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The reason and remedy for the decline in educational standard over the last 20 years

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Thanks for accepting to be a part of this Octagon Room. Today’s topic is tagged “The reason and remedy for the decline in educational standard over the last 20 years.” Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

 

Moyo: I’m Moyo Jogunosimi, fondly called Moyotician. I’m a Math tutor. I run a company called The Lifematics Centre; a creative mathematics company focused on helping the African child enjoy mathematics.

Doyin: Doyin Idowu. Founder One Word Africa – A dyslexia 911 initiative

Tolu: Hello. My name is Tolulope Sokefun. I’m currently studying Early Childhood education in the University of Lagos. I run 2 radio shows on Unilag fm 103.1, Child World and Dream City.

Tola: Hi , I am Adetola Salau an international educator, Scientist, Engineer and the author of more than five books, one of which has been critically acclaimed as a roadmap for transforming our educational system; it is entitled, *”Future Readiness in Education”

 

The Octagon: The Nigerian educational system has been a thing of beauty especially during the era of our nascent republic. The crop of young leaders and their contemporaries that lived during that era possessed a high level of thinking, communication skill and purpose, including articulate strategies for charting a new course for history. Failure or success, Nigeria was birth out of those times. More so it’s apparent that these qualities possessed by the men of the older generation including; Bishop Ajayi Crowther, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Olusegun Obasanjo, Yakubu Gowon, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and so on are all part and parcel of the full package of education.

It is common knowledge that the standard of Nigerian education has fallen, based on the records of WAEC/NECO/JSCE/National common entrance. Somewhere during the late 90’s onwards, we have witnessed a steady downward slide in students’ performance in examinations, and several other important areas including confidence, articulation & leadership qualities.

There are many questions to be asked and also many stakeholders to be reviewed, but for the purpose of this conversation we will like to appraise what role education has played, how education can affect and how education can begin to change in order to shape now and the future.

 

Doyin: Yes these statements are true. The reason for the decline in my opinion is that the system is not moving with the speed of the world. The curriculum is still the way that it is – It worked for the likes of Ahmadu Bello, but so much has changed now. The standard is great if it’s preparing student for the 80s but not quite for 2017 and definitely not the future.  65% of the youth would be employed for jobs that don’t exist yet and the system is not preparing them (us) for it.

 

Moyo: Yes. There has been a decline. Several things are responsible for this decline but I’ll outline few.

1. Increased unemployment factor: due to increase in employment, many people have resulted into teaching. These persons have little or no passion for the job, hence going the extra mile is not in their agenda.

This affects the way they teach, affects what students know and of course their performance in external examination. And as Doyin said, education hasn’t been upgraded. Because most teachers aren’t speaking the language of the century, many students aren’t interested.

 

Tola: The decline is due to various factors. #1 is the effect of brain drain in my opinion – The best of our academics are all over the world. Brilliant professors like my parents relocated overseas and the best of their efforts were over there instead of it being dedicated to our nation. #2 is the lack of relevance we have given education as a nation.

 

Doyin: It’s even better if students aren’t interested and they are left to navigate their ways. They are chastised for not been interested and we are trying to suppress their knowledge. We want to force the old thinking style on them

 

The Octagon: There might be no “single pill” cure for all these issues. How can we remedy the situation such that it recovers progressively?

 

Moyo: Teach students the way they learn rather than compelling them to a one shoe fits all technique. Make students see education as a tool that will give them an edge in life rather than a means to getting “paper” (certificate). With reengineering of teaching techniques, it can be achieved although this may kick out the old cargoes that are resistant to change.

 

Tola: That’s what I kept stressing about in my new book- Future readiness in education. We need to restructure how we see education, and empower our students. The absolute most important tool for our children is creativity

 

Doyin: Yes totally agree. The problem is with the one size fit all mentality. If that can go, it’s the genesis of solving the problem. The one size cannot fit all. The system has to recognise the unique potential in every child and harness it. First we need to recognise there are four specific learning styles. Second we need to restructure the curriculum to serve the world of now. Third it needs to be sustainable. Four it needs to be in line for the future.

Here’s how I see it.  I’d like to share an article that I wrote a while back.

My stand on the educational system. According to the definition by Wikipedia Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. So in other words the goal of education is ensure that students are LEARNING

“We define learning as the transformative process of taking in information that—when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced—changes what we know and builds on what we do. It’s based on input, process, and reflection. It is what changes us.”

That said

Second focus is the Complexity of the human brain. The fact that no two people are the same. Every individual is unique. And the process of learning will differ.

There are four learning styles.

