Role of UNESCO

At the recent public launch of the ’2013/2014 Education for All Global Monitoring Report in Abuja, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), challenged Nigeria and other African countries to step up their commitment to the development of  Education sector ,especially in the area of teaching and learning. AUGUSTINE OKEZIE explores the present challenges facing the development of Nigeria’s education sector

The United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, (UNESCO)’s charge to governments and relevant stakeholders at various levels to continue to promote Education because of its ability to transform lives, better the lots of the poor and the vulnerable as well as widen developmental goals, is seen by many Nigerians as timely, especially at this critical period of our Educational development.

The Senior Programme officer, UNESCO office in Abuja, Dr. Saidou Sireh at the launch of the 2013/2014 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, further made a rallying call on the public and the media, to continue to promote informed debate on education and to increase public support for efforts aimed at improving education systems, monitor achievements in the education system over time and ensure that standards are not falling.
Also in a key note address at the occasion, an international Education Consultant, Professor Pai Obanya, emphasized the central role the teacher plays in the learning process and in ensuring the growth of quality education. According to him ’’policy makers must support teachers to end the learning crisis’’.

Professor Kabiru Isyaku of the department of Education, Bayero University, Kano, while making a presentation titled: Teacher quality: implications for Achievement, called for a concerted effort in boosting the morale of the teachers. According to him ’’an education system that attracts and retains well rained, motivated, effective and gender balanced teaching staff and supports teachers in their classroom works ,guarantees stable and progressive society’’

There were several goodwill messages from the President, Nigerian Union of Teachers; World Bank; Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Oando foundation and so on, all emphasizing the need for good quality Education, with aged children having unfettered access to schooling and considering the transformative powers that education possesses, a central part in the post 20’ 5 globally development framework is necessary.
It will be recalled that Nigeria in the 1990s joined the MLA (monitoring learning achievement) project led in a number of Africa of African countries by UNESCO and UNICEF. A membership that ensured that efforts aimed at providing useful data on learner achievement and provide the way forward by mobilizing and effectively using  valuable human resources.

Majority of the concerns is that Nigeria must key into UNESCO’s process of assessment that goes beyond merely examining the level of subject-matter mastery by student. A process that is not all about passes or fail affair, but with a radical focal shift to student learning which is the hallmark of education quality. The effort is not all about publishing examination results and lamenting on their poor state and doing nothing afterwards except to set and mark subsequent examination.

In developing Nigeria’s education, there should be adequate  attention on developing a  package with a comprehensive regard for the  environment  (home, community school), leaner characteristics (age, sex, values, attitudes), the conditions for and the processes of learning learning (what the school does, or does not, do-facilities provided by the school for learning development methods used to unleashed learner’s potentials), what learners learn and at what level-compared to a benchmark of what their peers learn and the standard they are expected attain in learning.

There is the need for monitoring educational achievement in Nigeria, especially as part of measures that can help checkmate high rate of failures in public examinations. Monitoring can also provide answers to the prevailing mass failure syndrome in public examinations as it would provide scientific diagnosis of the student learning challenges and education qualify threats for which the system has to find urgent and appreciable cures.
What is also needed is an effective mechanism for getting forcefully stated and continuously enriching process with lessons from field implementation experience. The initiative will be killed if in keeping with our national style we create structure instead of a mechanism, for its implementation.
Professor Kabiru Ishaku’s timely reminder,that’’Nigeria is  a full partner on Education for All (EFA) Declarations both at Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and the Dakar Forum in 2000’’,has risen the bar for the deployment of  new policy drive ,that will ensure the meeting of  internationally set goals. By signing to partner with these international organisations, Nigeria has inadvertently committed herself and cannot afford to lag behind.
EFA has six goals all related to expansion of access, quality, relevance and equity in Education for All – youths, adults, women, and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

The progress towards achieving MDGs and EFA goals means having more pupils in school and, of course, the need for more qualified teaching force and the existence of a virile conducive learning environment and infrastructure. That is the height UNESCO wants Nigeria to Climb.

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