Thursday, 28 March 2013

Soyinka, Amaechi, Call For Reformation Of The Nigerian Educational System

…Demands for Employment of 13,000 Teachers
Rotimi Amaechi and Prof. Wole Soyinka at the education summit
By Chioma Andy
Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Noble Laureate, Wole Soyinka and Prof. Ajo Banjo have called for a reform of the Nigerian system of Education during a two-day Rivers State Education Summit held on Monday, 25th March.

The summit which had the theme- “Enhancing Sustainable Development in Education” and held at the Banquet hall of Rivers Government House was to brainstorm for a way forward in discovering and enforcing an effective system of education for the entire people.

The host, Gov. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, spoke on the indispensability of education in the lives of all, adding that it was the right of every person to have access to quality education.
He also said that no governor should be applauded for providing an enabling environment for education, because it was a civil right.

“We should not politicise education. There is no room for politicisation of education. Nothing like, ‘see me I’ve achieved, I’ve built 20 schools, 500 schools, clap for me, give me more votes’, that is not what education is about. It is not a thing that anybody should gain votes from. It is a thing that is a right of every Nigerian.” Amaechi said.

He emphasised on the need for a free educational system especially at the primary and junior secondary level.
He added that building good schools and providing teachers were not enough, but providing good and qualified teachers to teach the students.

“When we were in Sacred Heart Primary School, we had teachers. When I was at Government Secondary School, Ebere Omuma, and Okolobiri, we had teachers. The schools may not be that beautiful but we had teachers and they were qualified teachers and they taught us. No teacher ever refused to come to class. Now you have businessmen as teachers and the reason for which you have that is that the current economy of Nigeria is in complete mess that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the same thing affects education. So if you have those challenges in life and there are people who are having those challenges, government can only do one thing – intervene. Where does government intervene? In education, health, water, but the key is that you must have education. If you are asked to pay for education and good health care, then all you are doing is afford the rich the same opportunity to continue to oppress the poor”, the governor pointed out.

The governor said that the Quality Assurance law which the Rivers State House of Assembly passed recently was one of the policies put in place for regular supervision of school activities to maintain set standards and to enhance educational growth in the state.

He therefore directed the state Commissioner for Education, Barr. Alice Lawrence Nemi, to issue employment letters to the 13,000 teachers who had already been interviewed for the job.
The governor said the primary education in his administration had been redesigned with appropriate curriculum content and qualified teachers to deliver the best to the pupils.

The chairman of the summit, Prof. Wole Soyinka, decried the poor educational standards in the universities in Nigeria with the associated problems of violence and cultism. 

Soyinka in his speech said, “If you don’t have a good university for learning, it doesn’t have idea of what brilliant professors in the world should be. The society that could behave in such a way in which affairs are managed in such a way that universities are reduced to mere jungles, and if the atmosphere of the environment is rotten you will just produce animals from universities. That is why I am very happy to be here to be part of any effort at all to resuscitate what our universities are and what they should be. To try and just brainstorm and to be very honest to find out just where things went wrong as the rotten tertiary university is trickling all the way down to secondary schools even to primary schools.

Prof. Ayo Banjo, while delivering his speech supported the governor in emphasising the importance of primary education as the foundation of the whole education system.
Banjo said that the two key to ensuring quality of education especially in the primary and secondary schools were retraining of teachers and supervision into the activities of the teachers, students and the school.

“Two measures that can ensure an effective workforce at both primary and secondary tiers are effective supervision and constant retraining of teachers. There was a time in this country when the ministries of education maintained a vigorous inspectorate division. The inspectors were so strict that they were a terror in the schools. The effect was that teachers were kept on their toes because they could never predict when the bogey-man would turn up. Headmasters similarly kept a strict eye on their teachers. It would appear that this era is now completely gone, and instead, one all too often hears of scandalous dereliction of duty, particularly in the primary schools, on the part of so-called teachers, who apparently have hardly any interest in teaching and guiding their pupils but are on a constant watch-out for a better-paid job elsewhere,” Banjo added.

He said that students’ poor performance in the school certificate examinations and unsatisfactory quality of many Nigerian university graduates could all be largely traced to poor primary education. He therefore solicited for effective supervision and constant retraining and good salary package for school teachers to advance educational growth in the country.

Alice Lawrence Nemi had earlier in her address pointed out that the state government had executed a number of education reform projects in the state.
She said that the summit was the third educational summit held that always provided eminent resource persons to deliver papers on education, and to come up with resolutions which when implemented would give Rivers children education that would make them fit into and adequately face the 21st century challenges.

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