1. The visual

2. The auditory

3. The read write

4. The kinesthetic

People learn using a variety of these methods, but one method is usually predominant in everyone.

But in the educational system of today teachings are usually made to serve mostly the read-write learning style (ask around. Do your personal research, attend a class if you are no longer in school. Just get the facts)

But have we ever heard the saying “Everyone is a genius. And if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. It will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”?

What about the Observation “For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam”?

Both of the statements deal with the educational system and the mode of evaluation.

So would you agree with me that the system has been automatically telling the elephant, the monkey, the chicken and the fish to climb one same tree?

While the monkey will find it very easy to climb the tree, and the chicken may make an effort which could still result in success (the chicken would actually have to fly not climb) but the point is it’s on the tree. No matter how much you tell the elephant and Donkey to read more and pray more (Nigerian parents watch word) it can never climb the tree.

So parents, teachers, educators and care givers rather than frustrate the Donkey and elephant. Making them repeat a class, calling their test scores in class and making their mates make a mockery of them, rather than reducing their self-esteem to zero, and making them get to the point where they personally identify themselves as stupid, dumb not enough. Rather than flogging them and trying to make them conform to a system that shouldn’t be. Rather than comparing them to that child that doesn’t have two heads but comes first in class.

Address what ought to be addressed.

Stop the violation in every form and put your energy where you ought to put it. 

 

Tolu: Ignorance on the parts of some of the classroom teachers is not an excuse. I’ve had the opportunity to visit some schools who claimed to have been using the British curriculum when they do not even know or have not seen the Nigerian curriculum. Every teacher is expected to have a copy of the Nigerian curriculum at hand and follow the guiding principles of the curriculum. Nigeria is a country of its own. While it is encouraged to learn from other developed countries, we should also have it in mind that their curriculum is structured according to their societal needs so adopting their curriculum verbatim by verbatim is absolutely wrong. I also believe that it is pertinent for every single person in the education field to understand that they are major stakeholders in curriculum development and should not hesitate to contribute effectively towards the development and implementation of the Nigerian curriculum. Also, one of the major content stated in the Nigerian curriculum is that “the language of teaching should be the language of the immediate environment”.

How many schools are aware of this? How many schools practice this? How many parents are knowledgeable about this?  This is one of the major problem as major stakeholders are not enlightened on this issue. We have situations where schools trying to practice this are being threatened by parents to withdraw their children from such schools as they fear they won’t  be able to speak the borrowed language, English well. This I fear is one of the major factors leading to the deterioration of our culture.

 

E Nyamador: Education has declined because we have failed to redesign our curriculum to match the 21st century skills required. Our curriculum is too rigid. It doesn’t allow room for creativity. It’s mostly about “chew and pour” (reproduction of what has been taught). We assess our students without considering their abilities. There’s is this image on the Internet showing animals such as an elephant, a monkey, a bird and a fish attending an interview. The interviewer in that image said for the sake of fairness, all the interviewees will have to take the same exam- climb a tree. For me, that sums up our educational system.

 

Doyin: We are blinded by the fact that we all share same physical characteristics – Hands, Legs. Etc. We don’t accommodate the differences in humans. People have different learning capacities, People have different potentials. We can’t impose what we feel on students. We can’t continue to teach what to think but rather how to think.

 

Moyo: Exactly my point

 

The Octagon:  Clearly the educational revolution Nigeria needs won’t come on a platter. One issue that stands out is the “one size fits all” system.  What are the tangibles and intangibles required to facilitate the process of changing this system?

 

Doyin:  First recognise the different learning styles, then recognise possible limitations – like the presence of a learning disability or mental disability. Third we should let kids explore their minds, train them to be thinkers, encourage innovations and entrepreneurial skills. Fourth we should think in line of the 21st century. Fifth people making the decision about education like the curriculum should actually be in the system, be attending classes, be facing this things first hand, not people who haven’t seen the four wall of the classroom since their graduation. But because they are in power they make decisions based on what worked for them not what works now. In this line One Word Africa has invented the Support Curriculum. I shouldn’t say invent, but we restructured the curriculum provided by the ministry of education, accommodated the British and Montessori curriculum, putting into consideration learning disabilities, mental disabilities and physical disabilities.

 

E Nyamador: The curriculums of the international schools around the world (CIE, Edexcel, IB etc) are quite flexible to the extent almost every child with a learning disability can fit in and learn something but that is not the case with ours. Most of the students in these international schools cannot thrive in our schools.

 

Moyo: I agree. Those creating curriculum should be classroom teachers not some political officials. Primary school teachers should create primary school curriculum not University professors creating primary school curriculum.


