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