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.