Feedback is the soul of the system

While I was doing an online research on the framework for teaching standards in Nigeria, I stumbled on the digitisation project of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). Interestingly they have so much detailed publications online that I have to say that I was a little bit surprised. Although, the publications are dated, they’re still valuable for anyone that is interested in teacher education and the practice of teaching in Nigeria.

The experience I gained from a year of blogging on educational issues in Nigeria, particularly in the area of policy implementation, shows me that there is the need for more Nigeria based education practitioners (teachers, school administrators, educators, educationalists…) to engage more with the use and interpretations of the national: curriculum, policy on education and teaching practice standards framework; and document their experience with these education policy instruments by keeping, writing and sharing reflective journals, diaries, notes, blogs… Because if the country’s education sector is to develop, all the stakeholders involved in it have important roles to play. Hence, little efforts like reflecting in and on the use of those policy instruments by the practitioners when gathered together would count for lots.

For example, in the UK (England in this context) at the moment there are ongoing discussions and debates around curriculum, assessment, pedagogical and professional issues, and most of the actions being taken by Ofsted and DfE are not just influenced by research, ideological persuasions, industries and government policies but they are also influenced by some of the feedbacks they get on social media platforms from practitioners within the UK education sector. Although, that’s in the UK, however, educators in Nigeria can use similar outlets to actively engage with policy makers in the country but in order to be able to actively and positively engage with the policy makers, education practitioners in the Nigerian education system will have to engage more with the documents prepared and provided by the country’s education authorities and bodies. And if anyone is in doubt of what can be achieved through the use of social media platforms to influence policy decisions and decision making process in Nigeria, I’ll encourage the person to look at some of the recent national issues like the: NGO bill, JAMB admissions saga and End SARS movement.

Education practitioners in Nigeria can even write open letters sharing their thoughts and experience on different education instruments in the system with relevant authorities and bodies in the country. Who knows if such open letters will influence some of the policy makers’ future decisions. For instance, Mailafiya in 1986 wrote a PhD thesis on the need to establish an Open University in Nigeria but it was not until about two decades later before the National Open University was re-established; this shouldn’t be the ideal situation but unfortunately it’s the way things operate in the country at the moment and the system won’t change itself overnight. However, at the bare-minimum, education practitioners within the system can work towards having a better society and functional educational system that is fit for purpose.

I am of the opinion that there is need for education practitioners in Nigeria to engage more with the country’s education policy instruments and this position is informed by the indiscriminate use of foreign curriculums by some practitioners in the country’s education sector. Some education practitioners in the country use these curriculums without giving adequate consideration to the contexts in which such curriculums or frameworks were designed for.

For instance, the US spends about $634 Billion on its public education while Nigeria’s education budget for 2018 is N605.8 billion ($2 Billion). Thus, the reality is that the country has limited resources to fund its education sector and the economy is grossly under developed, hence, there is need to regularly conduct needs assessment in the education sector. There is no need having a lab to train people that will specialise in rocket science if the local industries cannot absorb such skills. Similarly, if the US is producing STEM resources on areas like developing knowledge and skills in the use and production of high end technologies that prepare students to become astronauts in a place like NASA, Nigeria may not be able to do likewise due to issues that can be as basic as the scope and capacity of NASRDA. Hence, the STEM curriculum produced for a US classroom might not necessarily be fit for purpose in a classroom in Nigeria.

Furthermore, money or changes in policy won’t ordinarily achieve a change in behaviour from a group of people but the collective cognitive reorientation on how a functional and dynamic system should operate would go a long way in addressing some of the inherent issues in the Nigerian education sector. Public institutions still offer the best and most sustainable solutions to most of the problems in the country’s education sector. Hence, education practitioners in the country need to engage with them and support them.

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