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Govs shouldn’t pay WASSCE fees — Prof. Adebayo




Former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo
A former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo, gives an insight into various issues in the nation’s education system

Do you share the view of some educationists that Nigeria’s education sector seems to be on a slow pace to recovery?

Every one is saying our education standard is deteriorating. I believe their assumption is based on the poor performance of candidates in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination and National Examination Council, especially in English language and Mathematics. They also measured their perceived drop in education standard based on the employability of graduates from higher institutions. I do agree that anyone, who graduates from a good university, should be employable. Some educationists even say education was better in the past. But at that time, many of our parents were prepared for white-collar jobs. They weren’t forced to do entrepreneurial courses. Many of them were prepared to become teachers. They also got jobs in various ministries. Some weren’t even interviewed for those positions. We must understand that the competition in the market wasn’t as tough as what youths face today. I believe our population has widely increased. I attended a public school when those schools were good, not like what we have today. I believe lack of supervision, bastardisation of the education system by politicians and all kinds of popularity programmes have crippled the sector. Private schools, on the other hand, are doing well. In public schools, the sense of commitment is missing. The first thing we need to do is to stop incessant interruption from political visions. These visions are undigested and are there to create problems. I describe them as interrupted and untested political visions. Constant change in our school curriculum has also caused our education system to deteriorate.

Where do you see the sector in the next five years?

I believe the sector would have changed. The government is focusing on Internally Generated Revenue. Institutions are also being tasked on this. Over the years, I see university coming up with innovative ways to generate income, and not rely on the government for everything. Of course, institutions will continue to admit massively, people will graduate and not be able to get jobs. The current trend will still continue because the society believes if one doesn’t have a university education, one hasn’t started life. But I believe when the market is overloaded, some of those with degrees will go back to technical schools to learn a skill.

One of the aims of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. With just barely four months to the end of the year, what can Nigeria do to achieve this goal?

Nigeria can’t achieve this by the end of this year. These are my reasons: We have religious challenges which we can’t solve within the next few months. If a religion preaches that children shouldn’t go to school, government can’t force them to go to school. There are serious religious barriers to the possibility of point two of the Millennium Development Goals and it will take time to correct. This is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is happening all over the world. It is a pity that extremists are getting stronger, to the extent that they go to secondary schools to recruit members. Although in the east, male child education is a challenge. Even if education is free there, some of them are not interested in going to school; they prefer to go into business. We need a long time plan to sensitise people on the importance of education. As of today, so many children are not allowed to go to school because of these factors.

Misappropriation of funds seems to be a huge challenge in government-owned institutions. Former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo
In this interview with MOTUNRAYO JOEL, a former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo, gives an insight into various issues in the nation’s education system

Do you share the view of some educationists that Nigeria’s education sector seems to be on a slow pace to recovery?

Every one is saying our education standard is deteriorating. I believe their assumption is based on the poor performance of candidates in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination and National Examination Council, especially in English language and Mathematics. They also measured their perceived drop in education standard based on the employability of graduates from higher institutions. I do agree that anyone, who graduates from a good university, should be employable. Some educationists even say education was better in the past. But at that time, many of our parents were prepared for white-collar jobs. They weren’t forced to do entrepreneurial courses. Many of them were prepared to become teachers. They also got jobs in various ministries. Some weren’t even interviewed for those positions. We must understand that the competition in the market wasn’t as tough as what youths face today. I believe our population has widely increased. I attended a public school when those schools were good, not like what we have today. I believe lack of supervision, bastardisation of the education system by politicians and all kinds of popularity programmes have crippled the sector. Private schools, on the other hand, are doing well. In public schools, the sense of commitment is missing. The first thing we need to do is to stop incessant interruption from political visions. These visions are undigested and are there to create problems. I describe them as interrupted and untested political visions. Constant change in our school curriculum has also caused our education system to deteriorate.

Where do you see the sector in the next five years?

I believe the sector would have changed. The government is focusing on Internally Generated Revenue. Institutions are also being tasked on this. Over the years, I see university coming up with innovative ways to generate income, and not rely on the government for everything. Of course, institutions will continue to admit massively, people will graduate and not be able to get jobs. The current trend will still continue because the society believes if one doesn’t have a university education, one hasn’t started life. But I believe when the market is overloaded, some of those with degrees will go back to technical schools to learn a skill.

One of the aims of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. With just barely four months to the end of the year, what can Nigeria do to achieve this goal?

Nigeria can’t achieve this by the end of this year. These are my reasons: We have religious challenges which we can’t solve within the next few months. If a religion preaches that children shouldn’t go to school, government can’t force them to go to school. There are serious religious barriers to the possibility of point two of the Millennium Development Goals and it will take time to correct. This is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is happening all over the world. It is a pity that extremists are getting stronger, to the extent that they go to secondary schools to recruit members. Although in the east, male child education is a challenge. Even if education is free there, some of them are not interested in going to school; they prefer to go into business. We need a long time plan to sensitise people on the importance of education. As of today, so many children are not allowed to go to school because of these factors.

Misappropriation of funds seems to be a huge challenge in government-owned institutions. Former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo
In this interview with MOTUNRAYO JOEL, a former Head of Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Abayomi Adebayo, gives an insight into various issues in the nation’s education system

Do you share the view of some educationists that Nigeria’s education sector seems to be on a slow pace to recovery?

