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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The true cost of Educating Nigerians Abroad

A lot has been made about the number of Nigerian students studying in foreign universities and institutions. With our abysmal poor track record of keeping up to date and accurate data, finding such information would prove rather difficult. So I embarked on a mission to try and find out how many Nigerian students are studying abroad and try to work out roughly how much on average they spend to do so. Nigeria ranked third just behind China and India with about 16,680 for the number of students who came over to the UK to study in 2010. With an average fee of £10,000 + living expenses totalling about £19,000, Nigerian students in UK universities may have spent well over £316million. This does not include those studying in secondary schools and colleges. In the US, there are currently 6,500 Nigerian students studying in US educational institutions paying an average of $21,000 in fees + living expenses. If you do the maths, that amounts to about $136million (about £68million). In total Nigerian students spend a whopping sum of about £385 just under (N100 billion Naira).

Recent reports suggest Nigerian students may well be contributing about $1billion to study in Ghana if the accuracy of the report can be verified. These figures precludes Nigerians studying in all corners of the world, from Australia to Ukraine, to Canada, Ireland, Sweden etc. In truth we may never know the actual cost that Nigerians students contribute to other countries by choosing to study abroad. But what we do know is the cost may well match or even surpass our entire education budget which stands at 400biliion for the next financial year, for 2012.

It goes to show that education is underfunded and mismanaged in our country hence the reason why our students are leaving in droves to seek better education elsewhere. And who can blame them when what they've left behind is an educational system that is in dire need. It is dysfunctional and fails to inspire our young minds.

Like I've always advocated for in the past, we must adopt a bottom to top approach in restructuring education in Nigeria and not the other way round. By this I mean, we must look at investing in infrastructure and an adequate teacher education programme. We must make our schools worth attending again by putting education at the forefront of our desire to change and develop the present and the future of our country.

On a positive note, after months of pondering and wondering how to make a difference, I've decided it's time to embark on a campaign to revive the long lost reading culture in Nigeria and more importantly make books accessible to many Nigerian children which unfortunately isn't the case.  This campaign will be known as 'Give a book, save our future'.

The purpose of this campaign will be to collect as many used books donations as possible and redistribute it to those who really need them in Nigeria at no cost. The idea is to partner with some pilot schools in Nigeria where these books will be donated to school libraries (where they exist) so that students can have access to them and be encouraged to do so. If you're reading this blog and this is of interest to you, then please get in touch. I have already collected nearly a 100 ICT books that we were going to throw away but I had to keep them because I know they would be useful to those who need them. I'll provide further more detailed information about this campaign in the near future.

Together we can make a difference to the future of Nigerian children.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

1-6-3-3-4 or 6-3-3-4: Does it matter?

I read with utter amazement that the Federal Government has apparently announced plans to ditch the new 9-3-4 system of education and revert to the old system of 6-3-3-4. However, from what I understand it will come in a slightly modified version called 1-6-3-3-4. In simple terms, the 'new' system will just have an Early years element to it. It's amazing that it's taken our politicians and technocrats over 50 years to suddenly realise that early years education should become policy. However, we never fall short of coming up with bucket loads of policies but what has always being lacking is the politcal will, lack of funding or should I say its misapplication.

As an educationist and teacher myself, education is a very expensive business and changes in policy even cost more in terms of planning and for it to have an impact in the classroom. However, judging by our dreadful record in policy implementation, I fear this may yet become another wild-goose chase which sadly has turned our educational system into the shambles it has become over the years. There's no doubt, systems can always be improved but I do not think our current system of education is really the issue. The real issues are to do with poor infrastructure in schools, poorly trained and inadequate teachers which have grave implications for teaching and learning. And to make matters worse, they need a 30-man committee to implement this 'new' system. Educational policies are implemented by teachers via civil servants through local educational authorities and not by politicians and technocrats.

Sometimes I wonder why we choose to do things differently in Nigeria and ignoring what seems to be the obvious. Who stands to gain from this new policy? Is it the politicians or the average Nigerian child? I'm definitely sure it's not the latter but I'll leave you to make your minds up.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sliding down a slippery slope

Earlier in June this year, I wrote an article where I made some analysis about JAMB and the failure of public exams. This was prompted as a result of the fallout from the poor result which painted a grim future of how low our educational system has fallen. The results at the time showed that only 56% of the over one million students who sat for the exam did not manage to achieve the minimum 200 mark that is required to gain admission into Nigerian universities. Fast forward two months later and we have similar problems on our hands with the recent abysmal performance of students in the last May/June 2011 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, (WASSCE). A breakdown of the result showed that only 30 per cent of the candidates making credits in both English and Mathematics. Though an improvment of 5% from last year's record 25%. Details of the result also showed that the results of 81,573 candidates representing 5.29 per cent were withheld. The implications of the results would mean only a few students will have the necessary reuirements to gain admission into universities as most courses require candidates to have a credit in both English and Mathematics. However, we all know many more will gain admission nonetheless and there lies the problem of potentially drop in the quality of students entering universities.

