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High expectation of education minister

With the much anticipated swearing-in of government ministers last week, it remains to be seen whether or not the All Progressives Congress (APC) policies on…

With the much anticipated swearing-in of government ministers last week, it remains to be seen whether or not the All Progressives Congress (APC) policies on education will be translated to laudable initiatives. The government’s goals and targets are expected to stimulate actions that will increase best practices and effective schooling in the short run.
Malam Adamu Adamu, the new minister of education, is expected to conduct a comprehensive review of the ageing policies and practices in the education system as well as carry out broader examination on how the system could meet the need of Nigerians.
Tackling infrastructure decay has been a source of concern to authorities, and succeeding governments have designed rosy policies meant to address the problem yet it persists. The new minister is expected to, at least, lead the nation in providing solutions to the myriad of problems.
An Abuja-based female journalist said most of the public schools in the country were “plagued by crumbling buildings that threaten the health safety and learning opportunities of students. The problem of inadequate classroom furniture still persists even in tertiary institutions and millions of students especially at the basic level sit on bare floors to take lessons. Inadequate furniture in class makes pupils to sit for a whole day on the floor which will eventually lead to health disorder such as musculoskeletal pains. In fact even in places  where there are chairs and desks for students; they need to be evaluated periodically.”
She said a new reform strategy must be adopted by the federal government to ameliorate decaying school facilities with a view to achieving quality learning environment. 
Low school enrolment had been identified in rural communities and the number of out-of-school children of primary school age as well as out-of-school adolescent of lower secondary school age has continued to leapfrog. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report Index, 2011-2012, Nigeria was ranked 140th out of 144 countries in primary education enrolment. Enrolment of children into schools is as low as 12.0% in some states. Six million of 36 million girls out of school world-wide are Nigerians. Culture and religion were reportedly the major determinants in low enrolment in the northern part while poverty and low level of awareness are common factors. The new minister is expected to tackle the problem.
Teacher quality has strong impact on achievement than school facilities but the persistent problem of lack of quality and experienced teachers in schools, mostly at the basic level is causing serious hurdle in impacting effective education to school children. This problem coupled with shortage of teachers in sciences had almost become undefeatable to governments at all levels.
National Coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Comrade Hassan Taiwo Sowe at an event in Lagos in 2014 said that “Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that has had to launch a boy-child education campaign – launched by the Federal Government in the South-East in June 2012. In 2008, Kwara State tested 19,125 teachers in Primary Four Mathematics; only seven teachers attained the minimum benchmark for the test in Mathematics. Only one of 2,628 teachers with degree passed the test; 10 graduates scored zero. The literacy assessment recorded only 1.2 per cent pass.”
The minister said at the public lecture on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebration of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) recently in Abuja that the public outcry on teacher quality was worrisome and called on the commission to effectively monitor teacher training. He said teachers must be upright and honest.
A lecturer in the Department of Education Foundation, Federal University Dustin-Ma, Dr. Kabiru Kafur, said there was huge sense of relief and satisfaction after the appointment of Adamu as minister, adding that he “was an education commentator and observer.”
 He said the new minister is expected to provide lasting solutions to the numerous problems facing education and that there was the need to pay more attention to ‘training and retraining’ of personnel. He said thousands of students were forced out of school by insurgents in the North-East region while hundreds of schools were destroyed. He called on the minister to ensure that the schools were reconstructed and commenced full academic activities in earnest.
Also, all the outstanding benefits of university lecturers including allowance should be paid, he added.
Dr. Kafur, who is also the president of Association of Private Schools said private schools must be supported by the government and donor agencies to complement public schools, which were mostly overcrowded.
The president of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) Chibuzor Asomugha said the higher education sector had to be transformed and adequately funded.  He said the recommendations on the NEEDS assessment to public polytechnics must be taken care of.
Malam Adamu Adamu who resumed work on Monday met with Permanent Secretary, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan and directors and said government will address the problems with the public education system including underfunding, poor infrastructure, poor enrolment and access.
He said,“The Ministry of Education, under my stewardship, will confront these problems with all the seriousness, commitment and strong political will to ensure that we address them once and for all. Allowing these problems to persist is akin to surrendering the fate of our country to ignorance, something we cannot afford to do.” He urged the ministry’s officials to be receptive to new ideas and offer useful information and suggestions to their superiors.
The minister also pledged to show utmost respect to civil service regulations and improve staff welfare systems.
He warned against any act of indiscipline, indolence and corruption.

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