THE education sector received a boost last week as the Federal Government unveiled a draft three-year strategic education development plan aimed at propelling quality and affordable education at all levels.
The document, entitled “Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan 2016-2019”, is built on the successes of similar documents by previous administrations, especially the last one which expired
According to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who unveiled the plan in Abuja last week, the document is predicated on ten pillars. These include addressing out-of-school crisis, strengthening basic and secondary education, teachers’ education, adult literacy and special needs’ education, as well as education data and planning. Others are curriculum and benchmark minimum academic standard, technical and vocational education and training, quality assurance and access to higher education, information communication technology (ICT) in education and library services in education.
Adamu also explained that the document is derived from contributions and submissions from departments and agencies of the ministry, past experiences, interventions from development partners as well as thoughts and plans of the ministry. He further pointed out that the essence of the public presentation of the document is to avail the public the opportunity to critique and contribute to the plan, so that the government can come out with a richer final document that would be presented to the National Council on Education (NCE) later in the year.
We commend the Federal Government for making this education development plan public. It is good that it is a continuation of the nation’s previous educational development plans, especially the one that terminated in 2015.
We say this because the bane of educational planning in the country is lack of policy continuity and general implementation fatigue. We also commend the education authorities for deeming it appropriate to seek the views and input of educational experts and other members public in the document, before the final draft is tabled before the National Council on Education.
This plan for a new education development plan could not have come at a better time than now that all levels of the nation’s education sector are hampered by poor funding, dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate books and journals, as well as paucity of skilled manpower. The rot at the basic education level, especially the primary schools, is most pathetic.
Most of these schools are shadows of what they used to be in terms of staffing, infrastructure and quality of teaching and learning. Most public primary schools are not worth the name. Some of them have no roofs and qualified teachers. The situation is virtually the same in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. Our secondary schools also need urgent rehabilitation in terms of infrastructure, manpower and equipment.
The tertiary level is also beset with the problems of poor funding, inadequate infrastructure and manpower shortage. There is also the problem of proliferation of private schools without the requisite staff, equipment and funding at all levels.
Our universities are not among the best 500 universities in the world. Even in Africa, we are not among the leading institutions. That is why education tourism thrives in Nigeria. Nigerians now troop to Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo for secondary and university education. The most affluent ones send their children to universities in Europe and America.
It is good that this government is working to provide quality and affordable education for Nigerians at all levels. We enjoin all the stakeholders to carefully study the document and advise government on the best way to realise its objectives.
For us, the ten pillars itemized by the government are germane to giving Nigerians quality and affordable education at all levels, if the plan is well funded and implemented. We advise, too, that a lot of attention be given to teacher training and the funding of basic education.
If basic education, which is the foundation on which other levels of education are built, is properly funded and administered, students at the other levels will perform better if they are adequately staffed and funded. The education sector should be well funded for maximum impact. We should dedicate a higher percentage of our national budget to education, as is the case in advanced countries in Europe and America. Nigeria cannot achieve the desired educational development if we do not properly fund this sector. For a start, basic education should be properly funded and made free and compulsory in the country.