FREQUENT CHANGES IN OUR EDUCATION POLICY A SOURCE FOR CONFUSION WITHIN THE SYSTEM
Sometimes one wonders if the policy makers of this country have a direction. Just as this situation applies to every aspect of our national life, it appears more confusing and directionless in the area of our education system.
Our education policies seem to emerge from the whims of our heads of states who know little or nothing about education or from our ministers of education who are not clear headed enough to appreciate the direction to which they plunge the country’s education system.
The Gowon administration announced the Universal Primary education programme which came into effect in 1976 even before our National Policy on Education was formulated. When Babs Fafunwan was minister of education of this country (1990-1992) he unwittingly scrapped core subjects from the curriculum of our teacher education programme at the NCE level. Thus such subjects as History and Geography were replaced with social studies while in the sciences, he replaced chemistry, physics and biology with integrated science. Of course, this was a country that was concerned about scientific and technological breakthrough. One wonders how these can be brought about through peripheral sciences. One also wonders how a nation can breed citizens who are ignorant of where they are coming from and yet, have a clear vision of their destination. It is therefore not surprising that there is a national outcry for the reintroduction of subject like History in our colleges of education as well as the need to make the study of History compulsory in all our education institutions. Of recent, it has become fashionable for each newly appointed minister of education to up with his own roadmap on education making the system unsteady and more confusing.
During the Obasanjo civilian regime, another education programme was launched. This is the Universal Basic Education Programme. By this programme, a child is expected to compulsory stay in school for nine (9) years continuously. This covers six years of primary education and three years of Junior Secondary Education. It is by the end of his 9th year of this continuous education programme that a child becomes subjected to the Basic Education Certificate Examination. This would mean that the Basic Education Certificate becomes every Nigerian Child’s first certificate to be obtained from our school system.
The unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in, is that, the Nigerian Education Community does not seem to understand the direction of this policy. As a result of this, our Higher education institutions’ continuous demand for first school leaving certificate, which used to obtain before the introduction of the Universal Basic Education Programme, has plunged both parents and the operators of our education system at the primary and secondary level into confusion? Another aspect of our education system which can be worrying is the indiscriminate introduction of new courses hereby, jam packing the secondary school curriculum resulting in scanty coverage or only brushing through the subjects in the curriculum in the need to ensure that every subject in the curriculum is touched, not necessarily, adequately covered to ensure a good grasp of what has been learnt.
There is also a proliferation of textbooks indiscriminately approved by our education policy makers, not necessarily because they are found to be good and adequate, but because the authors of such books have link with powers that be.
To stand our education system on its feet, our policy makers must put to a halt to frequent and rapid changes in policies. We should as a nation, give each education programme or policy a certain number of years so as we can test its efficacy or otherwise, before we replace it with a new one.
Education is the life wire of any society and it is a portent instrument for all aspect of national development. As such:
a. Education policies must be painstakingly formulated
b. Programmes carefully planned
c. Our policies and programmes must be so carefully articulated and explained such that no stakeholder should be left in doubt as to the end result. For example, are primary school Certificates still relevant with the introduction of the Universal Basic Education which makes it compulsory for a child to be subjected to unbroken instruction in the school system for nine (9) years?
It is therefore important to ensure that all stakeholders in education example the government, voluntary agencies, private proprietors of schools, and parents understand what is expected at every level of our education system.
Oji Joseph Ose (TK) Is A B. Edu. Economics, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State