ISSUE: Stakeholders Call For Redesigning 6-3-3-4 System Of Education To Boost Economy
By Shittu Obasa
A cross-section of stakeholders in the education sector have called on the Federal Government to redesign the 6-3-3-4 system of education operating in the country to produce more entrepreneurs in keeping with current state of Nigeria.
The stakeholders made their positions known in a national survey.
In Abeokuta, the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools of Nigeria (ASUSS) called for a review of the 6-3-3-4 system of education now producing job seekers contrary to its original concept and objectives to churn out self-reliant school leavers and graduates.
This, the union said, was because of its “failure and inability to provide desired solution to
Nigeria’s education challenges.’’
The Chairman of the Ogun chapter of the union, Mr Akeem Lasisi, recalled that the system was introduced in 1982 by the Federal Government.
He said the system stipulated six years in primary school, three years in Junior Secondary School, another three years in Senior Secondary School and four years in a tertiary institution.
Lasisi explained that the system had the primary focus of meeting the educational needs of Nigerians and equipping the youths with marketable skills that would make them self-reliant.
He, however, observed that the system has lost its focus and called for measures to tackle the continued slide in standard of education.
According to him, the system is good in itself but had suffered bad implementation due to inadequate manpower.
“By manpower, I mean trained technical teachers who are capable of handling the vocational aspects of the programme.
“ The problem of inadequate manpower was compounded by the fact that majority of the teachers who were employed to teach under the system were trained under the old system,’’ he said.
The chairman also blamed the failure on lack of necessary equipment and workshops to train students in technical education.
“Generally, there was lack of adequate resources to implement at full scale the 6-3-3-4 system of education because some schools had equipment but not structures.
“Some had equipment and workshops but no staff to guide the students,” he said.
The chairman also identified the scrapping of the Higher School Certificate as a major setback for the 6-3-3-4 system of education.
He described the HSC as a preparatory class meant to sharpen the intellect of the successful SS3 students ahead of the university education.
Dr Dapo Odukoya, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Tai Solarin University of Education, (TASUED), noted that funding was crucial to the efficient implementation of the school system.
He called on government at all tiers to allocate an appreciable percentage of their incomes to the education sector for proper execution of education policies.
“The Federal Government must guarantee equal access to quality education by working closely with the state and local governments on uniform standards and infrastructure maintenance,
“I advise governments at all levels to also stimulate the participation of the private sector and development partners in providing necessary wherewithal for effective teaching and learning,” he said.
A civil rights activist, Jacob Ilesanmi, said implementation of the system was faulty.
This, he said, was due to non-availability of the right type of personnel, materials, funding as well as absence of political will.
Speaking in the same vein, a retired school principal, Mr Kunle Abegunde, said the programme failed to achieve the desired impact basically due to poor implementation strategies.
“Is it not funny to you that for several years after the introduction of the system, there were no relevant structures and facilities to back it?
“ The nation’s education system took a turn for the worst,’’ he said.
He canvassed a reversal to the old system of education.
A professor of Sociology at Ekiti State University, Oluwadare Christopher, challenged government at all levels and their policy formulators to always carry out indepth analysis and critical assessment of proposals.
Oluwadare, who doubles as Director of Human Development and Management of the university, also advised governments to first carry out thorough research on what kind of policy was workable on the Nigerian terrain before adopting it.
In Akure, Mr Taiwo Bamigbade, the Senate President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), described the 6-3-3-4 system as a departure from the British 6-5-4 system of education.
Bamigbade stated that the system was a hybrid of pre-vocational and academic subjects whose essence was to impart knowledge of different departments in different levels.
He decried the position of the national government’s investment in education in the last three decades, saying it had been abysmally low.
The NANS leader, therefore, urged the government to invest heavily in providing an environment conducive to learning.
Mrs Deborah Fakorede, an educationist, said that the major impediment to the original concept of 6-3-3-4 system was bad leadership, describing as not worthwhile the free education offered by government.
Fakorede regretted that the school environment had not been conducive for learning.
Fakorede, who owns Bright Track Primary School, Oba Ile, noted that it was pathetic that those with low marks were admitted into tertiary schools and later become teachers.
“Government has forgotten that these are the people that would later become teachers and you can only give what you have.
“The surviving technical and vocational schools are no longer catered for neither are they monitored to achieve their aims and objectives in national growth and development,” she said.
The educationalist, therefore, urged government at all levels to see education as the only way to move the country forward.
She advised the government to do away with politicking that could hamper the good implementation of its education policy.
