Sexual harassment dominated the education sector in 2018. Prof Richard Akindele of OAU was sacked and sentenced to jail over a sex-for-marks scandal.
Gabriel Dike, Lagos and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Stakeholders are of the view that the way the leaders of the country perceive education, its objectives and functions have influenced the management, planning and organization of the education system.
Many stakeholders have described the education sector in the year under review as one full of uncertainty, failed promises, policy inconsistency, sexual harassment and abduction of school pupils by Boko Haram resulting in the decline of the sector.
In the 2018 budget was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 20, 2018, N8. 6 trillion was proposed out of which N605.8 billion was allocated to education sector. The delay in the passage of the budget slowed down activities in the sector.
Agencies and parastatals in the Federal Ministry of Education made individual and collaborative contributions that either helped to improve standards or otherwise.
Unarguably, some of the agencies were found missing in action or had performed below expectations. As expected, some agencies had corruption cases which affected their integrity and operations, resulting in either the suspension of the chief executive or other punishment. Some of the agencies and parastatals recorded impressive performance that could be testified by Nigerians. Some went as far as beating the records set by their predecessors’ decades ago.
FEDERAL MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Ministers of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Prof. Anthony Anwukah, alongside the Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono, piloted the affairs of the ministry to the best of their ability.
The annual National Council on Education (NCE) meeting successfully took place in 2018 in Abuja. It was the highest decision making body for the education sector in Nigeria. They extensively discussed issues of education and how best to make significant progress.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was one of most mentioned government agencies in 2018. It was in the news for good and bad reasons. As usual, it prepared and conducted the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
The news of a mystery snake that swallowed N36 million in its Benue office also drew global attention. It generated lots of reaction on the social and conventional media. Comedians and musicians took the advantage to create content. In Kano, Edo and Yobe states, the JAMB Coordinators could not account for N20 million, N15 million and N20 million respectively.
Amidst that and other discoveries in several states by its audit team, JAMB was able to successfully conduct the UTME for over 1.6 million candidates and results released at the appropriate time.
Just like the previous year, JAMB remitted N7. 8 billion to Federal Government, as revenue generated from sales of UTME forms and other sundry services. The board, however, ended the year with directive from the Presidency to slash the cost of UTME form from N5,000 to N3,500 with effect from 2019.
The National Examinations Council (NECO) in April, conducted common entrance examination simultaneously across the country for no fewer than 80,000 school pupils.
It also conducted the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) for SS111 students across the country which was successful.
In May, 2018, education minister, Mallam Adamu, announced the suspension of the Registrar, Prof. Charles Uwakwe, for alleged misappropriation of funds and involvement in corruption related cases. The most senior director in the council, Abubakar Gana, was asked to assume the position as acting registrar.
Months after, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Echono, told journalists in Abuja, that report of the committee set up by the governing council revealed massive corruption in the council.
“The corruption might not have been supervised by the suspended NECO Registrar but he had all the opportunity to make adequate corrections. Notwithstanding, the findings centered on scratch card and that forced the committee to invite government agencies like Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and some others for professional input.”
For the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), it was a busy and fruitful year. The Registrar, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, alongside the management continued their reinvigorated campaign to push out “unregistered teachers” from the classrooms by the December 2019 deadline.
It conducted Professional Qualifying Exam (PQE) for teachers. The first was conducted in June for over 22, 000 teachers, while the second exam took place in October for over 17,000 teachers. It also continued its “on graduation” induction for graduates of education courses in universities, for easy certification.
The National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) intensified campaign to win the heart of Nigerians, and make them understand the importance of technical education and certification and its equivalent to other O’level certificates.
Its Registrar, Prof. Ifeoma Isiugo-Abanihe, had a running battle with the former governing board Chairman, Prof. Leonard Kashima Shilgba, who assumed responsibility beyond his powers, dishing out orders and taking steps outside his statutory roles.
Shilgba was said to have exhibited high handedness, interference in the day-to-day running of the board, illegal contract award and several others. He was said to have gone as far as suspending the registrar and some senior directors without the knowledge and approval of the minister of education. The board was later dissolved by President Buhari, through the minister.
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), a lot of activities took place at the headquarters of the fund in Abuja. But there was no major event outside the ordinary that could have attracted local and international attention. Most of its works centered on its primary responsibility of disbursing funds to benefiting institutions and monitor how such funds were used.