Every one is saying our education standard is deteriorating. I believe their assumption is based on the poor performance of candidates in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination and National Examination Council, especially in English language and Mathematics. They also measured their perceived drop in education standard based on the employability of graduates from higher institutions. I do agree that anyone, who graduates from a good university, should be employable. Some educationists even say education was better in the past. But at that time, many of our parents were prepared for white-collar jobs. They weren’t forced to do entrepreneurial courses. Many of them were prepared to become teachers. They also got jobs in various ministries. Some weren’t even interviewed for those positions. We must understand that the competition in the market wasn’t as tough as what youths face today. I believe our population has widely increased. I attended a public school when those schools were good, not like what we have today. I believe lack of supervision, bastardisation of the education system by politicians and all kinds of popularity programmes have crippled the sector. Private schools, on the other hand, are doing well. In public schools, the sense of commitment is missing. The first thing we need to do is to stop incessant interruption from political visions. These visions are undigested and are there to create problems. I describe them as interrupted and untested political visions. Constant change in our school curriculum has also caused our education system to deteriorate.

Where do you see the sector in the next five years?

I believe the sector would have changed. The government is focusing on Internally Generated Revenue. Institutions are also being tasked on this. Over the years, I see university coming up with innovative ways to generate income, and not rely on the government for everything. Of course, institutions will continue to admit massively, people will graduate and not be able to get jobs. The current trend will still continue because the society believes if one doesn’t have a university education, one hasn’t started life. But I believe when the market is overloaded, some of those with degrees will go back to technical schools to learn a skill.

One of the aims of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. With just barely four months to the end of the year, what can Nigeria do to achieve this goal?

Nigeria can’t achieve this by the end of this year. These are my reasons: We have religious challenges which we can’t solve within the next few months. If a religion preaches that children shouldn’t go to school, government can’t force them to go to school. There are serious religious barriers to the possibility of point two of the Millennium Development Goals and it will take time to correct. This is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is happening all over the world. It is a pity that extremists are getting stronger, to the extent that they go to secondary schools to recruit members. Although in the east, male child education is a challenge. Even if education is free there, some of them are not interested in going to school; they prefer to go into business. We need a long time plan to sensitise people on the importance of education. As of today, so many children are not allowed to go to school because of these factors.

Misappropriation of funds seems to be a huge challenge in government-owned institutions. How can this be tackled?

Institutions keep complaining of lack of fund, but the truth is that resources will never be enough. The strategy these institutions employ is that when there is a problem, they immediately say they are underfunded to. If institutions operate with the funds government allocates them and they run the courses they can handle, they shouldn’t have any problem. The issue is, many of these institutions run 100, 120 courses when they know their funds can’t manage these courses. Some leaders in these institutions don’t know their jobs. They need to know their capacity and build on it. If these institutions set up structures according to their capacity and they produce the right candidates for the market, there would be a big transformation in our society. Universities that take money from the Federal Government should begin to drop courses they can’t handle and focus on courses they can handle. The economic reality in the world today is dictating that the incoming generating capacity of our country is reducing.

Countries such as Ghana and South Africa seem to have a good education system. What can Nigeria do to meet up?

We can’t meet up in the next few years because the culture in South Africa is different. Part of the culture operating here is, for every little issue, lecturers embark on a strike. This doesn’t happen in South Africa. If a student goes to South Africa, he knows when he will graduate. In Nigeria, unions and the government are not thinking of strengthening our system. Moreover, our industrial relations atmosphere is confusing. It isn’t building the system, rather, it is destroying the system. One of the problems of our institutions is the instability of the academic calendar, and these institutions border on many factors of industrial negotiations that are brought with a lot of fraud. This is a big ball game which I don’t want to delve into. The work culture in South Africa is different from the work culture here. In South Africa, as a professor, there is an amount of money one must generate in order for one to be relevant in the system; that doesn’t operate here. The work culture in Nigeria doesn’t foster stability of our academic session. Until we think of how to resolve these issues, we won’t catch up with South Africa and Ghana.

The percentage of candidates that failed English in this year’s WASSCE is alarming. What is the cause of this and what can be done to check future occurrence?

The job of the West African Examinations Council and NECO is to certify students based on the quality of their knowledge. Their certificates tell us the quality of their (candidates) knowledge in English and Mathematics. Most public schools are loaded with teachers that are discouraged. If a teacher hasn’t been paid for seven months, there is nothing that teacher will teach that would be meaningful. Many of them have resorted to farming; they need to feed their children. The truth is that many of them don’t enroll their children in the schools where they work. The major input in the educational system starts from primary and secondary. If a teacher feels he or she is not appreciated, that teacher won’t give his or her best. Most state governments don’t see it this way.

Recently, the Oyo State Government stopped the payment of the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination fee for public school candidates.What is your view?

Were governors paying for it before? It is the new governors that came into power that started this. In my days, the government didn’t pay WASSCE fee; I attended a public school. Many of these governors have put up ‘popularistic’ programmes. When they can no longer afford their ‘popularistic’ programmes, they back out. This is where the problem comes from. A leader must be able to see into the future and predict the sustainability of his or her actions. They just want to be popular. The government should have focused on indigent students who have been certified by their principals to be unable to pay for their fees. Anything free won’t be good and it won’t last. At the same time, if one is paying for something and one can’t pay for it any longer, one should stop. The reality today is that no state government can afford all the free measures they put up.

Did the Oyo State Government make a mistake initiating the payment of WASSCE fees?

Yes, that is what I feel.

So, how important is vocational studies to primary and tertiary students?

We can’t include vocational studies at the primary level. Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. Anyone in business must have insight. Entrepreneurs can’t be made overnight. Some graduates won’t be able to manage a business even if they are forced to do so. Primary education is primary but teaching pupils how to become entrepreneurs is wrong. Basic knowledge should be solid and firm. From secondary school, one can work on teaching pupils to learn a skill. The economic opportunity for people to take advantage of is choked up by mismanagement.

Does the government have a role to play in reducing adult illiteracy or it is a personal decision?

Adult literacy is good; it will make these adults more productive and fit for civic responsibilities, but whose responsibility is it to achieve adult literacy? If the government has the money to afford it, it is a good move.







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