The expert added that the major way of assessing this system of education was through the curriculum.
In Osogbo, the Permanent Secretary of the Osun Universal Basic Education Board, Alhaji Fatai Kolawole, said the education sector would have witnessed a turnaround if the 6-3-3-4 system had been faithfully implemented.
Kolawole, who noted that the system was introduced in 1986 with the aim of achieving a better educational system, said the vocational and technical skill aspect of the system made it to be unique.
“If the system is faithfully implemented, there is no doubt that Nigeria would have been better for it.
“ Our graduates would have been better for it and our nation would also have been better for it in terms of progress and development,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Dr Adewumi Adebisi, a Lecturer at the Department of Adult Education and Life Long Learning, Faculty of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said adequate and effective implementation was the only solution to the challenges facing the 6-3-3-4 system of education.
Adebisi, who argued that the system was the best for students, said it would help them to be self-reliant rather than seeking white collar jobs.
He said the major problem in the 6-3-3-4 education was the problem of proper implementation.
Contributing, Mr Abdullah Muhammed, the Secretary of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in Osun, said the 6-3-3-4 education system needed urgent adjustments.
According to Muhammed, the secondary education in the country needs to have its own commission like other tiers in the education system.
He said if a Secondary Schools Commission was established, career officers would be able to fashion out a blueprint which would help the government to improve the standard of education.
Mr Festus Olajide, the Permanent Secretary, Osun Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, however, said the poor attitude of students, parents as well as teachers to education had contributed to the falling standard of education in the country.
Olajide said while some parents were fond of registering their wards for external examinations in ‘miracle centres’, many of the teachers do not have the required skills to teach.
In Ibadan, Prof. Olusegun Ajiboye, the Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigerian(TRCN), said that the TRCN was ensuring that government professionalises the teaching profession.
“The issue of teachers’ professionalism as being advanced by TRCN will ultimately improve the quality of education in the country,’’ he said.
Mrs Jumoke Solanke, a teacher at Orita-Mefa Baptist Model School, Ibadan, said it was obvious that the standard of education had fallen, blaming government for not helping the situation.
According to her, delaying teachers’ salaries is also one of the major factors affecting the quality of education in the country.
“These teachers are also human beings with feelings and with dependants.
“ When they are unable to meet their basic needs in life, their morale gets dampened and it reflects in their attitude to work,’’ he said.
She said hardworking teachers were handicapped when materials to work with are unavailable.
“ For instance, how do you effectively teach the science subjects, which are more practical, without fully equipped laboratories or workshops?
“Lack of adequate and relevant teaching materials cannot, therefore, be overlooked, ” she said.
Solanke said that the society no longer rewarded academic excellence, adding that students see no reason to strive for it.
“What do you expect in a situation whereby corrupt leaders are celebrated?
“These students see what goes on in the society and they erroneously think less of education, ” she said.
Mr Musbau Abdulkareem of the Department of Political Science, College of Education, Oro Kwara, called on the Federal Government to scrap private schools in order to improve education standard in the country.
He said public schools had been neglected as Nigerian leaders were no longer interested in repositioning them.
“Our public schools should not just be abandoned. At times, when I pass through some well known public schools, I shed tears as there is nothing to write home about.
“You see collapsed and dilapidated buildings, you hardly see qualified teachers anymore in secondary schools as everyone has being hired to work in private schools,” he said.
Kazeem Adekanye, the Chairman of Irepodun Local Government Council of Kwara, advocated the concession of primary education management to councils in order to develop the sector.
Adekanye said that the councils remained the closest tier of government with firsthand knowledge of development at the grassroots.
The council boss said that education at the primary level remained the bedrock and foundation toward achieving the desired quality and qualitative learning and must not be toyed with.
Prof. Noah Oyedeji of the Department of Educational Management of the University of Ilorin observed that Nigeria’s educational policy has lost its essence due to instability.
Oyedeji said political influence had interfered with the workability of the system which could be further enriched through a well funded research and robust economy.
Prof. Isaac Abimbola of the Department of Science Education, University of Ilorin, said that a major characteristic of educational policies in Nigeria was policy inconsistency.
“The policies vary as the ministers come and go at an alarming rate.
“For instance, within the past decade that a civilian rule was re-introduced in Nigeria, there have been more than a dozen ministers of education, which roughly translates to about one minister per year,” he said.
The professor also opined that the system of education in Nigeria provides little opportunities for students to engage in insightful learning (self-instruction) because they were always taught by either teachers in schools or coaching classes as well as parents and siblings at home.