Ok let me not bore you too much with facts and figures but in a country where students' performance in public exams is in freefall then what it shows is a reflection of ineptitude, poor planning and the all too familiar mystic of corruption that pervades our various insitutions. You add that to the failure of effective teaching and learning a consequence of lack of investment in the teaching profession down the years.

Without trying to sound like a doom's day prophet, I do worry for the future of the average Nigerian child and the future of the country itself. The word education is derived from the latin word  ēducātiō meaning (“a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing) but with poor performances like this I do not see any bringing up of the next generation of leaders in various fields of life anytime soon. This no doubt portends great danger for what lies ahead in a world where knowledge is not only power but at the heart of ideas that create wealth.

We need to start making things and turn away from being a consumer nation. But to make that shift we need an educational system that is well resourced, focussed and driven by high standards. When we start making things, that is what leads to industralisation and creates jobs which leads to more productive people and a happier nation. The future is no longer tomorrow, the future is now unless history will be very unkind to us.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

When 200 becomes 180

The number 180 may not mean so much to many people but would probably now mean a great deal especially to thousands of university seekers in Nigeria. This is because the Joint Admissions Matriculation and Exam Board otherwise known as JAMB has decided in its wisdom to lower the university cut-off mark for students seeking admission into Nigerian universities. When asked if this meant a lowering of standard, Prof Ojerinde who is the JAMB registrar disagreed by saying "it's not true, what we are saying is that the entry qualification in terms of senior secondary certificate examination must be the same. Prof Ojerinde, who is the first Nigerian Professor of Tests and Measurement, would surely know a thing or two about standards so it is rather surprising if the quotes attributed to him are accurate. Now let me make it absolutely clear I have nothing against young people striving to make it to university and realise their life long dream of a university education. I am a beneficiary of Nigerian university education, so it would be foolish for me to suggest so. However, I have a problem when we dumb down standards for the sake of accommodating more students who clearly failed to meet the minimum score to be considered for admission.

The University Matriculation Exam is an entry level exam that has historically set its cut-off mark at 200 out of a possible 400 score. A score of 200 is equivalent to 50%, so in effect what we are saying is that a student with less than 50% score is good enough to go university. Well I disagree with that notion. First, we have to decide if university education is for everyone and in my view it isn't. We have had this open door approach to university education in the last 20 odd years or thereabout and it has created more problems that solutions which university education are there to solve in the first place.

One of the reasons why cultism has strived in Nigerian universities is because there are far many young people who have somehow got themselves into universities but have no business being there. I experienced this first hand during my time in university back in Nigeria. Universities in Nigeria have become breeding grounds for all sorts of promiscuous behaviour with many young gullible female students as victims. Again made possible because most of them should be no where near a university but a system that encourages mediocrity has somehow allowed every individual who can buy their way get into universities.

Universities are places for serious academic work and research and only meant for those students who can handle the rigour and demands that it provides. Sadly, the heavy decline in standards over the years has meant the rigour and demands of academic work has gradually faded away with serious allegations that abound relating to money and sex for grades. This is not to say those who go to university are somehow superior to people who choose not to, far from it. What it means quite simply is that you must have some level of aptitude to academic work to be able to cope. To suggest that somehow this move by JAMB would not in any way result in a drop in standards is either being in denial of what is at stake or at best rather naive. So what if future UME exams produce worse results with fewer students scoring less than 180, would that mean another lowering of cut off below 180? If we keep lowering standards in this way, there is only one direction for education to move in Nigeria and that is down I'm afraid.

