Wanted: Radical approach to fixing education system

Education

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The challenges of the education system, the focus of a two-day summit in Lagos had stakeholders from home and abroad discussing how the country could devise a new system that would serve it well. KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE was there. With over 10 million children out of school in Nigeria, poor level of teaching and learning in schools, inadequate number of qualified teachers, poor infrastructure, inefficient governance structure, and the attendant effects on the economy, stakeholders who gathered at the NEDIS Education Innovation Summit 2019 last week, debated radical solutions to the country’s education debacle. The crucial role of the teacher in the education space, the place of the child at the centre of learning as well as ideas of a system that makes the two parties work smoothly came into focus during the summit which featured 50 speakers, two keynote addresses, and nine plenary sessions at The Zone, Gbagada Lagos last Thursday and Friday. In addressing the theme: “Strengthening Education Systems; Delivering Effective Teaching and Learning,” senior government functionaries in the education sector, academics, teachers, regulators, researchers, innovators and others shared thoughts on various ways to make education work for the country. Dr Oby Ezekwesili led the call for a radical change of the current education system, arguing that what presently operates in the country could not deliver the kind of talent Nigeria needed to get to her next level. The former Education Minister under Olusegun Obasanjo administration said Nigeria’s education must evolve like it has happened in other parts of the world. She said all members of the society had roles to play in making the education system run properly. She said in an interview: “Attention has shifted to what the learner must learn in order that they can be the agency through which societal progress happens.  When you look at what has happened with the educational system in many societies including Britain which basically handed a certain kind of education system to us, you will realise that they have learnt historically that you must constantly change the purpose for which you are giving education to people. “So we as a society have to upgrade the way we think of education. Education has to be something that makes us think quality and relevance. If we are thinking quality, relevance, it then means the structure and system of providing education must undergo a complete overhaul because today, it is absolutely not in sync with the kind of learning that children of this generation and those that will follow them require to be a part of a competitive world.” To lift Nigerians out of poverty through education, Dr Ezekwesili said the education system must be able to deliver the kind of skills that can yield income. “When you look at education as the means through which people are lifted out of poverty, it then takes a completely urgent mandate as a society because we know that data shows we are now the world capital of poverty with some 93 million of our citizens in poverty. Education being the pathway to gaining competencies and skills and the cognition to be able to have agency for what you as an individual can produce as your income, when it eludes too many people, it leaves them stuck in poverty. “So the easiest pathway to conquering pernicious poverty is to make sure that we upgrade what education represents and provide the opportunity for people to access that level or component of education that gives them the capacity to be able to produce what can be exchanged to realise the income that lifts them out of poverty. So there’s the social progress of society, the economic progress of the individual that adds to the economic progress of the entire Nigeria,” she said. NEDIS Convener, Dr Modupe Awofesu-Olateju, said Nigerians were doing a lot in terms of innovations in the education sector.  She spoke of the need to collaborate on such innovations to achieve scale that could reach more teachers and learners and improve the teaching and learning process. “For us to build lasting innovating practices that are reaching many world children, it is important that we think deeply about how to systematically scale innovations that work,” she said. & Meeting learners’ needs Keynote speaker, Mr Tom Rudmik, speaking on: “Education needs transformation, how do we See and Create the 2030 Future of Education that Nigeria Needs?, said the current learners must be able to see the future Nigeria and begin now to create that future. He said Nigeria does not just need an improvement of its present system of education but a transformation to produce people who are future ready – ‘imaginal leaders’ who have a vision of a new future and can create it. Rudmik, who has written a book, Becoming Imaginal, to explain his model of empowering learners to create the future they imagine, and runs a school, Master’s Academy and College in Canada, where the model is in...

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