Piqued by the comatose state of the nation’s education sector, given the dearth of facilities, shortage of quality teachers and obsolete curriculum resulting in low standard of education, a don at Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, has called for a deliberate action and political will on the part of the government to tackle the rot, and reposition the sector for optimal performance.
Odewumi, a Professor of Transport Planning and Policy, and former Dean School of Transport and Logistics, who in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph, said the first major step expected the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to take in revamping the ailing education system, is to revive or reintroduce the Higher School Certificate (HSC) otherwise referred to as Sixth Form or A’Level into the school system.
This was as he stated that HSC had been a stop-gap between secondary school and university education for students to be more mature, acquire more knowledge and experience before proceeding for higher education. While appraising the sector vis-à-vis the tasks before the new government, the don said: “I want to suggest the following to the Presidentelect.
First, let him return the Higher School Certificate into the secondary school education system at the Federal Government Colleges across the nation.” He, however, based his suggestion on three most crucial areas, which the don said, is to create a safe pool for the large population of secondary school finishers that could not secure admission into the tertiary institution due to limited spaces, especially in the university system. Also, Odewumi noted that the multitudes of children completing their secondary education earlier than age 16, which is the minimum age for entry into public universities in particular, would be absorbed into the two-year HSC from, where he or she would have gained some level of maturity.
He noted that these large number of precocious children with superlative performances in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE); National Examination Council (NECO) and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), who are yearly denied admission on account of being underage, would have been adequately taken care of by the HSC programme.
“We have had many students with the best O’Level results that could not be admitted,” the don stated, adding that the other reason is that the HSC programme, if reintroduced, would go a long way in reducing the burden of the tertiary education system because after successful HSC programme the children will only spend three years instead of four for their university education,” he noted.
Thirdly, Odewumi further explained that research has shown consistently that academic performance of HSC/ A’Level entrants is generally better than the WASC/GCE/ NECO entrants. The don, however, challenged the President-elect in his agenda or programmes for the education sector, saying he has not been forthcoming on what his administration would do in the primary and secondary school education sub-sector. Meanwhile, still in his agenda setting for the new government, the don said he expects the new administration to focus its priority on development of technical and vocational education by revamping and total overhauling of technical education colleges across the country.
To do this, he said the government should implement the technical elements of the 6-3-3-4 system of education curriculum introduced in the 1980s, even as he suggested that teacher education should be given greater attention in order to make it a course of choice for students in the universities. Odewumi said: “Outside my expectations, my total reading of the agenda of the Presidentelect is that he will bring some new dimensions into the administration of the education sector. For instance, he said he will introduce student’s loans and by implication he will direct the tertiary institutions to charge cost recovery school fees. “And, that he will permit the Governing Council of each institution to meet and deal with the demands of the unions under their control. This is what the President-elect refers to as granting academic autonomy to the tertiary institutions.”