Govt’s policies responsible for dip in education standard — Niger SUBEB boss

THE executive chairman, Niger State Universal Basic Education Board (NSUBEB), Mr Alhassan Bawa Niworu, has enumerated some negative government policies that have negatively affected the standard of education in Nigeria.

These he listed as abolition of Teachers Grade II colleges, proliferation of the National Colleges of Education (NCE), ‘de-boarding’ of students in most of the public secondary schools in parts of the country and non-issuance of first School Leaving Certificate at the primary school level.

He stated this recently in his remarks at the Prize Giving-Day ceremony of the National Institute for Fresh Water Fisheries Research (NIFFR) Staff School, New Busa, in Borgu Local Government Area of the state.

The SUBEB boss added that “if the Grade II Teacher’s Certificate programme had not been abolished by successive military and civilian administrations in Nigeria, probably the standard of education might not have fallen.”

The programme, according to him, was designed to produce elementary teachers as a first step towards professionalisation of teaching as a career, stressing that the programme was designed in such a way that graduates could handle effectively all subjects in the primary school curriculum.

He also frowned at a situation whereby “products of secondary schools attend colleges of education within a period of three years and graduate without having sound practical knowledge of teaching.

The SUBEB boss noted that this trend had negatively affected the standard of education in the country as teachers are no longer properly groomed in the art of teaching.

He said: “What this implies is that across the country presently, there are NCE graduates who cannot teach Arithmetic which Grade II teachers could teach back then, and NCE teachers who cannot speak the kind of English the Grade II Teachers of then could speak, just as pupils are no longer taught writing, singing or physical education.”

While he described the trend as sad, he noted that “almost all of the colleges of education in the country have turned to degree-awarding institutions and the nomenclature of ‘principal’ at the advanced teachers’ college is now ‘provost’ at the college of education.

“Sooner or later, they will agitate to be addressed as vice chancellors because they equally award degrees with faculties in place. This beats my imagination as to what the faculties of education of our universities may teach in the course of time because of the cheap degrees from these Colleges of Education.”

Niworu also argued that the boarding school idea, especially in the public secondary school, was a good avenue to inculcate discipline in students through adherence to hostel rules and enforcement of seniority on them, saying that children in the boarding school lived with other children from different ethnic groups, religious background and equally from different family or social backgrounds.

He noted also that the damage caused as a result of ‘deboarding’ in the nation’s public schools is far more than the numerical advantage of students’ intakes.

The SUBEB chairman also condemned in strong terms the abolition of prescribed examinations for pupils at the completion of primary school years of study, which were usually marked with the issuance of the first School Leaving Certificate and characterised by a test of the knowledge of pupils in Arithmetic (now Mathematics), English Language, Civics and General Knowledge.

He noted that the certificate issued in the past did not only bear the academic performance of the child on completion of his or her course of study, but also the bio-data and the assurance of his or her 75 per cent attendance in school.

Furthermore, he identified the school calendar system in the nation’s tertiary institutions as another area of concern, noting that the change from the end-of-the-year examination to the semester method had in no small measure reduced the level of reading culture among undergraduate students.