Way forward for our education sector

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A number of suggestions have been put forward by educationists, administrators and student leaders on what needs to be done to rejuvenate the nation’s education sector. To start with, the first nine years of education; Primary 1-6 and Basic 1-3, have been described as the most important level of education. A former Minister of Education, Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili, said this while delivering a lecture as the Convocation Lecturer during the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State’s 30th convocation ceremony while speaking on the topic: ‘Education Systems and Youth Development’.

She noted that education is the bedrock on which any nation could build a prosperous future, adding that without ‘access to this level of education at the foundational level, a nation may be heading for disaster by breeding band of criminals’. The lecturer advised that the first nine years of the foundational must be made inclusive, qualitative and accessible to all children, irrespective of their parents’ economic or social status, while she stressed that issues in education included needs of special education, non-formal and informal education, as the former Minister added that priority – in terms government attention and funding – should be given to these formative years of students at the foundational level.

She noted that government had always paid most attention to the tertiary education, which she said caters to about 4 per cent of those pursuing education, while less attention “is given to the foundational education where we have over 70 per cent of students”. The former minister said Finland, Singapore and South Korea had all got this right. She quoted a report, which indicated that nine out of 10 of African children do not attain a minimum level of literacy, as she called for “fiercest urgency to fix it”. Dr. Ezekwesili is also worried at the quality of education being offered at the foundational level, and the quality of teachers, who are employed to teach the children.

Meanwhile, staff of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta International School (FUNIS), have been charged to take a look at themselves and ask about their commitments and discipline towards the development of the school. The Chairman, FUNIS School Board, Prof. Christian Ikeobi, gave the charge in his opening speech at the staff retreat, organised by the management of the school, themed: ‘Stand Up, Let’s Build Together’. Prof. Ikeobi noted that the theme of the retreat was apt and important, adding that all hands must be on deck in rebuilding and taking FUNIS to a greater height. In his keynote address, the institution’s Registrar, Dr. ‘Bola Adekola informed that standing and building together through collaboration was a powerful force that could bring about positive change.

Dr. Adekola, however, noted that by recognising the value of collaboration and embracing cooperation over competition, FUNIS staff “can harness the collective potential of individuals and create a more inclusive, innovative, and harmonious world”. Delivering a seminar paper at the programme, the Director, Centre for Undergraduate Programmes, Federal College of Education, Osiele, Dr. Temitayo Akinyele, said educational managers at all levels should ensure the employment of the right quality and right quantity of academic and non-teaching staff, saying this would ensure proper placement of round pegs in round holes. Dr. Akinyele, who was represented by a lecturer at the Department of Business Education, FCE, Osiele, David Akinlabi, said there should be a functional synergy, between individual members of staff, departments, units and sections, noting that when staff and units synergise, there would be greater academic productivity.

Speaking on the topic ‘Reawakening and Repositioning FUNIS for Sustainable Progress: Issues, Challenges and Solution’, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Dawodu of the institution, enjoined everyone to join hands and work as a winning team, saying they must be determined to restore the lost glory so that the children would enjoy an amazing school where they learn independence, boldness, discipline, respect and dignity of labour. Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of the University students’ union, Hon. Justice Emmanuel Adegboyega, at the Judicial Summit 2023, with the theme: ‘Ensuring Equal Access to Justice for All: The Role of the Judiciary in Promoting Legal Rights and Opportunities for All Individuals’, disclosed that the 6th Judicial Council was able to bring the arm closer to the students.

He, however, reiterated that the mantra of the council was, ‘he who will uphold justice must be just’. Dr. Oluwakemi Fashina, who doubles as the Students’ Union matron and Vice-President of the body, stressed that the theme was quite germane, saying that it would sharpen the knowledge of FJC members. Also, the pioneer judge of the students’ body, Dr. Olabisi Hamza urged his colleagues to eschew violence by embracing dialogue, adding that they should be their brothers keeper and obedient servants of the institution. On his part, the union’s President, Comrade Habeebulahi Tijani, noted that the success of every administration was not the effort of the President alone, but that of the support given by other arms of government, as he urged them to channel their energy towards the building and development of their successors.