Rather than keep lowering JAMB cut-off marks which is an exercise in futility, all stakeholders in education needs to go back to the drawing board and find out the real reasons why our young people are under performing. Let me once again draw attention to some of the main issues that needs to be addressed that would help us move forward. These issues includes to provide adequate funding and ensure it targets local needs for local schools. Invest heavily in infrastructure and reform teaching and learning by restructuring the current teacher education and training. Until we fix all that is wrong in our educational system, performance in UME exams will only get worse and we may reach the stage where there is no more cut-off marks to be lowered.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Turning Talents into Teaching

As a frequent visitor to one of my favourite website forum for teachers in the UK, I recently came across a topic by a prospective trainee teacher posing the question, what makes a good teacher? As you would expect, the responses were varied but nevertheless thought provoking and in fact did make me to reflect on my own journey into the challenging but satisfying world of teaching. However, on reflection, I had to cast my mind back to my days in school and University to recollect those teachers that I held in high regard. I believe if I can understand what my teachers had about them perhaps it would help me answer the question. Top on the list is my primary school teacher, Mrs Bianeyin whom sadly I understand is longer with us but unable to confirm it as at the time of writing this article. I can vividly remember she had an authority about her but at the same time very approachable. She was passionate but also knowledgeable when she was teaching and I still remember one particular day when she taught us about what makes a good citizen in one of our Civics lessons. Until this day what I learnt in that lesson has had a profound positive impact on the way and manner I conduct myself.

Since over three decades I left primary school, you do wonder how many teachers of the calibre of Mrs Bianeyin are still about in teaching. There are two schools of thoughts about what makes a teacher; one school of thought holds the view teachers are born and another school of thought is of the view teachers are made. Put it this way, in my view some people have a natural flair for teaching and some people can be trained and educated to become good teachers. However, one of the reasons for the decline in educational standards in Nigeria is the unattractiveness to teaching. This was highlighted in a recent Aljazeera report on the state of education in Nigeria. It highlights the fact that a quarter of teachers in Nigeria are poorly trained and without adequate qualification. It reported about one primary school in particular in the Makoko area of Lagos where in a school of about 1,050 pupils, there were only 16 teachers meaning a ratio of 65 pupils to teacher. What has happened is that the student population has been allowed to grow without a corresponding increase in the training and recruitment of teachers to cope with this expansion. Then you add the increase in class sizes which further compounds the problem as in my experince no meaningful learning would take place in such an overcrowded classroom.

We have many university graduates who are aimlesly looking for jobs that are just not there and we could turn their talents into teaching. But before that happens the different teaching qualifications and routes to teaching needs to be first of all streamlined into one single qualification. Teacher education should be consistent across the whole country with a considerable element of teaching practice through school placements and some theoritical work carried out in university to inform practice.

The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria earlier this year developed a document with 84 standards by which teacher's professional expectations could be precisely assessed and measured. While I have some reservations to have 84 standards, I see it as a welcome development nonetheless but it should not remain as just another document in the long list of policy initiatives that never get to take off.

Good education can only be achieved with good teachers. The only way we are ever going to get good teachers is by incentivising prospective teachers with good remuneration and conditions of service on one hand and providing a rigorous teacher education and training programme on the other hand to train the next generation of teachers. We will be letting the next generation of Nigerian children down if we do not take urgents steps to address the crisis of teachers and teaching in our schools. Every child deserves a good education but even more so a good teacher to make this even possible.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

RE: Can Education be Free?

"It is no good making education free if learning is going to take place under trees or where resource materials like books, ICT are difficult to come by." The above statement is a line taken out of a previous article I wrote in response to Imo State Gov, Owelle Rochas Okorocha's flagship policy on free education shortly after he was sworn in as Governor. Less than two months after, news making the rounds reveal that the governor has disbursed N2.7bn to kick start his free education policy; each local government receiving N100 million naira each. The money as reported in one National newspaper will be used for the renovation of primary and secondary schools. This move is indeed commendable which no doubt if carried out to the latter would improve the learning environment and infrastructure where our children will learn.

However, there are still enormous challenges ahead, one of which is to assess the quality of teaching and learning in Imo schools. This could be addressed in two folds; looking at the way current trainee teachers are trained and what sort of training of current teachers have and are currently receiving. How robust are the training received in line with what is obtained in the developed world? What is the theory/practice ratio? What professional standards are teachers expected to meet to qualify as teachers? How adequate are these standards in developing the appropriate professional competence? What amount of funding is available to ensure training of the highest possible standards are provided? Imo State no doubt has in Alvan Ikoku College of Education, one of the foremost colleges of education in Nigeria. The question that needs to be asked is whether it is still living on its past glories or has it moved with the times in terms of educational research and the structure of its teacher training programme.

