The year 2013 will end in approximately less than 24 hours time. A lot of events has happened in the outgoing year in the country in virtually all sectors of the economy. While no one is insignificant, everyone of them has played their roles in rewriting Nigeria’s history, here are ten events I think rocked the education sector in 2013.
1. ASUU Strike
The over five-month face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government started on July 1 and was called off officially on December 17. The union had embarked on a strike to demand the implementation of the agreement it reached with the FG in 2009. After a Memorandum of Understanding between the leadership of ASUU and the FG earlier in December was signed, and the confirmation of the payment of the N200bn by the FG into an account opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the union called off the strike to the relief of many, especially students and parents. However, before the strike was called off officially, many universities had backed out of the strike.
2. ASUP and COESU strike
Prior to the ASUU strike, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) had embarked on a strike which lasted for weeks in July. The strike was later called off and academic activities resumed accross the Polytechnics and Monotechnics. After some weeks, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) embarked on another strike and as at this time, Federal Polytechnics and Monotechnics are still on industrial strike.
While the ASUU/FG face-off was at a deadlock, in September, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union(COESU), on August 18, issued a 21-day strike notice to the FG, demanding that the FG address the problems in the sector or risk an industrial action. There were however indications that COEASU may embark on another round of industrial action after the festive season if their demands are not met.
3. The sacking of the Education Minister
There was a cabinet reshuffle in September, and the then Education minister, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i was relieved of her position by President Goodluck Jonathan. Before her appointment in April 2010, Rufa’i had served as Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in Jigawa State. Mr. Nyesom Wike, the then Minister of State for Education has since been appointed as the Coordinating Minister of Education.
4. The proposed change of the country’s Educational Policy
The proposed change to the country’s educational policy was another major issue. Before the removal of the then Education minister, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i had announced plans to re-modify the 9-3-4 system of education to accommodate a new education policy to be known as 1-6-3-3-4. According to Rufa’i, the proposed system followed recommendations of the Presidential Task Team on Education which was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan. It would have seen the introduction of one-year Early Childhood Education to five-year-old pupils before they advance to six-year basic schooling.
In the past, the nation has modified its education policy, from the 8-6-2-3 and 6-5-2-3 education policies. In the former, primary education took eight years, six years for secondary school, two years for Higher School Certificate class and tertiary education was for three years.
5. The Commissioning of Almajiri schools
On November 2, President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned Almajiri model schools that was constructed by his administration to cater for children out of school in the Northern region. Vice President, Namadi Sambo represented the President at the Almajiri Model School at Sade Darazo LGA, Bauchi State. Facilities at the Almajiri schools include; Classrooms, administrative blocks, hostels, staff quarters, Mallams residences and mosques.
6. 25 Students in coma after inhaling industrial fumes
No fewer than twenty five students of Ogba Junior High School Lagos were on October 31st reported to have inhaled industrial fumes alledgedly discharged into a drainage by a company, Bizcircuit Photo Laboratory, located a few meters from the school premises. Officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) were said to have rushed to the school to move the unconscious students to a nearby private hospital and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
7. May/June NECO & Nov/Dec WAEC Results
The significant improvement by students nationwide in the 2013 May/June West African Senior Schools Certificate Examinations results released by the National Examinations Council in September was also a welcome development, when compared to previous years. According to the Registrar and Chief Executive of the Council, Professor Promise Okpala, 69.57 per cent candidates had five credits and above in the June/July examination, while this year also recorded a lower percentage of candidates involved in examination malpractice. Okpala also commented on the improvement in the last three years, that there were “rises in performance from 15.84 per cent in 2011 through 51.66 per cent in 2012 to 69.57 per cent in 2013.”
But it was a different story in the West African Examinations Council examinations, where mass failure was recorded. In the results for this year’s November/December examination for private candidates, 70.83 per cent of the 308, 217 candidates failed to obtain credits in five subjects including English Language and Mathematics.
8. Lagos State govt reaction to a Newspaper report about some Public Schools sitting on tire in the classroom
About two month ago, Punch Newspaper carried out an investigative report which revealed that some public school students were sitting on tires in an unconducive environment. The Lagos state government immediately reacted to the report by providing befitting furnitures for the school while the Principal of the schools was queried for not bringing the situation of the school to the notice of the government before Punch published the report.
9. Hijab in Osun schools
While there were other major events that defined the education sector, the controversy over the wearing of hijab by pupils in public schools in Osun state will not go unmentioned. The Government of Osun state announced the merging of schools in the state. The merging brought students from Islamic public schools to merge with Christian public schools. The Christians in the state held several protest stating that they will not condole the wearing of Hijab in a Christian schools. The Muslim in the state rejected this move by the Christians and a Principal of Baptist Day School, Ejigbo, Osun State was bitten to a state of coma by Muslim youths in the town for allegedly disallowing a student from using her hijab.
10. Bombing of College of Agriculture, Damaturu, Yobe State by Boko Haram
The Boko haram sect struck again several times in the outgoing year. But those that escaped the bombing at the College of Agriculture Damaturu, Yobe State will live to tell the sad story of the attack. The insurgents moved to the college at night and attacked the students. Many were killed while others that escaped were severely injured.
Although most of these events have had crippling effects on Nigeria’s educational sector, it is our hope that 2014 will be a much better year with positive changes that would be for everyone’s benefit.