The 20th Nigerian Economic Summit opened in Abuja the nation’s FCT from the 18th – 20th March, 2014 with a focus on education. It was aptly themed Transforming Education Through Partnerships for Global Competitiveness. According to the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) the conveners of the annual Economic Summit, the 2014 focus on education is because education is the sector that holds the key to national development and Nigeria’s ability to compete on the global stage.
Experts were gathered from all over the country and from the international community, from government and the private sector, educational institutions and business organisations to debate and seek to find a consensus for transforming our declining educational sector.
“Education has changed the destiny of nations, big and small and we are determined to change our story for the very best” said President Goodluck Jonathan at the opening ceremony of the summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, represented by the Vice President Namadi Sambo. He called for a review of the education sector to meet modern standards.
The NESG was partnered by the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Planning Commission and the Federal Ministry of Finance. And the Provost Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma was on hand as a resource person during one of the design workshop sessions speaking on Teacher Education: Developing a New Generation of Teachers.
At the end of the summit it was established to be a fact that quality education is central for transforming Nigeria into one of the most competitive economies in the world in the 21st century.
Several foundation statements were also released including: Nigeria must migrate from education spending to education investment; education must inculcate the values of leadership, intuition, honesty, integrity and 21st century skills; remodeling the learning environment and physical infrastructure to reflect the character of education, achieving 100% disbursement of education budgets; focus on trending global skills by establishing research and development capabilities in schools; transition from traditional examinations to measuring learning outcomes because what gets measured gets done.
During a review of the critical components of the education transformation a new skill set was suggested for the next generation teacher. Such attributes are that the new teacher must be: passionate, emotionally intelligent, culturally sensitive, tech savvy, technically competent, role model, team player, expert communicator and life-long learner.
The summit also made a few recommendations on the ways to help develop this new generation teacher. They include that colleges of education begin to award B.ed to increase professionalism and upgrading these colleges to deliver world class teacher training; upgrading teacher training to include critical thinking, problem solving and the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning; restructuring the Teacher Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to be like ICAN and the NBA; reviewing conditions of service for teachers especially in areas of wages and career progression and build professional learning communities that include public and private institutions.
Notable attendees and contributors at the summit were Arch. Namadi Sambo, Vice-President, Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Minister of Education, Dr. Elizabeth King, Vice-President, Human Development, World Bank, Mrs. Maryam Katagum, Nigeria’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Dr. Mac-John Nwaobiala, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education.
Others include Prof. Muhammed Junaid, Executive Secretary, NCCE, Prof. Godswill Obioma, Mrs. Joke Silvia, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mr. Babs Omotowa, Mr. Jim Ovia, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Tony Elumelu, His Excellency, Adams Oshiomole and Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma, Provost, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri among many others.
The Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) has become a veritable tool for development in the higher education sub-sector of Nigeria. From its early days as the Education Trust Fund (ETF), the TETFUND has grown to so much that it is now the “de facto” major source for infrastructural upgrade in institutions of higher learning.
With this background, it became pertinent that the Minister of Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike initiated town hall meetings across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria to enlighten stakeholders in the education industry of the impact of increased funding in tertiary education by the Goodluck Jonathan government via interventionist agencies like the TETFUND. The town hall meetings were styled in such a way that the Vice-chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of institutions presented visual and statistical evidence of the deployment of TETFUND monies allocated to their schools.
At the south-east zone meeting held in the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus on Tuesday 11th March, 2014, the Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing C. Ijioma was on hand to showcase the dividends of the deployment of Capital and TETFUND funds in our college from 2010-2013. Her 10 minutes PowerPoint presentation showcased buildings (Prof. Nwagwu lecture theatre, New Science Building, PHE building, New Education Block, On-going administration building), furniture, library equipment, laboratories, vehicles and staff development training etc.
The stakeholders’ meeting was interesting as it showcased the best efforts of this government to support education in our public schools. The Minister revealed that in the 3 years under review, the government had increased TETFUND allocation across board, including both the normal interventions and the special interventions. However, it was noted that billions of funds were still not accessed by institutions because of lack of adherence to TETFUND rules.
In Alvan Ikoku, the College Management works round the clock to ensure that all TETFUD monies accruing to the College is accessed speedily and TETFUND regulations adhered to to ensure the flow is not compromised. It must be noted that TETFUND intervention enabled the College to have a memorable and golden celebrations last year with upgraded infrastructure and increased staff training.