The Governor also needs to look at the remuneration of teachers which I believe don't get paid a lot. To attract the best brains to the teaching profession, its profile needs boosting and one way to do that is by increasing teachers starting salary with yearly increments. By doing so you can raise the bar and expectations for those intending to join the profession and standards would improve.

Equally important for the governor to consider is to look at what teaching resources are available in Imo schools which I guess would be in short supply. The reading culture needs to once again be rekindled with well equipped libraries with current books and literary materials in various subjects. The teaching of ICT as a discreet subject should be incorporated in the school curriculum if not already in place. It should also be used to support teaching across the curriculum and this could be achieved if this forms part of teacher training programmes in Imo state.

Above all, the education team in Imo State needs to look at the content of what our children are being taught to see that it's not just only in line with the National curriculum expectations but how relevant is it to an ever changing world. Whatever they do, it would be helpful to consult experts in the field of education and I'm sure there are Imo indigenes or even non-indigenes both home and in diaspora that have something to offer.

No doubt Gov Okorocha has started his passion for the education of Imo children on a good note but he will be judged by how far reaching this policy goes to affect those for which it was intended. The key is to ensure there is accountability at levels in the award of contracts, quality of work done in the renovation works and consultancy work that should be undertaken in policy formulation and review based on issues already highlighted about teacher remuneration and training.

If he does all this and even more then there's no doubt the impact will be felt for years to come if not for generations and he would be right up there with the likes of Dee Sam Mbakwe etched firmly in the history of Imo State.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

JAMB and The Failure Of Public Exams

The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board otherwise known as JAMB had last wek released its results for candidates seeking admission into Nigerian Universities. The poor results didn't come as a surprise to me; a worrying trend that has seen candidates' performance being on a downward spiral ever since I first sat for the exams myself over a decade ago. To gain admission into a Nigerian univesity, at least as I had previously known it to be, a candidate needs to score at least over the 200 mark something 56% of the over a million students who sat for the exams did not manage to achieve. It is also of utmost great concern that just under 3000 students which represents 0.2% of the entire candidates achieved a score of 300 and above.

So why are our young people increasingly doing so poorly in public exams in Nigeria? We need to first take a long hard look at what type of education is on offer in primary and secondary schools. As I write this piece, it has almost been impossible to get hold of what is called the new basic education curriculum for primary and junior secondary schools, launched in 2007. Four years after its launch, not even the Federal Ministry of Education's non-functional website can something as basic as the National curriculum document can be found ~ a topic for another day perhaps. However, from what I understand, the new curriculum will have an emphasis on voctional education and enterpreneurial skill. This is all well and good but the trouble is we are never short of good policy formulation but our biggest nemesis is to actually make it to work. The failure by successive governments to invest heavily in both infrastructure in schools; teaching and learning resources and more importantly a rigorous teacher training programme. The unattractiveness to teaching because of poor remuneration and other conditions of service has left the profession with a negative perception as one that is for people who perhaps didn't do well enough to go to university.

If you sum up all these issues coupled with corruption and ineptitude in the way our schools are run, it comes not as a surprise why many of our young people are failing because of an educational system that has failed and refused to reform. The decades of neglect has led to the chickens finally coming home to roost in the rot that pervades every aspect of education in Nigeria typified by the recent JAMB results.

We also need to ask ourselves if a test with only multiple choice questions by a single exam board is a true measure of the ability of students who end up going to university? Are the questions in line with what is being taught in schools? Do schools and Universities make any input in questions or at least the way they are set? There needs to be some deep soul searching by govt at all levels and they should begin to take steps to fix the mess that our educational system has become if we are to avoid headlines that portrays the educational underachievement that sadly our children have become known for.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Scandal of Private Education

I was having one of those moments whilst enjoying my half-term break, spending quality time with my family and reminiscing about my childhood days. I recollected time at my primary school, Pabod Model Primary school Port-Harcourt. I consider myself lucky to have been a recipient of state education at the time because it was a state school, yes, a state school! But it was a state school with high standards like many of its kind at that time something that sadly cannot be said of today's state run schools. Back then we had very good teachers who taught us very well, discipline was high and there was a healthy competititive edge about what we learned which helped bring the best out of each other. Above all, we enjoyed been at school which in itself was a motivation to do well. I strongly believe that my primary school laid a solid foundation to who I am today. I remember there was only one private primary school that I knew of at the time in Port Harcourt but we weren't far off in comparison to them in terms of standards but it is fair to say they were slightly better.

