HOPELESSNESS BECLOUDS THE FUTURE OF PRODUCTS OF NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
It is no news that over 80-percent of our schools are operating way below the standards attainable, with poor infrastructures and a seeming lack of qualified hands being the major issues faced.
In seeking for a lasting solution to these challenges, Naij.com engaged Fiona Lovatt to shed some light on a new path which Nigeria can toe in actualizing the goal of a standard and effective learning system especially with regards to the basics (the primary and secondary level).
Fiona Lovatt is one who can be called an educational reformer, she is seen in some quarters as a beacon of hope.
Originally from New Zealand, Fiona has made a home in Nigeria and has kept on in her good works, transformfing the lives of many within the north where she resides with her family.
A look at the numerous dilapidated schools across Nigeria, formed the basis of Fiona’s insightful chat with Naij.com.
Fiona says there must be ideas for education that are more rigorous than schools, more permanent and engaging and covers far more skills than Nigeria’s current curriculum and pedagogy delivers. She said: “People could go directly to the page and enjoy the smorgasbord.”
“If you read any of the national curriculum documents, most of them are about 12 years old by now, you will see that very few skills are taught. There is virtually no difference between any of the arts subjects except the content. How dilapidated is that?
“I wish our government had better advisers. The whole curriculum needs to be reviewed. It should be an African curriculum.”
“Then there is Agric which is full of field trips and school farms as sites for practical and experiments. When did you last hear of a school running regular excursions and operating a farm? Most schools could have some vertical gardens, but they don’t. The whole school environment is unstimulating and bland,” Fiona opined.
She argues that: “If they had planted groves of trees the site would only have improved. In areas with little rain it would be an oasis by now and ready for some mats to spread on the ground, as if Plato or other great classical teachers were about to commence a lesson. There would be food for the students, the trees would provide the air conditioning better than an air conditioner.”
Speaking on her idea of a design for a “school in a box”, she said: “It’s like a wardrobe that can be attached to any wall, preferably one outside. Then the doors open completely to reveal a board, shelves filled with books and teaching resources like scales, magnifying glasses, rulers, compasses, magnets, pulleys, charts and maths equipment. It has four large mats to spread out and an awning.
“It’s a design I’d like to share with authorities. 95% of the money spent on it is actually educational. Instead of spending money on walls and floors, the money gets spent of useful learning resources: posters and charts of lifecycles, maps, common foods, plants, and so on.
“There’s even room for skipping ropes and other things that mean the children can test their fitness, keep the results and use them to study statistics in maths. A clock, a stop watch… these things are more important than a contract for furniture.”
Describing her design further, the seasoned educator said the class would require a metal locker stuffed with wonderful, colourful books on any and every subject, can be taken out under a tree and engage the children in self directed learning for hours, and the teacher gets to hear each pupil read one-by-one.
“Every rural community in the nation has traditional building materials and methods that mean each and every community can build their own school, if they feel a building is necessary. The government needs to step up with a curriculum and qualifications system that is relevant, beneficial, and exudes pride in the legacy and heritage of the learners… no more wannabes and fakers,” Fiona stressed.
Fiona notes that in doing all these, then the learning will begin, the celebration of life will begin as well, and Nigeria can get ready for the influx of “foreign tourists who would love to learn about the various cultures, arts, cuisine, architectures, and music of this beautiful land.”
Looking at the subjects and examination scoring, Fiona said: “SS1 – a level one proficiency qualification in no more than 6 subjects. We would require all schools to have 80% of their students pass. If their students are failing then they shouldn’t be sitting exams. Why pay for registration for a test you can’t possibly pass?
“The examiners also need to write exams that are accurate and possible to pass.
“I saw a maths exam for SSS placement.., on the first page there were ten questions and five of them had no possible answer among the a, b, c, d options. I took this up with the authorities who said everyone will get five marks because of the error.
“I said that’s a danger to society: what if a person ends up doing engineering or architecture, believing they can do maths?
“SS2 – a level 2 qualification, SS3 – a level 3 qualification for university entrance. That will be three lovely certificates.
“No more than 6 subjected per student. Some opportunities for in-depth study and mastery.
“50-percent should be the lowest pass mark, and excellent is not excellent until it is 95-percent.
“A student who gets more than 80-percent in 3 subjects at Level-3 should have a university scholarship.”
In conclusion, Fiona argued that universal literacy is possible with a radio, if we so choose. Cuba, Haiti, India have had transformative experiences by choosing a radical path and investing whole heartedly in it.