Group urges African leaders to give priority attention to education for global competitiveness

Stakeholders in the sector drawn from West African countries gathered in Topo-Badagry, Lagos recently to deliberate on how to move education forward for sustainable development in line with global trends. The gathering was a two-day workshop organized by the administrative staff college of Nigeria in collaboration with Cvarsity Heritage Consults as part of their contribution to the development of the sector in the region.

The workshop was designed for officers in the federal and state ministries of education, women affairs, youth development, university faculties of education, colleges of education, polytechnics, as well as agencies charged with the responsibility of managing schools in West Africa.

Director-General of the staff college, Mrs. C.U. Gayya, said Africa must wake up from her slumber and do the needful about her educational system to make the region globally competitive and relevant. She warned that if the present trend continues, Africa would no doubt in the next decade be worse off than it is presently.

Registrar of Management Development Institute, Gambia, Salifu Jobe urged the workshop to identify strategic options that can be used to strengthen national capacities to improve policy formulation, implementation and assessment in the education sector.

Deputy Director, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Mr. Emmanuel A. Wambia, who led a delegation of seven members nominated by the examination body to represent the board at the workshop said something urgent should be done to save the region from being at the back seat in the scheme of things in education when bench-marked with the rest of the world.

Citing the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) recommendations particularly on education for all, gender equality, pupil to teacher ratio, teaching methods and funding, the region is still far from meeting them.

For instance, the participants observed that over 10 million children are-out-of school hawking and assisting their parents to survive harsh economic conditions or are internally displaced persons while the boy-child is still given priority over a girl –child. Instead of the 40:1 pupil to teacher ratio recommended by UNESCO, the group noted that some classes in the region are up to 80:1.

“How can teaching and learning be effective? Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is globally the teaching method but in West Africa, we still use chalkboard under the tree. While Europe, the United States and Asia apply DALTON method since 1920s, many university teachers in the re4gion still believe in face-to-face contact because they are neither trained teachers nor ICT compliant,” the participants lamented.

On the poor funding of the sector by African leaders, the group noted that only Nigeria (in the whole West Africa) has so far budgeted over 6.5 percent in education as at 2018. Besides, they noted that other developed countries of the world including use curriculum that exposes individuals to discover self, be productive and develop skills that make graduates break the vicious cycle of poverty, West Africa still uses curriculum that produces unemployable graduates.

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