Dr Chris Ubi, an educationist who said that the 6-3-3-4 system had nothing to do with the falling standard in education, pointing out that the idea was well intended.
He said: “There is no policy that is actually meant to reduce standard but rather it was initiated as a means of finding solution to the problem.
“But I think that the problem is not the policy but the attitude of students. Teachers are trying their best but the students are not ready to learn and that is just the truth about the whole thing.’’
A retired School Principal, Mr Lazarus Ejom, said that the primary aim of the policy has failed because the entire education system has failed.
According to him, the idea is to ensure gradual and steady growth from the primary school level to the tertiary level.
“So the whole essence of the policy has not worked as planned,’’ he said.
He also said that it is regrettable that even after Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSSCE) one still discovers today that a majority of the students cannot write a sentence.
He called for the formulation of a new policy to reflect the present reality.
A school proprietor, Mrs Elizabeth Young, said that the failure of the policy should be blamed on the advent of social media.
“I do not think any national policy of education will work now because of over addiction of students on social media platform.
“In my school, sometimes you find teenagers using handsets to browse and when you asked them some will tell you `my mummy bought it for me or my daddy bought for me’.
“So with this kind of attitude by parents and guardians it is very difficult for any system to work, no matter how hard those in the sector try. But we will continue to do our best,’’ she said.
Dr Jeremiah Yabefa, the Rector, Bayelsa Collage of Arts and Science, said that lack of Guidance and Counselling professionals in schools marred the vision for the system.
Yabefa expressed worry over poor educational policies implementation in the country.
He also pointed out that lack of manpower is the bane of the system and urged regular training and recruitment of qualify teachers.
“Yes, the 6-3-3-4 system of education was designed to inject functionality into the Nigerian school system, by producing graduates, who would be able to take a stand for the best.
“In this situation, I must say that the policy has not achieved its aims and objectives; we must go back to the drawing board for a lasting solution,’’ he said.
Dr Ebimie Tamuno, a lecturer at the Niger-Delta University, identified underfunding, poor infrastructure, inadequate classrooms and teaching aids like libraries as major impediment to the system.
Tamuno urged government at all levels to commit vast resources towards the school infrastructure and education manpower to ensure the propagation of worthwhile knowledge.
A retired teacher and parent, Mr Lambo Egitem, expressed conviction that Nigeria has the manpower to excel in every human endeavour especially education.
“Manpower is readily available in the plan to improve the educational system, it is only that the nation is suffering from proper policy implementation and politicking of the system, Egitem said.
Egitem said that all hands be on deck to revamp the 6-3-3-4 system of education, adding that the three tiers of government should strengthen the system through strong policies.
A Port Harcourt-based administrator, Dr Williams Wodi, called for the convocation of a national education summit to address challenges in the nation’s education sector and its national curriculum.
Wodi, a Deputy Registrar (Information), University of Port Harcourt, also said that the standard of the 6-3-3-4 system had fallen.
He blamed the fall in standard of the 6-3-3-4system of education to inability of the Ministry of Education and other education planners to fully implement a national curriculum.
According to him, frequent changes in curriculum and inability of education planners to elicit opinions from stakeholders are partly responsible for the fall in education standard.
“The problem with our education is not enactment of policies but the problem has always been how to faithfully and vigorously implement such policy to the latter.
“We have had several policies on education which appears that Ministry of Education at both national and state level simply sit down and manipulate curriculum without inputs from stakeholders.
“For instance, the last policy they had had not actually been fully implemented and the value chain has not been harnessed; and now they are proposing a new one.
“One wonders if they (policy makers) have a clear idea of what this continuous policy summersault have on the psyche of students that are compelled to pass through a new curriculum.
“These frequent changes in our curriculum are counterproductive especially when the former has not lived its full lifespan before being superimposed with a new one,’’ he said.
Wodi said the way forward was to convene a national summit on education.
He said such summit should feature stakeholder, such as parents, civil society organizations and “practicing teachers” starting from primary schools to universities.
He expressed optimism that the summit featuring primary education stakeholders rather than politicians would brainstorm and proffers solution that would improve education standard in the country.
According to him, the quick fix approach is a short term plan which has brought more harm than good in the country.
He said: “The stakeholders do not have to attend the summit under a union which doing so may restrict them to talk freely.
“The stakeholders are the ones who will tell what they are passing through; and if the authorities know what they passing through, then we can forge a way forward.’’