By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Jane Echewodo
Lagos—Former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili has called for an efficient educational system in the country, lamenting that the Federal Ministry of Education lacked an updated data of secondary schools in the country as at the time she took over the helm of affairs.
Ezekwesili, who is also the coordinator of Bring Back Our Girls Forum, spoke at the annual Gani Fawehinmi Lecture entitled: “The Collapse of Public Education And The Past, Present And Future, Prospects Of The Nigeria State,” organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch.
According to Ezekwesili, the state of education in the country needs holistic reform to meet the international standard reminiscent of the old good days.
She disclosed that up to 2006, the Ministry of Education did not have the updated information on the total number of secondary schools in the country.
According to her, “In 2006/2007, one of the most shocking thing to discover was that a comprehensive inspection of school has not been undertaken for more than two and half decades. Though we were the ministry of education that supposed to be regulating, but what are we regulating when we don’t have updated information on the number of schools we supervise?”
In his remarks, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, challenged the NBA to enhance the fight against corruption by partnering with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Falana said: “The NBA should aid the EFCC in it’s fight against corruption because the EFCC should not be alone in this fight. The NBA should aid the EFCC to ensure that any individual that has taken a kobo from the $320 million Abacha loot should be held accountable. The sharing of the Abacha loot is a typical example of thieves stealing from thieves.”
Also, son of the late Gani Fawehinmi, Mr Mohammed Fawehinmi said that education was a passion that was very dear to his late father’s heart.
“So, when I came in, we introduced what is known as Operation Reach Out to All Secondary Schools (OPRASS) and it is through it we reached out to all Secondary Schools in the country. At the end of the exercise, were able to come up with the statistics that over 75 percent of secondary in Nigeria are run through public system while private ownership accounted for 25percent,” the former Minister said.
The former minister, however, regretted that similar initiative conceived for primary schools in the country was abandoned after she left as minister in 2007.
On dwindling standard of education, Ezekwesili said the ministry under her adopted a proxy approach to find out the declining performance of students in the annual WASSCE examinations in the last 10 years before 2006.
“The outcome of the investigation which was also proven by academic research undertaken was that there is a decline in the quality of teachers we have in our secondary schools. We realise that there is no amount of structures put in place, no amount of instructional materials put in place that will make students perform without quality teachers,” she said.