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September 2015


It costs N300,000 to N500,000 to a train senior secondary school student > Adesegun Raheem

Adesegun Raheem is chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, in Lagos State. The seasoned professional teacher, with a master’s degree in education, says Nigeria must overhaul its education system to record better performance in public examinations. He spoke with Joseph Chibueze.

Adesegun Raheem

The West African Examinations Council, WAEC, goofed in the area of statistics and the explanation it gave to the results in a holistic manner. Let me add that the results as poor as it is, 38%, is better than 31% we had last year. The indication is there is a marginal improvement. When you look at the analysis given by WAEC, higher than 61 per cent candidates made more than five credits, but out of that number, a few less had credits in five subjects including English language and mathematics. The question is: what is the yardstick for regarding mathematics as a basis for admission into tertiary institutions? We have said severally as professionals that people who are going to study art related courses do not need a credit in mathematics to read such courses. It is even better if they get into the university and do a course in logic just like law students.

By the time WAEC removes the number of those who could not make credit pass in mathematics, you will discover that the number that met the minimum requirement for admission into higher institutions is far higher than 38 per cent. The performance is poor, there is no debating that, we could do better. The question is why do we have this poor result? The answer is multi facetted. Government policy is number one. Government just woke up one day and introduced 36 subjects into the curriculum that would be examinable in WASSCE without proper planning; I believe the subjects in which the candidates performed poorly could be some of these additions.

The other reason is lack of motivation, how many of the graduates that came out in flying colours are employed? This is because our government did not plan our education towards the needs of the society. Education is an instrument to propel the youths from where they are to fit into the society so that when those who are presently working are retiring, there would be people sufficiently prepared to replace them. Our education planning is not thorough, government brought in foreign ideas, the ideas are good in themselves, but they are not compatible with our culture and societal needs.


Apart from these, our parents are no longer parenting, most do not know how their children do in school. Many do not check their children’s books; they do not visit the schools to know how the teachers handle their children.

Need for a new orientation
Everything has a time lag. Our curriculum is outdated and needs a holistic review not piece meal changes. The curriculum today is tilted towards white-collar jobs because at the time it was designed, before a student graduates he already has two or three places inviting him to work. That era is gone, therefore, our curriculum should tilt towards self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Education emergency 
There is the need to declare a state of emergency in our education system, at least at the primary and secondary levels because that is the foundation. It will allow the federal government to look inwards beyond the budgetary allocation to education to what education really needs. Last year, the Nigerian Economic Summit was adjudged to be the best the country ever had because the best economic egg heads were there, teachers were not invited. The Nigerian Union of Teachers was not invited to attend such an important economic forum to make an input. But at the end, the summit said for the economy of this country to improve, government must invest in teachers. This is the best time for Nigeria to invest in teachers because the level of our education today will determine our Nigeria of tomorrow.

No repeat in class
It is academic fraud. When a child fails a class, the normal thing is for him or her to repeat that class. I believe that is rampant in private schools where the owners want to give parents the impression that their children are doing very well. Again they are only exploiting the fact that parents do not have time to look at what their children are doing.

But we also need to know why the child failed. There could be so many factors that have contributed to why the child failed and if you don’t look into those factors, the child will continue to fail again and again. These are what teachers do in the classroom. Most people out there do not understand what teachers do, they think it is just about getting into the class and writing on the blackboard. No it goes beyond that. The teacher is so many things rolled into one. He is a nurse because he takes care of the child when he/she is not feeling alright, he is a counselor who moulds the child to fit into where his/her ability is, a teacher is also a parent, in some cases the child may not have biro or pencil to write, the teacher provides. So, teachers need to be given the necessary attention that they deserve because they determine what the standard of education will be.

Cost of training
The cost of training a child in senior secondary school depends on the education policy of the state in which the child is resident. In Lagos State for instance where the government has a policy of free education, what is expected of parents is just to provide exercise books, writing materials and a few other things. If you look at the cost implication of that, it is something that anybody can afford.
However, though parents may not be paying, government is paying the bills and it costs government money. If you put everything together for the three years of senior secondary, it should be about N300,000 to N350,000 per student.



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