Prof. Obioma’s NERDC and Nigeria’s education

At a recent interactive media chat in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, Professor Godswill Obioma, did not hide his passion for a transformed and functional education in Nigeria and the Council’s agenda for 2014 to actualize the dream. AUGUSTINE OKEZIE critically evaluates the contributions of the mathematics Professor and the Council to the changing face of the nation’s education sector

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector are united in applauding the contributions of Prof. Godswill Obioma and Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in the overall development of the nation’s education, especially in the area of curriculum development, improvement in the quality of teaching and learning materials, as well as policy formulation and re- structuring.
An insight into the level of contributions so far made in the development of the education sector may be better appreciated thus:

National Policy on Education
One of the major contributions of the Council under the leadership of Prof. Obioma in reshaping Nigeria’s education was the formulation of the National Policy on Education (NPE), which articulates guidelines, objectives, standards, structures, strategies, and management for achieving the national education goals in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s fundamental changes in socio-economic and political structures, wholly dictate the need for a change in policy thrust of the education system and vice-versa.

Prof. Obioma and his team at NERDC, played a major role in implementing the recommendations of the presidential task team on education, report of ministerial directive on the revision of the 2007 edition of the National policy on Education( NPE), and the subsequent production of the 6th edition (2013).

Highlights of the revised National Policy on Education, include the consolidation of 1-year Pre-school, 6-year Primary and 3-year Junior secondary education to a 10-year basic education in line with UBE and its establishment Act 2004; the introduction of a new curriculum structure for the basic education level; a new curriculum structure for senior secondary education and enunciation of the criteria for subject selection for public examinations.

Similarly, the new curriculum for basic education, ensured the evolution of a credible and up-to-date National Education Management and Information System (NEMIS) and corresponding State Education Management and Information Systems (SEMIS); provide outline for better coordination, collaboration and networking of activities, and the interventions of all tiers of government, development partners and all other stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector, to eliminate overlaps and sustain synergy.

Development of the National Book Policy
The development of the National book policy presents another landmark contribution by NERDC. The agency has in collaboration with other core stakeholders, developed the National Book Policy (NBP) on the directive of National Council on Education (NCE).
Some of the objectives of the Policy include: promoting and rewarding local authorship of educational books, and to provide supplementary and general reading materials both in foreign and Nigerian languages as well as create an enabling environment for publishing, providing support services needed for manuscripts.

The book policy was also designed to support and encourage investigation and research into book development, ensure the production of books in specialized areas (e.g. Braille for the visually impaired), support the establishment and growth of libraries at all levels of the educational system etc.

Speaking recently at a media briefing on NERDC’s agenda for the year 2014, Prof. Obioma amplified that the Council’s striving is geared towards promoting and disseminating educational research in the country.

While highlighting the agenda in twelve (12) specific focal areas, he listed Council’s broad goals to include promotion of educational research, curriculum innovations and the promotion of the 6th edition of the National Policy on education.
Other areas of focus include: ensuring that school texts meet the stipulated curriculum standard; repositioning of web site of NERDC for more visibility; making the e-library operational; and ensuring the depository of research works carried out within the country in NERDC.

He further stated that the Council strives to ensure the approval of the National Book Policy, the conclusion of the National Language Policy for Nigeria, Promotion of Albinism Education; Special Needs Education and NERDC Braille Press; as well as Almajiri and Out-of School Youth Curricula for South East and South-South states.

Prof. Obioma disclosed that as part of Council’s effort in promoting curriculum innovations, NERDC has entered into partnership with SIDMACH Technologies Ltd on e-curriculum and resources solutions where the latter has already supplied ICT tools needed for monitoring the project services as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding. By this, he hinted that NERDC is introducing an e-curriculum portal that would accord teachers, learners, schools, researchers, etc on-line access to the approved national curriculum and other teacher and learner resources in all Senior Secondary School subjects.

He disclosed that, NERDC has successfully developed, printed and distributed the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC); revised the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC), printed and distributed (Pry 1-3 and JSS1-3); developed, printed and distributed the Senior Secondary Education Curricula (SSEC) which include 40 mainline subjects and 34 trade/entrepreneurship subjects.

The Executive Secretary noted that in the revised 9- year Basic Education curriculum, Christian religious studies and Islamic studies are not only core and compulsory but are taught as distinct subjects which emphasize the role of religion in inculcating national values.

He disclosed that Council is working towards a 2-day international Conference in Partnership with Bhakor Consults Ltd that is geared towards deriving a National Educational Research Agenda that will enable NERDC address research-based missing links to educational development issues in Nigeria.

The NERDC boss also stated that the Council has embarked on the design and establishment of a world standard virtual library which will soon become operational to serve the Council and act as a destination point for research information in Nigeria and the world at large.

The Governing Board Chairman of NERDC, Dr. Stephen Dike, also disclosed that every effort of the Governing Board and management of the Council will be geared towards repositioning NERDC for higher performance and more visibility for global competitiveness.

Dr. Dike represented by a member of the Board, Prof. Mrs. Chinyere Ohiri-Aniche said that “our primary and collective goal is to leverage all resources available to us and employ extant technology to strengthen and reposition NERDC to better achieve its statutory mandates, particularly in the promotion of educational research.

More especially, “we will be focusing on articulating and developing strategies and initiative that will transform the NERDC for greater performance and visibility in fulfilling its mandates for greater competitiveness, and promote credible and empirical research in education, innovations in curriculum development and dissemination, and in education planning and policy formulation and implementation”.

He stated that in the course of the Board’s visit to Council’s corporate headquarters and the Lagos office, it was noted that there was evident under-utilized resources and untapped potentials that could be strategically redeployed for more sustainable outcomes. For example, the National Model School which the Board intends to transform to a Magnet school that “will exemplify quality and performance standards comparable to best international practices”.

Currently, NERDC is collaborating with Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), NABTEB, NBTE, international organization, NGOs, organized private sector, and the host communities towards implementing target intervention for providing opportunities for specific classes of hard-to-reach school age population and the out-of-school youths, especially, in the South-South and the South –East geopolitical Zones.

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