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Nigerians seek lasting solutions to education crisis at NAS event

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CONCERNED Nigerians across the country meeting on Saturday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, have again sought quick, but permanent solutions to the challenges bedevilling the education system in Nigeria.

Worried by the falling standard of education and intractable conflict in every part of the country, the group called for urgent intervention by all stakeholders, especially the Nigerian government at all levels, asking them to promptly fix the broken education system before it is too late.

This conversation was held at Sheraton Hotel Abuja during a symposium organised by members of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Abuja chapter.

The annual symposium, also called Feast of Baracuda, is one of the cardinal public interventions aimed at creating a platform for enlightenment and knowledge sharing on burning contemporary issues.

NAS President worldwide, Abiola Owoaje, noted that fixing Nigerian education is a task that must be taken seriously if Nigeria must prevent future conflict.

He expressed concern about the huge number of children that are still kept out of school.

National Bureau of Statistics has estimated the number of out-of-school children to be over 10 million, the highest in the world.

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The chief host and Abuja chapter President of NAS, Victor Ofili, stressed a similar viewpoint in his opening address.

Ofili said conflicts in all regions of the country have further worsened the challenges faced by Nigerian children of school age, and this is the reason the 2021 Feast of Barracuda’s lecture is titled: Education in Times of Conflict: The Nigerian Experience.

Though the factors responsible for the Nigerian education problem are many, the keynote speaker, Abdul Mojeed Dahiru, identified critical ones which affect education in the entire country.

The list includes outdated curriculum, policy inconsistency, low education budget, poor education infrastructure and incessant teacher strike among others.

These challenges are further confounded by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, banditry in the Northwest and IPOB unrest in the Southeast.

“The situation in our education was already depressing before the conflicts in northern Nigeria and other regions,” he said.

To address this problem, Dahiru proposed the deployment of modern technology as a way of facilitating education, even during conflict and urged NAS to lead the advocacy.

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His ideas and proposals were examined by panel members constituted by an educationist and Assistant District Governor Rotary D9125, Olajumoke Ekehinde; renowned journalist and activist, Agba Jalingo; policy analyst, Dr. Maryse Ogounchi and a lecturer from the  Department of History and Diplomatic Studies University of Abuja, Dr. Tochukwu Okeke.

Ekehinde, who has encountered children from internally displaced person’s camps and saw the limited opportunities available to them to acquire basic education due to poverty, argued for a system of education that is inclusive.

She said those children like other children deserve to be educated and the state must make provisions to cater for their educational needs.

She however called attention to the importance of psychosocial education for such children.

According to her, many of the children she interviewed at the IDP camps wanted to become either a soldier or policeman so that they could revenge for the death and the brutalisation meted out to their parents and siblings.

“There is a need to reset the mindset of these children,” she said.

Jalingo takes a more radical approach to reforming education in Nigeria. For him, the current model of education is dysfunctional because it is a system that fails to deliver the skills and competencies required to function in the modern world.

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Jalingo said there is a need to redesign the system of education in Nigeria.

According to him, the current 6-3-3-4 model is not working. And if Nigeria continues with it, the country cannot experience development.

“Education is meant to solve problems, if it is not, we will continue to have graduates who cannot deliver, and nothing will change.”

Dr. Ogounchi, an expert in Governance and Regional Integration, canvassed for education sponsorship.

Drawing on her experience from Benin Republic, she said the idea of individuals supporting a child in need through schools could go a long way in addressing some of the education challenges facing Nigeria.

In his critique of the Nigerian education system, Dr. Okeke submitted that its structure and process are still largely colonial.

He argued that such a system of education does not train the mind to be critical or seek solutions to problems, but to merely take instruction.

This approach to education serves the interest of the colonial masters because it allowed them to continue their dominance on the colony, he noted.

“Read and remember, that is the education that we got from the colonial master, and that system of education continues till today.”

He urged the government and policymakers to throw away the current educational curriculum because it cannot deliver education that is useful in the future

Unlike Jalingo who disparaged education offered in organised institutions of learning, Okeke argued that quality university education is necessary for the functioning of society.

The speakers, however, are unanimous in their views that Nigeria education system is broken and needs to be fixed quickly.

They submitted that the Nigerian government needs to develop an education system that serves the interest of Nigerians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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