One of the strong resolutions made at the recent national dialogue of the Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE) network was the need to drive a policy-based education, in place of politics-based education, which hitherto leaves much to be desired in the sector.
The resolution was made at the ‘Save Education In Nigeria Dialogue’, recently organized by the Concerned Parents & Educators in Lagos. The event, which held at Vintage Point Events Centre, Ikeja attracted hundreds of participants, including teachers, parents, students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as several other education stakeholders in the country.
The conference raised burning questions as to- ‘How do we reposition the Teaching Profession and the mindset of Teachers?’ How do we encourage parents to work hand in hand with schools to nurture and educate the Nigerian child? How do we create a curriculum that serves the need of the society? How will our children love to learn? There was also an interactive session with students on ‘How to change the attitude of young Nigerians towards organized knowledge as against immediate pecuniary gains?’
Delivering a keynote address on the importance of policy-driven education, Princess (Mrs.) Sarah Sosan, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, who also doubled as Commissioner for Education during her tenure, urged participants not to focus on the problems of the sector, but on providing solutions. She stressed that without education there would be no development, peace nor progress.
Princess Sosan maintained that education transforms lives, enhances development and helps society combat criminality, hence there is the need for Nigerian leaders to have the political will to upgrade the standard of education and increase the budgetary allocation at all tiers of government; even as they create a conducive and encouraging environment for international donors to do more in supporting education in the country.
While advocating for the creation of Specialized Learning Areas across the nation to ensure that Physically Challenged Children have access to good education, she also urged stakeholders to take advantage of Technology to improve on standard and ensure best practices.
Sosan further called for increased support for the Home Grown Feeding Program and encouraged all to ensure that it does not stop. Teachers, she maintained, need to be supported and encouraged to give their best, while unqualified teachers should not be employed in our schools, if truly we desire to bequeath quality education to our children.
Also speaking at the event was Mr. Rotimi Eyitayo, a development strategist, who spoke on the topic, ‘How to reposition the teaching profession and the mindset of teachers’.
Eyitayo also stressed the need for government to commit to policy-based education, warning them not to politicize the sector or use the platform to promote their personal political agenda.
While urging teachers to adopt a class code and develop the right message, which should serve as score card for education development, he also appealed to them to carve a new identity and bridge the exposure gap across the states, adding that there is need to showcase and export experts in the profession the same way medical experts are being exported abroad to showcase our lofty initiatives, earn big and do Nigeria proud.
Praise Fawowe, who spoke on ‘How to encourage parents to work hand in hand with schools to nurture and educate the Nigerian Child, maintained that one of our greatest challenges today is that many people lack perception goals.
According to him, there is need to define who a Nigerian Child is and what discipline should entail. “We need to understand the Nigerian child needs to be able to draw the right curriculum. To achieve this we must elect the right leadership who will appoint the right Minister of Education. That is when Nigeria can have the right education curriculum.”
Fowowe charged parents to identify their children by being more actively involved in their performance at schools as well as their relationship with teachers and peers.
Dr. Ifueko Thomas, who examined ‘How to create a curriculum that serves the need of the society’, stressed that a society is as good as its school curriculum. According to her, “Presently, Nigeria does not have a curriculum, but a list of subjects.”
She insists that “a curriculum must be relevant and worthwhile and therefore called for a Nigerian curriculum that would be drawn up through feedbacks from relevant stakeholders, including medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers etc.
Dr. Thomas noted that all stakeholders must be involved in changing the curriculum of the country, as that is the only way the emerging curriculum will be relevant to the society.
To wrap up the dialogue, Mr. Johnson Abbaly examined ‘How we can change the attitude of young Nigerians towards organized knowledge as against immediate pecuniary gains’.
In his remarks, he stressed that there is a thin line of demarcation between the rich and the poor as they are neighbours to each other and live side by side, sharing borders. He therefore stressed the need for Nigerians to pay attention to the culture that raises streetwise children and see how their attitude can be changed for good.
Furthermore, Abbaly stressed that there is need to address cultural differences in our society because Nigeria’s culture puts more emphasis on instant gratification.
While urging participants to work towards changing such culture, he noted that emphasis should be placed on teaching wealth creation, not poverty alleviation.
The national dialogue came to a close with the firm resolution to push for policies and actions that promote total transformation of the education sector in Nigeria and puts our children at a vantage position where they can compete favorably with their counterparts from other climes.