Since that time private education providers have multiplied in their hundreds and thousands but of what impact have they had on the quality of education in Nigeria? Let me first draw your attention to a recent news article on a National Newspaper about the Ondo State government's mission to close what the Commissioner for Education describes as sub-standard private schools. He disclosed that there are about 1800 private schools in the state and if you add that figure to the ones operating illegally the figure could rise to as much as 4000! This should be cheering news if all these so called private schools provide high quality education but worryingly they have become business centres setup by people who have no business in education and some have being turned into centres for exam malpractice. This problem is not peculiar to Ondo State because I can guarantee you the problem is widespread in other parts of the country.

But how did we get here in the first place? In any civilised society schools are established by law and in my understanding you need a licence to establish one which can only be issued if the would-be proprietors meet certain stringent requirements. It seems to me the process of obtaining a licence to set up a private school in Nigeria has been abused by those entrusted with the responsibilty.  This can only be possible by compromising the process which has been allowed to run riot for years with impunity. The other possible reason why we have this huge problem on our hands is the lack of a better alternative. State funded schools have been allowed to fail and not fit for purpose which has led many parents to seek better education for their children privately. This no doubt has fuelled the need and surge in private schools but in doing so has played into the hands of opportunists who have only helped in making a bad situation worse.

If we are serious as a country to provide quality education then governments at all levels need to improve standards of its schools. This should cover adequate infrastructure, appropriate teaching and learning resources and highly trained manpower. This needs to be done simultaneously by introducing a policy of re-licensing all privately run schools to ensure only those fit to provide high quality education to our children are left to operate ~ it is scandalous that a state in Nigeria can somehow have about 4000 private schools operating legally/illegally whilst a developed nation like the United Kingdom has only about 2500 well run independent schools. These schools should also be subject to periodic inspections to ensure they are operating within the highest possible standards. An independent agency separate from the education ministries and education authorities at all levels should be established to undertake this reform that is badly needed if our education system is to compete with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Can Education be Free?

The new Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha on his inauguration on May 29th at the Dan Anyiam stadium Owerri confirmed one of his key election promise to make education free at all levels in the state. The question though is that can education be truly free? The simple answer is yes, but some understanding of the concept of free education could help. Free education is primarily education that is funded by the state without the need for citizens to pay or make financial commitments. This financial burden is bourne by the state by way of taxation but in Nigeria let's face it the major source of revenue is oil not taxation. Quite a number of countries especially those in the developed world offer free education to its citizens but the interesting fact is that even some developing countries notably Sri Lanka can also match that. Sri Lanka is not a particularly rich country in terms of income when compared to Nigeria, depending mainly on exports such as textiles and apparel, tea and spices; rubber manufactures; precious stones; coconut products, fish but it boast of an income per capita head of US$1,972, the highest in south Asia despite 26 years of internal conflict. You do wonder why Nigeria with an enormous income from oil, its citizens are unable to enjoy free education at all levels, but that is a debate for another day.

Imo State earns about 2.7b Naira (about 32.4b annually) monthly from the Federation account (source: Federal Ministry of Finance). I would also like to think they get a reasonable amount from internal revenue. The question though is whether this amount is enough to achieve this key policy of the new Governor considering other sectors of the economy that will compete for this same amount? Well that is a question for Rochas and his team to answer as I would imagine they should have made a thorough assessment of expected income and how they intend to allocate these resources appropriately. This raises the issue of accountability which is at the heart of why we have been denied basic rights like free and quality education in the last 50 years. In my view education should be made free and compulsory to at least up to secondary education. The future of our country does not depend on the black crude underneath the sea neither does it depend on buying and selling of all manner of goods from the far east. The future of our country largely depends on the ability of our children to develop the dynamism and ideas for new businesses, enterpreneurial skills and new technology that will create wealth in an ever changing world. This will only happen with an educational system that is modern, well resourced and with a highly trained manpower to educate our children. It is no good making education free if learning is going to take place under trees or where resource materials like books, ICT are difficult to come by. This is a smart move by the Governor no doubt and history tells us that the legacy of leaders that have invested in education lives for generations after them. The late Obafemi Awolowo whilst Premier of the former western region gave free eductaion to his people and that in my opinion gave people from that region a leg-up in education to this day.

