What happened to the Minister’s Ten Pillars of Nigerian Education Reform?

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, while hosting the governor of Niger state at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education was reported in the press to have said he plans to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s education sector in the month of April. The statement by the Minister is in contradiction of the Minister’s statement in the much publicised Ten (10) pillars of education reform interview he granted to Channels TV in 2016. In the interview the Minister specifically stated that the Federal Ministry of Education under his leadership was conducting its “needs assessment” which would influence the direction of the actions that the federal government would take with respect to the issues that relate to policy, management and provision of education in the country.

From the transcript of the Ten Pillars of Nigerian Education Reform interview, the Minister said

The road map has ten (10) pillars on which we built it and these are the areas in which we believe progress needs to be made, and these pillars are the most important areas. The first is Out-of-school children. You know Nigeria leads the whole world in highest number of children who are out-of-school, 11.5 (Million). After it we look at Basic education. Which is an area that has fallen on very, very bad times and needs to be revamped.

Then, we have the area of Technical – Vocational Education and Training. If Nigeria wishes to join the developed world and be able to compete on the global scene, certainly we need to do something about our technical education and we look(ed) at it and we have put so many activities (together) that we will do in order to catch up with the rest of the world.

There is The Development in ICT. The whole world has already gone computer(ised) and Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind. So, we intend to introduce computer technology in our classes.

The question of Teacher Education, that one, I think we’ll say – teacher education, teacher education, teacher education – is the most important to me or to the plan…

Hence, he specifically mentioned five pillars out of the the said ten pillars. However, a review of these five pillars out of the ten pillars shows that there have been more misses. For instance, on the issue of the out-of-school children, nothing seems to have changed for the better, rather it appears from the most recent data that the situation has gotten worse from the initial 10.5 Million out-of-school children in the country to a more recent data of 11.5 Million which the Minister rightly highlighted in the interview.

Unfortunately, a key programme – the school feeding programme – of the present government that has been able to attract the enrolment of more children into public schools at the Basic education level has been plagued with the perennial problem of funding. This has led to inconsistency in the outcomes of the programme in different parts of the country; with the most unfortunate scenario being the abandoning of such a lofty and successful programme by a state like Kaduna state due to lack of fund to implement it as a result of an unexpected high demand than envisaged by the Kaduna state government.  a new report recently released indicates that due to the present government’s policies 10.27 Million children enrolled in public schools in the North West and North Central zones of the country, excluding data from Kebbi, Jigawa and Benue states. However, because the issue of the out-of-school children in the country and the provision of the Basic education are tied together, it suffices to say that the Minister has not been able to deliver on two of the ten pillars.

As for teacher education, the Federal Government under the N-Power programme promised to recruit 500,000 teachers but as at the last count the government has being able to recruit 200,000 volunteers under its two years N-Power volunteer programme , and this gives a deficit of over 300,000 teachers (60%) of the total target since all the recruited volunteers are not only in the teaching cohort of the programme. Although, in recent times, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) was able to successfully increase the number of registered teachers in the country but the issue of teachers’ professionalism with respect to continuing professional development, training and education still remains a major issue in the education sector.

On the issue of vocational education and training in the country not much has been done and the sector remains grossly underfunded with no well-defined career pathway/s for individuals that decide to take to the vocational education and training route. Lastly, is the issue of ICT in education, as mentioned by the Minister. However, it seems like a white elephant project that the government would probably not embark on, especially in an education system that lacks so many basics in its provision along with its unbelievably high number of un-met needs. So, the Minister need not look too far or wait till April before he declares a state of emergency in the country’s education sector, rather he should critically appraise his tenure’s 10 pillars and move on from there.

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