51. Let us look at an average SS3 student in his last year at a secondary school. He has to tackle JAMB in April, WAEC in May / June, NECO in June /July, Post-Jamb in August / September and possibly GCE in October/November. Lord have mercy! Yet it is supposed to be one of the most important years for him. Even some of his colleagues in private schools might also be sitting for SAT and TOEFL! It is DEFINITELY a perfect script for examination or educational disasters. In effect we have built up an automatic system for pressurizing our children and for injuring our own national psyche by a nonsensical arrangement of national examinations. Is it impossible to space our or scale down on these examinations to give way to more reasonable and adequate preparations?
52. What about internal school examinations? How are the questions set? How many schools have examination committees which review these questions? Do parents have any PTA-based arrangement for evaluating the quality of examinations set based on schemes of work? What about the marking and grading? Are they realistic? Is the possibility of cover-up attempts by some teachers (who want to make sure many students pass their papers by all means) a reality or not?
Is it impossible to arrange that SS1 and SS2 promotional examination papers be marked in other schools? Is it impossible for States’ Ministries of Education to set questions and arrange for their marking by teachers in other schools? This can be done by distributing scripts to subject tutors in schools within the District without the identification of students and schools where the scripts originated from
53. Let us banish the practice of NEW MINISTER, NEW PROGRAMs at the Federal Ministry of Education. Let us pursue with greater vigor the following programmes set up by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili when she was Federal Minster for Education.
Adopt –A – Public-School Program (AAPS)
Community Accountability and Transparency Initiative (CATI)
Operations Reach All Secondary Schools (ORASS)
Operations Reach All Primary Schools (ORAPS)
Vocational Enterprise Institutions(VEI)
54. An alternative is to set up what should be called the Independent Nigerian Education Project (INEP) preferably outside the Nigerian Presidency. INEP should be headed by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili. She should be contracted to head it for 5 years renewable at least once. The INEP will set out to draw up a 10-year Educational Plan for Nigeria and will work hand in hand with the two Cabinet Ministers on Education. The INEP will also coordinate all external audit work of all institutions under the two Ministries and have related reports submitted annually to the President and the national assembly as earlier suggested. Mrs. Ezekwesili is very qualified for this job as long as she does not belong to any political party and not subject to being changed like Cabinet Ministers. Her position and duties should of course be legally backed up look that of Prof Jega under INEC.
55. The phenomenon we call “homework” for day students in public and private schools also need some scrutiny. If one is to evaluate what it is today as “homework” it should be represented in our educational system by a caricature of a student pretending to be busy at work. Most of what many schools call “homework” are useless uncoordinated materials vs-a-vis classroom work. By the way, how do you give “homework” on a concept that most of the class did not grasp or understand? Are we really interested in real or mechanical “home work”? Are schools aware of how many students copy each other’s home work through their cell phones while probability watching English Premier League matches? Is the atmosphere for home work real or just our usual air of “TOKENISM”? In fact how are these homework administered? Do school HODS check them before they are given? As far as i am concerned the answer for most cases is a resounding No! Are they marked on time, recorded and reviewed for corrective measures? Or are they treated like Lesson Notes which are carelessly handled and submitted in many schools only after relevant classes have taken place?
Do we still hold to the archaic idea of parents checking homework? Which parents are we talking about? Is it those who leave their homes very early and come back home through bad traffic late and definitely mentally tired?
Is it not better to set up a system whereby home work is reclassified as school assignments and done within school premises immediately after school supervised by subject tutors in charge? We did it in our group of schools and is also being used in the UK as we speak. We are proud to add that theirs started two years after implementation in our schools.
56. Another area of weakness in our educational set-up is the practice of sending school reports to parents through their children. Parents are expected to sign such reports and have them returned to the school using the same carrier.
Do we know how many of these children actually give their report cards to parents especially when there are no alternative communications channels between schools and parents? Have we not seen students who perfected their parents’ signatures, sign the reports and return them back to school without batting an eyelid?
57. Definitely parents need more time and a high sense of commitment to contribute meaningfully to their children’s education these days. But how many of those outside IVY League schools have such Parents or Caretakers? Even among the Ivy League schools how many fathers really bother to find time for their children’s school activities?
Generally speaking our experience has shown that senior civil servants do pay more attention to their children’s school work than most other groups whether higher or lower in terms of annual average family incomes. More often than not they remember to ask their children about school, homework, PTA and school reports. But like every other parents they also have text messages bank statements, stock reports and pension provisions and schools’ newsletters to go through these days. But definitely, government and school need to keep reminding them of the important roles they are expected to play in the lives of their children.
58. Do most schools have libraries? I mean deep useful libraries for students’ reference and regular use? Why is it impossible to see how important libraries and librarians are important to each school? Are we saying that Government cannot set up and equip a Library or a youth centre for academic and recreational purposes in each Local Government Area in the country? Are we saying we cannot set up effective arrangements for borrowing and security of Library assets?
Did The National Education Policy state that a Youths Readers Club is a must in every school or not? When shall this policy be really activated or, implemented seriously? How many schools truly celebrate reading?
59. Let us go back to parents but from another angle. Many parents fail to recognize that a gleaning bus or a beautiful building does not make up a school. Neither do uniforms and hats.
A school is the makeup and determination of those appointed to administer and it. Therefore our parents need to wake up and stop wasting their money on dreams. Many parents do get sucked in by the display of buildings, buses, laboratories, computer rooms and first-aid rooms. But how many parents during open days or PTA meetings really try to evaluate how much their children gain from school libraries and laboratories? How often are students given novels to summarize? How many of their teachers or nursing staff are qualified to handle special needs in emergency situations?
60. A sound school must combine the experienced and the young but energetic staff members who can study students at close quarters, and evolve solution scenarios when necessary. Such planning should be at macro and micro activity levels of student academic and behavioral engagements. And school administrators among them their must have enough authority to activate, execute such plans They should have enough intelligence to review and change midstream if plans go awry. Those of them who lack the commitment or sacrifice or interest in the affairs, growth and development of students should in some cases be made to face disciplinary action on the spot as earlier mentioned and not through the Minister, Commissioner, Permanent Secretary or School Proprietors only.
TO BE CONTINUED