Millions of Nigerians are out of school – Urgent attention is needed

At the meeting of the 62nd National Council on Education (NCE) held in Kano, delegates deliberated on ways of improving teaching and learning in the primary and secondary schools, while the issue of teachers registration with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, also occupied the centre stage, reports, MADUABUCHI NMERIBEH.

Despite being endowed with rich natural re­sources, more than ten million Nigerian children are out-of school. Thus, the country harbours more than 50 percent of the 20 million children in the world who are out-of school, the coun­try harbours This dismal and worrisome picture in­exorably drew the attention of the 62nd National Council on Education INCE) which met in Kano, the Kano state capital, between July 24 – 28, 2017,
The venue of the meeting – the Afficent Centre located on Magaji Rumfa Road, Nas­sarawa GRA, Kano – was a beehive of activities, as egg-heads in the education sector in Nigeria, brainstormed on how to improve educational standards in the country.
It was, indeed, a weeklong event that also advertised the commercial value, tour­ist attraction and of course, the peace that has continued to endure in Kano since the beginning of the administra­tion of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
Quite a number of the del­egates, who were first-com­ers to the ancient commer­cial city and had heard bitter stories about Kano, have dif­ferent stories to tell as many among them confessed to the uncommon hospitality accorded them by the host community.
One of the prominent is­sues discussed at the meet­ing which was single-hand­edly sponsored by Governor Ganduje – an educationist, were: the need to change the narrative that Nigeria har­bours the highest number of out-of-school children, put at 10.5 million, out of 20 mil­lion world over.
Other key points dis­cussed at the meeting were: professionalization of teach­ing, and why the Federal Ministry of Education in­sisted that Christian Reli­gious Knowledge (CRK) and Islamic Studies (IS) should run as different subjects in the school curriculum from primary to secondary schools.
Hence the theme of the meeting: Inclusive Edu­cation: Creating Quality Learning Opportunities for All, Implications for Con­currency in Education in Ni­geria, was described by many delegates as being apt.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Educa­tion, Dr. Shade Yemi-Esan, who was the chairman of the occasion, revealed that out of 20 million out-of-school children in the world, 10.5 children are from Nigeria.
Yemi-Esan who spoke through Dr. Adamu Hus­saini, regretted that the country, despite its riches and vintage position in Af­rica. has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world with 10.5 million roaming the streets, repre­senting over 50 percent of the entire figure.
She identified the out-of school children to include the girl-child, almajiri-child, children of nomadic pasto­ralists, boy-child drop-out, area boys, children of mi­grant fishermen and farm­ers, children living with dis­abilities, and more recently, children displaced by insur­gency.
“Although the last few decades have witnessed a steady growth of both gov­ernmental and donor-driven education interventions to address the problem of ac­cess to quality education, our society is still confronted with the stark reality of low attendance and low attain­ment and completion rate among the marginalized and vulnerable groups,” she added.
According to her, “no nation can achieve economic prosperity without a sound, inclusive and functional ed­ucation system. The security and stability of the country to a large extent, depends on its ability to provide functional education to its citizens. The key to successfully address unemployment and social vices lies in the provision of inclusive quality education for all.”
In his keynote address, the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu advised teachers in the country to avail themselves of the two-year grace given to them by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to register, and get set for the compulsory Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE).
Adamu insisted that there is no going back on the new Federal Government policy on teachers’ qualification, adding that PQE remains a major criterion to cer­tify qualified teachers in the country.
He added that inclusive education and quality learn­ing opportunities for all can only be guaranteed through a skilled and motivated workforce.
The minister advocated for Technical and Vocation­al Education and Training (TVET), pointing out that the development of any na­tion depends largely on the kind of education that is available to its citizens.
“It is not education for the sake of it, but functional ed­ucation that propels a nation to the path of progress and development.
In order to achieve this, the Nigerian Education Re­search and Development Council (NERDC) in col­laboration with the United Nations Industrial Develop­ment Organization (UNI­DO), decided to review and infuse entrepreneurship con­tent into the 34 trade sub­jects’ curricula in line with global best practices.
“The purpose is to equip young school leavers with relevant work skills and en­trepreneurial competencies as well as develop scripted lessons (Teachers Guides) that will further help teach­ers to effectively implement the curricula contents,” said the minister.
He also cleared the air on the controversy surrounding the Basic Education curricu­lum as concerns the inclu­sion of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Studies.
