NDA establishes CCTTL to stem decline in education quality

NDAThe Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, has established the Centre for Critical Thinking, Teaching and Learning (CCTTL) in its efforts to stem the decline in the quality of education in the academy and Nigeria in general.

Commandant of NDA, Major General M.I. Idris, stated this during the inauguration and formal launch of the centre at the old site of the Academy recently

According to him, NDA, was at inception, conceived as a prime military institution charged with not only military training but also leadership and character development of young cadets, intent on pursuing lofty military careers, adding that, the general malaise in the Nigerian polity, especially as it concerns education, did not spare the institution.

However, determined to reverse the downward drift in the standard of education, as well as bridge the gaps in the overall character development of the cadets, the current leadership of the NDA came up with the establishment of the CCTTL whose core essence is to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fair minded critical thinking.

Explaining the need for the establishment of CCTTL, the commandant said that: “In line with our mission and aspiration to be the gold standard for the renewal of higher education in Nigeria, we have set up this centre with the intention of incorporating critical thinking in the core curriculum of the NDA. Some may ask, “Why critical thinking?” We say critical thinking because it cultivates substance and true intellectual discipline. It entails rigorous self reflection and open mindedness, which are not only key ingredients required to make the significant changes required in instruction and learning, but as you will agree with me, traits and qualities that are expected in every good military officer.”

Gen. Idris further asserted that, critical thinking requires the cultivation of core intellectual values and virtues such as humility, perseverance, integrity and responsibility and maintained that these core values, have been largely eroded in the larger Nigerian polity as well as the academic communities like the NDA.
The commandant expressed optimism that with the establishment of the centre, the NDA has shown its commitment to remedying the deficiencies in our education system, which may have held the nation back, adding that this initiative will raise the national profile and international visibility of the academy.

Coordinator of CCTTL, Dr. Nafisat Muhammad, said the centre was poised to enhance the skills and professional integrity of incoming and serving teachers, instructors, students and officer cadets in line with the NDA mission.

Muhammad who said the aim of the centre was to transform and standardise teaching and learning, not only within military institutions but also, for similar non-military organisations as well, added that it is envisaged to become a hub for the initial as well as continuing professional development of military instructors and members of the academic faculty in NDA.
Maintaining that critical thinking skills was important to everyone, the coordinator stated that through the filter of critical thinking, the centre will produce instructors, teachers, officer cadets and students with enhanced abilities in creative critical thinking, teaching and learning and self-regulatory judgment that can be applied when solving complex real world problems.

“Clearly, a society determined to evolve must inculcate the rigour of critical thinking as part and parcel of progress. Indeed, the centre is not only timely but restorative as well, given the continuous decline in moral and educational standard in our nation’s rather pathetic state.

“I have no doubt it is an initiative that will go a long way in reviving old values and advancing the Academy’s ‘standards. Clearly, a society determined to evolve must inculcate the rigour of Critical Thinking as part and parcel of progress,” she added.

Dr. Muhammad stated that the CCTTL intends to be a remedial, proactive and progressive Centre aimed at: standardization in response to the deplorable standard of education nationally; specialization component in view of the NDA’s peculiar needs in teaching and learning as an ‘exceptional’ university; collaboration and partnerships for comparative advantages; consultancy and mentoring services; and capacity building and institutional strengthening.

The lead presenter, Dr. Saawua Gabriel Nyityo, in a paper titled, “The Relevance of Critical Thinking in Life and in Education”, stated philosophically that, “everything you do in life is affected by the quality of your thinking”, adding that one’s inability to think clearly predisposes such a person at the mercy of everyone and that the failure of many people to give serious consideration to Critical Thinking makes such persons susceptible to frustration, pain, ineffectiveness and financial loss that result from poorly considered thinking.

The associate professor of History from the Benue State University, Makurdi, traced the history of critical thinking back to the vision of Socrates some 2, 500 years ago through his method of probing and questioning as it was discovered that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge.

He stated further that it was obvious to Socrates that confused meanings, inadequate and unsubstantiated evidence or self contradictory beliefs were often at the back of smooth but largely empty rhetoric and so, Socrates therefore, came to the conclusion that one cannot depend upon those in “authority” to have sound knowledge and insight.

According to him, it was at this point that Socrates went on to demonstrate his position by arguing that persons may have power and high position and yet be deeply confused and irrational and it was therefore, pertinent to ask deep questions that probe profoundly into thinking before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.

The Centre is thus, premised on a trio- pillar policy, and hinged on: Adoption of a learner centered approach to instruction; Incorporation of Critical Thinking instruction in the teaching and learning process; and Technology aided learning and teaching. The Center will also focus on 8 themes namely: Methods of instruction; Communication Skills; Instructional Supervision and Evaluation; Learning and teaching with Technology; Ethics in Education; The Learner centered classroom; and Military Civil interface in higher education pedagogy.

In a vote of thanks, the Academy Provost, Prof. A.S. Nwankwo, expressed appreciation to the Commandant for establishing the Centre for Critical Thinking, Teaching and Learning and promised to ensure that the aim, vision and mission of the centre are achieved.

Other centres established by the present leadership of the NDA include Centre for the Study of Leadership and Complex Military Operations and Centre for Cyber Warfare Research as well as Faculty of Military Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies.

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