Tolu: I advise all passionate educators to participate actively in changing the educational system of our beloved country.

 

Doyin: Good points stated here. But I do not totally agree with you. I have been able to review four major curriculums – The Nigerian, The British, The Montessori, and Finland’s. Putting major highlights on the Nigerian curriculum (I don’t hate Nigeria as a matter of fact am in love with the country and I feel we can do so much more than we are doing now, we have the capacity to pull off anything we want to pull off here in Nigeria). But the way the curriculum is structured, I personally would not use it, learning your culture and heritage is amazing, no doubt about that but learning it to do what with it?

I’m sure if we think deep we would come up with ways to use what we learn from the culture and heritage of Nigeria, but there’s no follow up in the curriculum that gives room to harnessing that. That said, I agree with you about not focusing on other curriculums but focusing on Nigeria’s but the way the situation is as of now. We had better learn from others who have gotten it right. We need to train products that can compete globally. Another point you stated about the teachers. Yes agreed the structure in itself has different faults. It would take more than a 1 hour conversation to tackle it. Some teachers are not supposed to be teachers. First teaching has to stop being a course that is open to all. The criteria needs to be high for admission requirements. The way medical students, engineering or law students go through so much just to get into school is the same way it needs to be for teachers.  So that we can easily filter the mass in the field and have just the passionate ones that know what teaching entails. As long as we have teaching as an option for anyone who didn’t get their specific courses in schools, o someone who just doesn’t want or stay at home pending admission, We will always get a lower quality than what we expect.

I won’t agree to ignorance. Some “teachers” are not ignorant – they just need to be ripped of the title because they are not “teachers”.  Let’s forget about the problems for now and let’s focus on what learning is and what education ought to be, that’s when we can really get a solution.

What is Education?

What is learning?

What is a brain?

How does it work?

What is the 21st century about?

What are the new things that are likely to happen in the next century?

What are the required things the students need to know to be future ready?

How can we teach them?

What tools?

What resources?

What are the possible limitations that would stop this from happening? (This part will open our minds to accommodate learning disorders, physical disabilities, and mental disorders)

When we know this then let’s move on to answering the question

How can we make it work in spite of this limitations?

Until then, please stop fighting for the rights of students to gain access to free education, some of them are better off, with being taught a skill that they can make money from.

TheOctagonYouthSpeak on the educational system vs the job market

Posted on: November 28th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Welcome To The Octagon.

We appreciate you taking time out to join this chat session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Femi: I am ‘Femi Akinseye, a 300 level Mass communication student at the University of Lagos. I am a part-time creative writer and voice-over artist. I also doodle in my notebook. I am very passionate about politics.

Beatrice: I am Nwoko Beatrice, a student of Mass Communication, university of Lagos. I am a motivational speaker. I love kids and music.

Afolabi: My name is Afolabi Oluwatosin Oluwabusayo, a student of mass communication, Unilag

Aramide: I am Ayinla Aramide. I’m a 300level student of sociology.

Adeola: I am Adeola Omotoye, a 300 level student of Mass Communication.

Shittu: Good evening everyone. I am Shittu Adedoyin. A student of Philosophy.

Inioluwa:  Hi guys, my name is IniOluwa and I am a passionate person focused on community development and nation building.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Our topic today is around the Educational System Vs Job Market.

The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is alarming and this is no news to even students still seeking admission into the universities. There is however, the hope that after the four years in school, an individual will get the opportunity to not only be hired but also get paid really well.

There is has also been the discussion that many companies complain about the quality of students finishing from Nigerian schools as they do not meet up with requirements and standards.

Do you believe that the educational system is adequately preparing you for the job market? Give reasons for your response.

Aramide: No. I mean there are courses that are offered in Nigerian Universities, where those who graduated with a degree cannot get a decent job. They usually have to switch courses for a second degree. The educational curriculum has not been reviewed in years, and it’s still breeding clerks and teachers rather than professionals. Undergraduates are not trained according to the needs of the modern Nigerian society, but according to years of repeated schemes of work. Also, the budget allocated towards education is nothing to write home about. Education is the bedrock of society, and it breeds other social institutions. But even the minister of education is clueless about managing the system. The reality is that not everyone needs to go to University. University has been seen as the yardstick for greatness, but I think Polytechnics are even more important – they teach technical and vocational skills that a graduate can use in the work force. Yet, people attend Polytechnics as a last resort to avoid staying at home. The educational system is in Shambles.

Beatrice: I think we need re-orientation. Most students just study to pass. No practicals, no genuine interest in what they’re doing. Most kids are forced to go to school. Not everyone is cut out for Formal Education.