“Perhaps, I should now comment on the very un­necessary and painful di­versionary controversy on the alleged removal of the study of Christian Religious Knowledge from our basic education curriculum.
“If you could recall, in my address to you at the 61st Na­tional Council on Education (NCE) meeting last year, I dwelt on the need and neces­sity for promoting religious, moral education, at the basic level…this is something that we Nigerians must never for­get.
“We owe a very heavy re­sponsibility to present and future generations to remove all inhibitions against mak­ing our children acquire moral and ethics as taught in our religious traditions.
“I urge you to consider making the study of Chris­tian Religious Knowledge compulsory for Christian students, and the study of Islamic Religious Knowledge compulsory for Muslim stu­dents, at least, up to the end of Senior Secondary School. There is nothing we can do to them better than give them character,” said the minister.
Speaking earlier at the occasion, Kano state Gov­ernor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, represented by his Deputy, Prof. Hafiz Abuba­kar, described the theme of the meeting as timely.
He said: “It is a wake-up call and an attempt to ad­dress the grey areas respon­sible for the inability of mil­lions of our youth to access quality education despite its centrality to the develop­ment of man and society.”
Governor Ganduje stated that his administration had completely turned around the education sector in the state, for the delivery of in­clusive, equitable and qual­ity education through poli­cies and laws which include Kano State Free and Com­pulsory Primary Education (law 2015).
He added that his admin­istration implemented the promotion of 44, 000 teach­ing and non-teaching staff which was put on hold for five years, stating that cur­rently, 27, 000 basic educa­tion teachers are on the state government’s sponsorship to obtain professional qualifica­tions, of which 2000 have al­ready graduated.
The governor said that notwithstanding financial resource constraints and other equally competing de­mands from other sectors, his administration has given due attention to secondary and tertiary sub-sectors to create a conducive teaching and learning environment.
He said that in the sec­ondary sub-sector, includ­ing science and technical education, over N3.2 bil­lion has been expended in the provision of additional infrastructure and instruc­tional materials, adding that since the inception of his administration, over N1.8 billion has been expended on the sponsorship of can­didates for various examina­tions, which include WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, NBAIS and UTME/JAMB.
Similarly, Ganduje said his administration has spent N4.5 billion on the feeding of 65 boarding institutions comprising 41 conventional secondary schools, 12 Sci­ence and Technical Colleg­es, three Boarding Primary Schools and 12 Tsangaya Schools.
Ganduje said his gov­ernment has spent over 632, 872.56 Euros in train­ing qualified students for Masters Degrees and PhD abroad.
According to him, the state government invested N3.4 billion in undertak­ing various projects ranging from construction of lecture theatres, classrooms, labora­tories, libraries, access roads, provision of furniture and fittings, infrastructural ma­terials to provision of ve­hicles.
The NCE said in the com­munique issued at the end of the meeting, that NERDC has commenced a nation­wide impact assessment study on the implementation of the nine-year Basic Edu­cation Curriculum (BEC) and the Senior Secondary education curriculum.
The communique added that NERDC has completed the process of dis-articulat­ing the History content from the Social Studies curricu­lum
The communique also stated that NERDC has commenced preparations for separating Christian Re­ligious Studies (CRS) and Islamic Studies (IS) from the Religion and National Values Curriculum of the re­vised nine-year BEC, saying that copies of the separated curriculum will be made available to schools in 2018.
According to the commu­niqué, the revised 34 Trades and Entrepreneurship cur­ricula shall be piloted in se­lected schools in nine states, just as it called for the can­cellation of the second in­terview test of the National Common Entrance Exami­nation conducted by the Federal Ministry of Educa­tion. It said the existing fa­cilities at literacy centres are not suitable for adults and do not support learning for people with special needs.
The communiqué further stressed the need to start pi­loting the NVQs particularly in areas where National Oc­cupational Standards have been developed and clas­sified, as well as the need for States participation in NVQs delivery for skills of the youth, pointing out the need to retrain lecturers in all faculties/schools and de­partments in tertiary institu­tions for effective implemen­tation of inclusive education in curriculum delivery.
Also, the NCE insisted that adequate funding, pro­vision of learning materials, equipment and structures are needed in Inclusive Schools, and underscored the efficacy of Service Learning Strategy (SLS), an activity-based co-operative strategy that is mainly proj­ect based, and that provides inclusiveness as well as qual­ity learning.
Source: www.authorityngr.com