International Literacy Day: Need To Upgrade Nigerian School Curriculum
By: Blessing Ukemena on September 8, 2013 - 2:55am
Sending one’s child to school used to be the sole goal of many parents but the quality of education in the country has continued to fall. And as the United Nations marks the International Literacy Day, teachers are calling for a revisit on the Nigerian school curriculum to make it competitive with those of the western countries. BLESSING UKEMENA writes
Today marks the United Nations international literacy day and Nigeria being one of the member nations of the UN, much is left to be desired. In the UNESCO, Education For All Global Monitoring report, which was launched in March this year, Nigeria has some of the worst education indicators globally.
According to UNESCO Country Director in Nigeria, Professor Hassana Alidouhim, the report indicated that Nigeria has the largest population of out-of-school children with about 10.5 million out-of-school children. With such indicators, Nigeria will not achieve the goal of Education For All, barely three years to 2015 global time line in spite of the commitment and efforts of the Federal Government toward attainment of same. The report also showed that most of the students in school are not well equipped to solve basic problems in the society, which is one of the aims of education.
Another aspect of the issue is that most schools in Nigeria are now adopting and infusing the curricula of foreign countries such as Britain and America with that of the Nigerian curriculum. Schools using the Nigerian curriculum use largely Nigerian authored textbooks such as Macmillian and Progressive textbooks while those who use foreign curricula use foreign books.
It was at the National Curriculum Conference in 1969 that the present Nigerian curriculum came into being and the 6-3-3-4 system was structured. It made the subjects studied in Nigerian schools more indigenous in content; however, the curriculum has been modified over the years to come to grips with contemporary challenges but so far the curriculum is grossly inadequate in dealing with present issues.
According to Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director General, “Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the 21st century. We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy.”
Literacy is a right and a foundation for lifelong learning, better well-being and livelihoods. As such it is a driver for sustainable and inclusive development in any society. A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development. This is only realisable if the curriculum of that society is able to empower its citizens with the necessary skills to overcome the challenges in that given society. Given the state of education in the country, Nigeria is far from being able to effect any positive change as its youths are ill equipped to meet with the challenges in the country.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Mrs Anita Ola who is the administrative officer for Cornerstone Montessori Schools, Abuja said that they use both the Nigerian and the British curriculum in teaching their students. This was because they use both curricular to get the best out of the students, “Most of the Nigerian schools use the Nigerian curriculum but everyone knows that the British have the best quality of education in the world. So what we do is to fuse the British with the Nigerian system and that has been working for us. With that we use both British and Nigerian books in teaching our students”. She said.
Mr Friday Onwuka is the principal of the Abuja International Academy and he was of the opinion that the Nigerian curriculum was good enough but that there had to be more practical aspect of the curriculum. “We use Nigerian books because we follow the Nigeria curriculum strictly but I think they need to make the curriculum more practical. There are some schools that use foreign curriculums and they are more practical so people tend to prefer them”. He said.
Mrs Jemima Koledoye, the head teacher at the Grace of God Montessori school stated that the Montessori system is Italian but it has been modified to fit into the Nigerian system because it helps the student get a better grasp of the subject thought. “Some of the books we use are Nigerian but we have to use some foreign books in order to make it easier for the student to understand what we teach them. I know the government is trying their best but we would like the Nigerian curriculum to be improved so that it’s not just about theory but the practical aspect of each subject be emphasised. That is what will change the educational scope in Nigeria”. She said.
Emem Opashi is an educational consultant in the FCT and she insists that the Nigerian curriculum has to be modified in terms of being more practical, “I have been a teacher for years now and I notice that the best way to teach a child is thorough practical ways. If you are teaching mathematics for instance then it should not be too abstract to the child or he may not understand. It’s this practical aspect that is lacking in the Nigerian system. We have very brilliant children in this country. Why do you think they do so well when they study abroad? So we need to develop our curriculum and teaching techniques so we do not have to send our children aboard”. She said
It has been reported that the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council headed by Professor Godswill Obioma, is going to various parts of the country to train teachers in the use of the Basic Education Curriculum and the importance of establishment of the Universal Basic Education programme for primary and junior secondary schools. However, since the primary and secondary education are basic, the content of the curriculum need to be modified in such a way that student are able to show what they know. When these children now proceed to the university they will not be at total loss.