ADEOLA: But we can’t exactly say the educational system is not preparing us because without the knowledge acquired there, we won’t understand the field of study we are pursuing. Then again, the situation of the country is not helping our educational standards because most people don’t use their acquired skills at their jobs

FEMI: It’s no news that well over half the students that graduate from Nigerian universities remain unemployed for a while. While we understand that there are hardly any jobs in the labour market and the government doesn’t really have any clear policy in place to combat that, the real question remains ARE THESE GRADUATE EMPLOYABLE?

The simple answer is no. At least a vast majority aren’t.

Our educational system is structured in such a way that the students right from secondary school are bombarded with information that is most likely irrelevant to their eventual career paths and they aren’t even given adequate orientation concerning the various available university courses to choose from and most importantly what to consider when making a choice.

These students eventually leave secondary schools and proceed to the University without a proper understanding of what they want to study and what they’ll do with what they’ve studied.

After getting the admission, they’re faced with a university curriculum that is archaic and outdated to say the least. They are also taught by lecturers who really have little or no field experience and are not in tune with modern day requirements for success.

It’s hardly possible for anyone to graduate with enough skills required to succeed in this kind of system, hence the unemployability.

ARAMIDE: True talk. I think students need to know that university education is not a do or die affair. If there are quality Fashion schools, Art schools and other vocational colleges, people would complain less about unemployment. Most business schools in Nigeria are only accessible to students who studied Business Admin as their first degree. Nigeria probably has the highest number of Primary and Secondary Schools in West Africa, and yet we have graduates that cannot even articulate their thoughts properly.

ADEOLA: This country’s system of education is lagging behind and this is one of the reasons many of the rich would rather send their students abroad to study and if they study here, they will do their masters abroad. When I start hearing stories and motivational quotes of the world’s greatest people and how they have succeeded without education, I just can’t help but wonder where this education is taking me.

FEMI: Another thing to consider is the amount of time spent in school and how judiciously(or not) the time is used.

A kid who goes to school everyday and learns fine art for only one hour a week out of the Available 30 hours or more, and then returns home to take some extra lessons which deprives him of time to practice design that he may eventually find himself pursuing a career in – Eg. art directing.

How then does such a kid reconcile the lost hours taking irrelevant irrelevant physics classes?

How does he make up for that lost time that his mates probably spent focusing on the arts?

Inioluwa: As a recent graduate, I cannot say that the education I received from the university has made me employable. Apart from a brief internship, I know next to nothing about companies criteria for employment. Education is not the culprit here, but rather management, policies and exposure are the real issue.

Shittu: Well, I do not think the educational system adequately prepares one for the job market. If it does,then every graduate would get employed easily. The educational system in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. We need creativity and ideas not just sitting in a lecture room and studying the same thing over again. For example, philosophers are supposed to be critical thinkers but in the university today, we do not study philosophy, we just study philosophers. After graduation, most students only know about the philosophy of philosophers and do not have their own philosophy.

Imagine this type of student being called for an interview, how would the life of Plato and Aristole get him a job ?

In the end the educational system just teaches us everything about nothing . It is after school we now begin to develop our personal skills which we are not given the opportunity to express in the lecture room.

Aramide: Agreed. There’s also the issue of conformity. In Nigeria, we conform too much. We shy away from speaking english with our accents. Take a look at China – English and other European languages are electives. You study them not because you have to.

(continue to next page)

Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa?

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by The Moderator 4 Comments

Welcome to the Octagon

The Octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end at 5pm (1 Hour). We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ?

Gbenga: I’m Gbenga Totoyi. Head, People & Process for L5lab – a Tech firm with interest in Venture Creation and Funding across Africa. I’m deeply interested in helping folks resolve their career related challenges.

Debola: I’m Adebola Olomo – MD Deefrent Limited (Digital Agency – Web & Online PR/Marketing) nice to be here.

Ope: Hello guys, this is Ope. I’m a growth strategist with D’mastermind. We enable businesses grow.

Ibrahim: Good afternoon all. I’m Ibrahim Fearon, Managing Partner 1StepAhead Consultants. We do HR consulting, recruitment, vocational education for youth, and training.

Yvonne: Hello everyone, I’m Yvonne Anakwe, i lead Procurement,Travels and Logistics and Office Management at Fbn Capital

Bankole: Hi, I’m Bankole Ojo-Medubi. Managing Partner at Westwood Works. I’m an architect who specializes in woodwork and shipping container construction. Also COO at Fashion For Charity.

