Secondary school education should create job opportunities for school leavers

The system of education we are running in Nigeria is known as the 6-3-3-4. The National Policy on Education first published its curriculum in 1977 with the following five (5) main national goals. To build a free and democratic society; a just and egalitarian society; a united, strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; and a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens. From the curriculum, the first six years are spent in completing primary school education. The next three years are for the first leg of secondary school education, known as Junior Secondary School. The following three years are spent in completing the last leg of secondary school education which is referred to as Senior Secondary School or the three years meant for completing vocational training in technical college. The last four years are for tertiary education at the college of education, polytechnic or university.

Our 6-3-3-4 system of education is modelled on the United States of America (USA) system of education. The USA is pragmatic in following this system of education. And it works for them. This is the time the stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector should sit down to define and clarify the type of system of education that would work for us instead of imitating, for imitation is limitation. Of course, the problem with us in this country is not with the system of education, but with the people who are operating the system. I am of the opinion that secondary school education should create job opportunities for school  leavers.

The new Nigerian system of education advocates the use of Science and technological education for our national development, yet with the recent two reforms carried out in our national education sector (we are told that our educational curriculum must be subjected to review every five years), the new Basic Education Curriculum (for both Primary and Junior Secondary Schools) launched in Sokoto by the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 30 September, 1999. And the new Senior Secondary School Education Curriculum structure produced by the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), which was planned to have started in September 2011 with the first set of Basic Educational graduates (it involves trade subjects).

Science subjects in the Senior Secondary School are still academic prone, for the teaching of science subjects like physics,  chemistry and biology have no immediate relevance to create job opportunities for secondary school leavers. Those subjects are there for future use. That is, until the students of these sciences get to the polytechnic or university where they may become engineers or medical doctors, they are not useful for job acquisition. I am of the opinion that physics as one of the science subjects in the senior secondary school, should be changed to ‘Technological Goods and their Manuals’, likewise chemistry as a subject should be changed to ‘Industrial Activities’,  while biology should be replaced with ‘Physiology and Hygiene’.

Up till now, there is no ‘model academy’ in this country because the secondary school graduates are still jobless. And teachers in this country are not professionals, because, as we know, a professional teacher must acquire /own tools, equipment, machines – both softwares and hardwares – including infrastructure to practise his/her subject at his/her home work place to earn a living — to get money from it to live on. Students on the other hand are supposed to have their own personal tools, equipment, and implements to work upon for mastery of the teaching from each subject teacher, so that they can practise at home on their own as well.

This is where the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) should come in to clear this tide. Instead of sending teachers back to the university, the NUT should spearhead the training of her members as other professional unions/bodies, by organising seminars, workshops, and conferences to make basic education for basic living a reality through production of manuals, magazines, journals, newsletters and attract various resource persons from industries, companies and institutions in both private and public enterprises. They should also be able to attract the sale of tools, machines, equipment, instruments, both softwares and hard wares, and create an avenue for advertisement and marketing of commodities, goods and services. The training should include overseas conferences and workshops for members.

Having therefore chosen our course, let us renew our trust in God and go forward without fear to make ‘Model Academy’ realizable in this country, Nigeria where the school leavers would not be jobless and our country shall be great. Nigeria! Good people, great nation.

Adedokun sent this piece from Baptist High School, Okeho, Oyo State.