President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the new heads for 17 agencies under the Federal Ministry of Education signals a breath of fresh air in that vital sector of our national life. The new helmsmen have met with the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who briefed them on their new roles and charged them to make a big difference in the sector.
Those appointed are Professor Abubakar Rasheed, National Universities Commission (NUC); Dr Hameed Bobboyi, Universal Basic Education (UBEC); Professor Ishaq Oloyede, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB); Professor Charles Uwakwe, National Examinations Council (NECO); and Professor Chinyere Ohiri-Aniche, National Institute of Nigerian Languages.
However, the change of guards did not affect four agencies and their heads. Those retained are Professor Samaila Junaidu, Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC); Professor Rauf Adebisi, Nigerian French Language Village; Professor Masud Kazaure, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE); and Professor Muhammed Mu’az, National Arabic Language Village. It will be recalled that not all the heads of the changed agencies have served out their tenures. While we acknowledge the President’s power to hire and fire, we hope that enough care was taken to ensure continuity.
The avalanche of agencies in the education sector shows that the problem is probably not the absence of policies but the will to implement them. There may also be the lack of political will to fund them adequately to achieve their set goals.
It is public knowledge that the problem with the education sector over the years is poor funding. It is this problem that the government should tackle forthwith.
We strongly believe that those in charge of the Ministry of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, Prof. Anthony Anwuka and the new helmsmen of these agencies are well equipped to confront the myriad of problems of the sector.
They must grapple with the problem of over 10 million out-of-school children, the neglect of girl–child education, training of teachers and, making the teaching profession very attractive.
The challenge before the current heads of the agencies and their management teams is therefore not easy. They should think out-of-the-box to solve the problems of the sector. We believe that the Federal Government will give them ample room to apply new thinking and innovative solutions. With the paucity of funds, we urge them to seek collaborations and partnerships with the private sector. But, the government must provide the enabling environment for it to be achieved.
We expect the new heads of these agencies to tackle seriously the problems that have dogged their various organisations. The JAMB for instance, has been in the news lately, and not all for complimentary reasons. The recent policy flip-flop over admission matters is not good for the education sector.
We expect no less from Professor Ohiri-Aniche of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages. The body charged with the responsibility for promoting the study of our indigenous languages must ensure that these languages do not go extinct. She must find new ways to rekindle interest in the study and use of our indigenous languages, especially among the young ones. These languages preserve our cultural mores and values. They should not be allowed to die. We enjoin all the heads in the education agencies to work as a team. Working as a team will make them achieve great success for the country. We wish them well as they propel this sector to the desired heights.