Mrs. Iyiola Olatokunbo Edun is the Executive Director of Grace Schools, Gbagada, Lagos. In this interview, she speaks on the nation’s education sector, suggesting ways to make it better. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the education system in Nigeria?
The education system in Nigeria has worsened since independence. While growing up, someone with Primary 6 certificate could teach. Graduates today are half-baked as some of them cannot communicate well in English. The quota system that is being adopted in the country is horrible. It guarantees admission for poorly performed students. Inadequate funding also affects the standard of education in the country. Infrastructural facilities are not improved upon by the government. Government must not just provide funding but must monitor and supervise the funds to ensure proper allocation and judicious spending. For instance, in the last 10 years, Rwanda has overhauled its education sector. 60% of private schools have closed down due to the excessive funding of the education sector by the government.
Government must not just provide funding but must monitor and supervise the funds to ensure proper allocation and judicious spending.
What should government do to support private schools?
Private schools have better facilities than public schools. Private schools are actually doing what public schools should be doing. There should be a strong partnership with private schools. Government should stop harassing private schools through excessive tax which has become a burden for private schools. For instance, what is the quality assurance policy about? Private schools boast more of solid facilities than public schools. All sorts of multiple taxes are being forced on private schools. All our infrastructures are provided by us and we have no water, neither do we get electricity from the government. Government should be more friendly in its approach to private education stakeholders. There should be more of partnership and collaboration between private educators and the government.
How can parents ensure proper academic excellence for their children?
Parents believe once they pay school fees, the school should take over completely. Parents should not abdicate their responsibilities to the school. Parents should try and create more time for their children. Depression is taking place more among the children. Children hardly see their parents at home. We have seen cases of drivers asking questions about home works for their bosses’ children. How can a driver suddenly become the one to be monitoring a pupils’ school work? Children blossom more when they are shown love. It is highly expected of parents to do more for their children beyond paying school.
In what ways can teachers be empowered to improve educational service delivery?
Teaching profession is not only about teaching students alone. It encompasses several things. Teachers need to develop skills set to enable them perform their roles effectively. The education system in Nigeria is at fault. Teachers need to be specialists in their own field. Teachers should not just be employed but tested on their competencies and capabilities.
There should be proper supervision of the education sector. Government should not only release funds but also monitor funds going to the sector.
How can the less-privileged be equipped to access quality education?
The less-privileged can be helped through sponsorship and scholarships to obtain good education. In our school, we have an annual indigent scholarship award and it is designed to provide succour for the less-privileged in the society. The annual educational scholarships to indigent students is to enable them have access to qualitative education regardless of their educational background. This is one area that the school becomes socially responsible by helping the less-privileged in the society.
In your own view, what is the way forward for the education sector in Nigeria?
There should be proper supervision of the education sector. Government should not only release funds but also monitor funds going to the sector. There should be specific projects to promote growth and spending so much on diesel while neglecting the core areas that can engender growth and development. Government should also focus on upgrading infrastructural facilities. The foundation of everything is important. It takes huge efforts to correct the fundamental errors. It should be noted that leaving primary education in the hands of local government is not appropriate as the office holders do not pay adequate attention to improve the quality of education.