By Ahmad Sajoh


The Nigerian Education ecosystem is witnessing a change for the better.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made it very clear right from the onset that his presidency understood that education is the real catalyst for National development. One year after, the progress made in the education sector had been tremendous. Though a lot them are intangible but their impacts are real. Education and knowledge sharing are among the most dynamic aspects of human development. Core knowledge today could become obsolete tomorrow. However, the Tinubu government commitment to quality and access to all are constant. Thus, ending out-of-school children syndrome and providing enablement are key to President Tinubu’s inclusive education template. The Students Loan scheme is a bold step by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure that every eligible child gets quality higher education in Nigeria no matter the circumstances of their birth. It’s launch is not only historic but revolutionary. Children who would have been deprived of access of quality tertiary education will surely be availed such opportunities under the Students Loan scheme.

In order to drive the education sector effectively, Mr. President realized that delegating his mandate in that sector requires a driver that will drive it with the precision of a pilot. Thus, in appointing the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education, the president looked for a committed academic from the University as the Minister of Education. If there is a man presiding over our education system that fits the bill, it is indeed the current Minister Prof Tahir Mamman, SAN CON. His entire professional life is spent on promoting learning and knowledge sharing. And because he is a professional in the true sense of the word, he came to the Ministry with a mindset that believes ” *Education without Skills is incomplete”*

Working on the Matching orders of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Prof Tahir Mamman set out to actualize the ” *Education roadmap of the Renewed Hope Agenda* ” The first thing he did in office was to act like a true academic. He set up a panel to study the situation and come up with a comprehensive blueprint for the repositioning of the Education. And he didn’t just involve fellow academicians alone, he mixed them with industry players including long term directors in the Ministry who have a lot of institutional memories. Prof Tahir Mamman understood that every academic study can be enriched by some validation exercises. He promptly set up a two-step validation process. First he established a small team of experts and asked them to explore the study contents and come up with a working document.

That working document which was designed by the experts was ultimately aligned to the education roadmap of the Bola Tinubu vision. It was further subjected to a stakeholder validation process at a retreat in Uyo the Akwa Ibom state capital. Participants include a broad spectrum of industry players including the sub-national governments, international agencies, academics and professionals. It was profound and deep.

As if that was not enough, Prof Tahir held a stakeholder forum in Abuja involving civil society groups. This too was in keeping with the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is concerned about public input into all policies. The President believes that all policies are for the benefits of the people hence the need for public inputs into all policy documents.The end result of these processes is a working document that had an input from different sources with insider knowledge and ” *recipient value understanding”

The essence of these National Stakeholders Conferences and Strategic Engagements are intended to advance education leadership management, ensure quality assurance in education, promote teacher education and determine benchmarks for creating a valuable education database. These engagements include building valuable partnerships with the private sector in order to build a holistic education system for the country.

One thing that stood out very clearly during these engagements is that the Federal Government’s direct role in Primary and Secondary Education is minimal. As a matter of fact, the Federal government role at these levels of Education are simply policy matters and regulations. Another fact that emerged is that there are more private schools at the basic and secondary level than public schools. Working on the directives of the President, the Federal Ministry of Education set out to remodel all policies at the basic and secondary levels to fit into certain key requirements. One of such requirements which is derived from the Renewed Hope Agenda is universal access to basic education by all citizens. In this case a new impetus was given to ensuring that out-of-school children are reduced drastically and eventually eliminated completely. Another core component of the new education policy is the introduction of skill-sets, as part of the curricular at both basic and post basic levels.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had earlier informed the nation that he is committed to very high standards in education. Leveraging on that understanding, Professor Tahir Mamman started working on new policies that will set standards that may create a competitive advantage for public schools. At the public stakeholder forum the Minister said that ” *by the time our current policies mature there will be no difference in standards between public and private schools* ” that is something we eagerly look forward to. One key area this policy is expected to truly make a difference is in the reintroduction of the skills component in the education system at the basic and secondary levels.