Imo State boasts of some good old famous schools notably St Augustines' Grammar School Nkwerre, St Catherine's Girls Secondary school Nkwerre, Holy Ghost College Owerri, Bishop Shanahan College Orlu, Girls Secondary school, Emekuku, etc. Sadly these centres of excellence have been allowed to rot and decay as a result of neglect. We can only hope that a populist policy of this nature would help mend the broken legacy of education and more importantly benefit our children for generations to come.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

What President Jonathan said about Education

It is exactly 00:50 am UK time early Monday morning. As you may imagine my whole household including my wife and two sons are all deep in their sleep. I had been trawling the Internet like I always do on the lookout for news about Nigeria to feed my ever increasing hunger for all things Nigeria. Even more so on this day we made history as a nation. For the first time we swore-in a president of minority extraction; a product of what many argue as the best election in our history.

I am not about to begin a political discourse about Nigeria as there are plenty of websites, social media and the Nigeria blogoshere that already provide insightful debate, news and articles that addresses the new wave of political consciousness amongst Nigerians. However, I have taken an instinctive decision to start this blog as a way to convey my very deep passion and thoughts about education in Nigeria. In a era of information consumption, I feel compelled to share my experience and knowledge about the education that works for our country. I do not claim to have all the answers but at least I can make a small contribution. Anyone reading this may want to take a pause and ask, what is your background that qualifies you to discuss all matters education in Nigeria? The simple response is that I am a product of Nigerian educational system having had my primary, secondary and University education in Nigeria, so our educational system is not alien to me. I am currently a secondary school Teacher in a UK secondary school having previously obtained a PGCE (Post Graduate Cert in Education) and Qualified Teacher Status. I am also halfway through a research project as part of my MA in Education dissertation.

Now President Jonathan has been elected, the clock has already started ticking and the countdown to what many Nigerians believe is a new dawn of transformation has already begun. I was looking forward to read the president's inaugural speech to see how he sets out his economic and developmental blueprint with my particular emphasis as to how it affects state education, which we all agree has been neglected and destroyed by previous governments. My hopes were dashed when having read through the 4-page document education was only mentioned twice. However, this wasn't the main issue but the real problem was that where education was mentioned it portrayed a lack of detail or specifics about what plans his government have for this very important sector. The same could be said for most parts of the speech in all honesty but I will leave that to other commentators to ponder. The first mention of education stated"We will create greater access to education" and the other mention of education stated "I will continue to fight for all citizens to have access to first class education". The common theme about the two statements is to do with access but you cannot have access to quality education if you do not have a strategy in place or at least tell us if you have one.

Since the speech fell short of telling us anything about what to expect in education maybe I could offer some suggestions. There are some challenges that this government needs to address for primary, secondary and higher education. I will go with the knowledge that local governments control primary education, state governments are responsible for secondary education and the Federal government runs federal universities. We focus so much on university education in Nigeria and tend to forget that primary schools are equally as important. There needs to be a massive programme of infrastructural refurbishment of all primary schools in Nigeria with both Federal and local governments partnering and adopting a model for development. A minister of local government should be appointed to be responsible for this partnership and also oversee all other local government related matters in the country. Secondly, teacher training programme needs a root and branch reform. Improve the remuneration of teaching professionals to march those in similar other professions thereby making teaching attractive. Consequently I will raise the bar for those aspiring to become teachers by merging all existing colleges of education with universities to ensure teaching is upgraded to a minimum of degree level profession. The content and context of provision needs to be reformed to ensure it adequately supports the curriculum with greater emphasis on classroom practice and an adequate theoritical programme that informs practice. Continuous professional development should also be an integral part of remaining in the teaching profession to ensure training doesn't just stop after qualification as a teacher.

On higher education, I will urge the president to put a stop to his recent promise of setting up more federal universities as I do not believe they are necessary. We can hardly fund the universities in existent and setting up new ones would only make the problems worse. I also consider state universities as luxuries as in my opinion no state government in Nigeria can fully fund a proper university even if they invest all their monthly allocation to their universities. But this is a matter of individual state governments' to decide. Another radical reform I would propose is to convert all polytechnics to vocational educational centres. This should be adequately funded to offer courses in motor mechanics, construction, hair dressing, tailoring, cookery etc to provide an alternative to academic pathway which universities provide.

Finally, even though we have a fairly new National curriculum, there needs to be a periodic review to ensure it is relevant in the 21st century. By and large you cannot grow any economy without a sound educational system that supplies the quality human resources and skilled manpower that is a pre-requisite for wealth creation. Education not oil remains the bedrock of our future development and prosperity and we cannot afford to let a whole generation of our children down anymore.