Demola: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, my name is Demola Adeyemo,  I worked as a HR executive @Gr8an and studying an action learning MBA and focusing on HR. Good to be here.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Let’s Begin.

There has been the talk about high unemployment in Nigeria in spite of the number of graduates from our higher institutions for a few years now. This has been attributed to two factors; high pay demands vis-à-vis low returns in business and the qualification of hands for available roles. Employers seek people who will fit with their company strategy and more importantly deliver the sort of value that will ensure the organization is profitable. Amidst these challenges more and more business owners are now faced with the question of hiring a graduate or non-graduate for value sake.

Some people are of the opinion that the academic setting is an artificial place where people are highly trained to succeed only in a specific environment. At the end of the day, people with a college degree are far more highly employed and make more money than those who don’t graduate.

What are the biggest challenges employers of businesses face in Nigeria today? Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa? Why? Would you agree with the school of thought that so many Nigerian organizations are seeking over qualified employees? Should industry pricing determine salary structure or should this be determined by each organization?

Gbenga: You can’t take away Industry pricing in certain sectors e.g Banks but, then more and more organizations are reviewing their peculiar talents, and their plans to stay afloat through these tough times. Organizational needs will always be different per time hence, the need to approach Talent Management differently – from type to cost, training and the likes. Personally, I will hire a non-graduate for ‘specific roles’ where I know they fit in or offer more value.

Debola: Some job roles allow for skill quest over degree but yet I will expect them to finish getting a degree while working. But will hire a skilled programmer with no formal degree over a graduate with lesser skill or passion. I believe the biggest challenge employers face is actually finding the right talent to fit dynamic new systems of business whilst using old formats of selection. But the crop of graduates these days though…..

Bankole: The reality for me, is that I have little choice in the matter. Graduates are very scarce in my line of work.

Ibrahim: Industry pricing as Gbenga said can’t be taken away from certain sectors.. However in my opinion I have employed a lot of non graduates for their passion, drive and have turned out to be of better value than graduates. However for organizations, Its all about fit, managing talent to ensure results are delivered. Graduates these days are struggling because we have half baked teachers who have no clue at all.

Gbenga: Half baked teachers in unapproved schools teaching courses that are no longer needed in the marketplace. I doubt if our universities and the associated elements see what the real need/focus of higher education should be about. Sure we all know a few who see it purely as money centres or places of pleasure/fun with the younger generation.

Demola: Would I hire a graduate or a non graduate? I can hire a non graduate that meets particular criteria as pertains to the job description and the strategic directions of the company. However this decision would be dependent on several background factors.

Ope:  I think the main point for me is, I need to get people who can add value to my organisation. Self starters, people who can think, plan and also execute. The question is do our universities produce these quality of people. Maybe, maybe not. While I do not rule out education as a bedrock for success in career, organisations of today need more than just having a degree for the sake of having one.

Bankole: In a previous, octagon conversation, someone said we have a generation of strategists and no implementers. But,  we also have a large untapped resource of millions of people that are our low skilled workers that have been totally ignored by the system.

Demola: But is it the graduates fault or the lecturers fault? I think our systems are stagnant whilst the business topography is rapidly changing always.

Ibrahim: Demola, The buck lies with leadership. How many professors do we have yet our educational system is comatose, what is the government doing to improve where we are today? Reason I say government is because unemployment levels 16-30 are ridiculous. In Kaduna state its 87%. Now tell me will anyone be willing to take on some of these youth who are tomorrows future? There needs to be a stronger emphasis on education in our businesses so that there’s a trickle down effect.

Gbenga: Demola, Great point on the stagnation..which is why I strongly believe, the onus is on young adults to wake up to the realities of the Marketplace and adjust asap. In my line of work though, I’ll rather put the Leadership debate at the foot of young adults – government all over the world is overwhelmed and can’t afford to ‘fix everything’.

Yvonne: For me it all boils down to the industry. Depending on what line of business I will employ either. Industry and role determines who to employ, I mean if you are employing a Doctor, it better be one who went to college. Some roles do need some sort of formal education. In the Industry where I work, which is Financial, about 80% of the roles there require you have more than a 1st degree plus experience and one can’t dispute that. To be honest guys higher education adds some Polish and finesse to a workers skill. I’ve seen it over and over again. Education is very important. It’s best they have some degree, at least it puts some structure to their passion, but I will take the skill and passion if good, but yet encourage education.

Bankole: True. But a lot of graduates aren’t ready to learn the workers skill, so there’s nothing to lay the polish and finesse over.

Yvonne: Hey Bankole, that is where training and motivating the staff comes to play.

(Continued on Next Page)
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