Nigeria like most parts of the world is transiting to a more functional form of education that includes hands-on knowledge in a particular skill for every student. This is in addition to literacy and numeracy. The reason of course is that both white collar and blue collar jobs are limited. Students must begin to look beyond being job seekers to job creators. Hence, the new policy of education tilting towards a more comprehensive and functional learning environment than just relying on a theoretical framework.

In the area of research and development, the Federal Ministry of Education under the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration has sponsored 185 researchers, supported 44 teams of 176 researchers and upgraded 24 centers of excellence. The net effect is that about 80 books have been written and published. All of them are tailor made for the Nigerian learning ecosystem. 868 Academic Research journals were procured in addition to 3,118,701 assorted books and 376,262 E-Resources.

The Review of both Senior Secondary Education Curriculum and Tertiary Education curriculum have been undertaken within the last one year. The review emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge, competitive employable skills, skills for digital disruption, development of skills in Positive Based Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics, entrepreneurial attitude and skills, value orientation, and a wide range of critical soft skills for global competitiveness.

Teacher training and advancement are at the core of an effective education system Training of Teachers is considered a core component of the overall education advancement in the country because of the realization that the teacher is the learning process. To this end various programmes have been put in place for the training of teachers. 35,000 teachers across the country have been trained in the use of ICT in the classroom. In addition, 70,674 teachers and non-teaching staff at all levels in various relevant academic and non-academic have benefited from training initiatives, covering Leadership Skills Development, Effective National Innovation Ecosystem, Education Management Information System, Quality Assurance, Effective curriculum development and implementation and many others including early childhood care development.

The Ministry has Registered and certified 40,999 teachers on their TRCN database and a total of 19, 193 licenses have been issued to teachers. 3,535 successful graduating education students across 11 institutions in the country were inducted while the Dual Mandate in Federal Colleges of Education has commenced. This means that there will be Concurrent running of the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) & Degree programmes in those institutions.

The bulk of the Federal Government direct contributions in education are at the Tertiary level. At this level, the Federal Government participates in a number of ways through ownership of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, regulation and interventions. This way the government is saddled with setting standards and ensuring that Nigerian graduates compete with graduates all over the world. Already it is evident that Nigerian graduates have been proving their capacities all over the world.

What the Ministry of Education under President Tinubu’s government hopes to achieve is to align all Tertiary education activities within a common standard that ensures value addition through skill-sets as the core component of learning. In addition the Ministry is working towards a unified system that encourages synergy and mobility. The new mantra is co-operation rather than competition.

It is in line with this new focus that for the first time in the history of the country, the government released the list of governing Councils for Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education at the same time. The purpose is to enable them to commence work at the same time. Thus, monitoring and evaluating their contributions as policy hubs can be done at the same level using the same key performance indicators (KPIs).

In order to make sure they operate using the same benchmarks developed from the Renewed Hope Agenda and stakeholder inputs, they will be invited to attend a retreat together as a group. The essence is to enable all the council members to know that Tertiary education under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will operate in synergy. There is no superiority or territorial protection. They must all function as units of National development under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education.

One year after, all the frameworks for a robust education roadmap have been put in place. Some of the policies have started taking shape. Academic calendars for all Tertiary Institutions will be standardized with all hiccups such as strikes by staff avoided at all levels. The roles and functions of the different tiers such as Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges Education will be clearly spelt out and pursued vigorously. In the end the Education roadmap will eventually leap-frog Nigeria into the 4th Industrial revolution. The ultimate goal is to change the education landscape of Nigeria for the better. According to Professor Tahir Mamman SAN CON ” _The goal of Education under the Tinubu Administration is to provide for a reformed education sector that provides access to quality education for all and is capable of producing a highly skilled and educated workforce equipped with entrepreneurial skills to break the cycle of poverty and guarantee sustainable economic growth and global competitiveness”.

_Ahmad Sajoh is a member of the Independent Media and Policy Initiative IMPI and writes from Wuse, Abuja


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