Nothing was heard from the agency as regards disbursement of intervention fund to benefiting institutions. The last of such information was released on February, 2017, when its Executive Secretary, Dr. Abdullahi Baffa, announced that President Buhari, had approved the 2016 intervention of N213 billion to benefiting tertiary institutions.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) used to be bubbling and active under the leadership of the former Executive Secretary, Prof. Julius Okojie. But it went on official slumber under the current Executive Secretary, Prof Abubakar Rasheed. It only succeeded in organizing sensitization and reorientation meetings for staff, institutions’ managers and other stakeholders.
The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) undertook a major project in 2018. It was the National Personnel Audit (NPA). The project was critical to basic education development in Nigeria. The objective was to take a census of basic education facilities and personnel so as to have proper knowledge and information needed for policy formulation and implementation.
UBEC Executive Secretary, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, disclosed that its officials visited 64,680 and 51,113 public and private primary schools respectively. And also visited 13,122 and 17,734 public and private junior secondary schools respectively.
He said the outcome of the project was delayed due security and logistics challenges encountered in Bayelsa and Plateau states. Nevertheless, he said the result will be made public by February, 2019.
The National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), completely went on “official slumber” in 2018. The Executive Secretary, Prof. Bappah Aliyu, chose to remain and operate from the comfort of his office, which unarguably added nothing to the development of colleges of education, which are responsible for the training of basic education teachers.
The National Library of Nigeria (NLN), its Executive Secretary, Prof. Lenrie Aina, continued his states tour and visit to various stakeholders to promote reading culture using the platform of the National Readership Promotion Campaign.
He observed that over 70 percent of publications by government agencies do not have International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).
Prof Aina said the absence of ISBN and ISSN could affect global acceptability of the books, and encouraged authors to acquire the numbers so that their books could be reached beyond the shores of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) took a giant step in 2018 that generated positive and commendable reaction from Nigerians. It was the reintroduction of history studies in primary and junior secondary schools.
The disarticulated history curriculum was launched alongside teachers’ guide for guidance of history teachers on how best to administer the knowledge to students.
The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the disarticulated document would expose students to knowledge that will enable them appreciate history as an instrument of national integration and nation building. He believed it will deepen positive understanding of traditional values and identities, as well as similarities and differences between different Nigeria ethnic groups.
The National Mathematical Center (NMC) and its officials practically went on official slumber in 2018. Some of the officials complained of paucity of fund, which they claimed affected their activities in the centre.
They were however optimistic that 2019 will offer good opportunities for the centre to properly champion the course of mathematics in Nigeria.
Prof Abba Haladu, who currently heads the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC) obviously seem not be aware of the huge responsibility of the commission towards improving literacy level of Nigerians. Not much was heard from the commission in spite of several financial and logistics interventions by local and international partners.
Some staff of the commission who pleaded anonymity promised to mobilize against the Executive Secretary, Prof Haladu, in 2019, if he fails to re-introduce life to the commission.
Not much was seen or heard from the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE), unlike in previous year when it made great success in providing formal education to Fulani nomads who move from one part of Nigeria to another in search of greener grasses to feed their cattle.
OTHER LANDMARK EVENTS IN 2018
The federal government ignored calls by stakeholder to declare a state of emergency in the sector as result of the decline and rot in the system. The government also promised to convoke a summit on the education sector and the ministry of education failed to do so.
Boko Haram on February 19, 2018 abducted 110 school girls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state between the ages of 11-19 and some were released in March. Leah Sharibu remains in captivity because of her refusal to convert to Islam.
The year under review experienced strikes by university, polytechnic and colleges of education lecturers. The year ended with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) still on strike after the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) suspended it industrial action in December. As ASUU strike entres the ninth week, the union has demanded the federal government sack Dr. Wale Babalakin as chairman of renegotiation committee.
YEAR OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Sexual harassment dominated the education sector in 2018. Prof Richard Akindele of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was sacked and was recently sentenced to jail by a court over sex-for-marks scandal. Prof Segun Awonusi in English Department, University of Lagos, Akoka, was accused by a female student and his semi-nude pictures were splashed online. The case is still on ongoing. The Governing Council of Lagos State University on October 6, 2018 terminated the appointment of three senior lecturers for sexual harassment of female students in their departments. The three lecturers were Dr. Sunkanmi Odubunmi, an Associate Professor in Department of Economics, Dr. Isiaka Ogunwande, also an Associate Professor in Department of Chemistry and Dr. Emmanuel Gbeleyi, a lecturer of Anatomy, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja. At Federal College of Agriculture (FCA), Ibadan, a senior lecturer, Mr Femi Aremu was accused of sexual harassment and extortion and is currently facing trials. The Governing Council of Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State terminated the appointment of a senior lecturer in the Department of Geology, Dr. Omananyi Yunusa Adinoyi for sexual harassment against a female student.