Since the Musa Yar’Adua led-administration declared education as one of the seven-point agenda, stakeholders and concerned Nigerians have continued to identify problems and possible solutions for the sector which holds the key for scientific, technological, political and socio-economic growth of any nation.
This explains why some state governments and proprietors of private educational institutions have in the recent times called for concerted efforts for the improvement of quality of education as to meet the challenges of vision 2020.
One of such vocal Nigerians is the Rivers State-born educationist and one-time chairman of Private School Owners Association in Rivers State, Mr. Alex Ellah who said that inconsistency in education policy and weak legal framework to punish examination offenders as a major challenge that poses the successful implementation of education policies and programmes in the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Tide in Port Harcourt recently, Mr. Ellah also identified high placement of premium on paper qualification, instead of merit and practical experience as another problem threatening educational development and growth in Nigeria.
Mr. Alex Ellah who is the proprietor of Chilex Group of Schools, Port Harcourt argued that a closer look into the education policies and programmes since independence of the country in 1960, there has always been crisis in education policy and implementation.
He however, acknowledged that there has been an increase in the number of secondary and tertiary institutions as well as in the enrolment of school age but said that there was absence of effective machinery to ensure standard and quality over the years.
Mr. Ellah who is also the Acting Chairman of Rivers State Indigenous Private School Owners Association in Rivers State maintained that time has come for government at all levels and other stakeholders in the sector to put adequate machineries in place to encourage excellence, healthy academic competition above all provision of conducive environment for teaching and learning if the Federal Government’s intention of making education one of the programmes of the administration is to be realised.
|In the light of this, Mr. Ellah advocated for a stiffer measure against schools and officers involved in large scale examination fraud, irrespective of their status and position in the society.
Besides, he wants the government to find out why some public and private colleges operate special centres for special candidates, adding that government’s investigation has become imperative as he accused such centres as places for examination fraud.
The educationist told The Weekend Tide that the operation and activities of such institutions negates the principles of academic competition, excellence and merit which he pointed out lacked in most government and private schools across the country.
He blamed money-minded schools principals and proprietors as well as some parents and guardians who are desperate to ensure that children obtain papers they could not defend here and outside the country.
He was of the view that the creation of special centres in our educational system has done great harm than good as the institutions roll out half-baked students.
Commenting on the place of private schools in the revolution going on presently in Rivers State in the education sector, Mr. Alex Ellah disclosed that Rivers State indigenous private school owners association had met recently in Port Harcourt with a view to re-dedicating themselves to Rivers State government desire and determination to improve quality and standard of education as well as improvement of teaching and learning environment in the state.
Although, he acknowledged that the challenges are enormous but maintained that they owe the people and government a duty to key into the move to make Rivers State a model in education development.
He lauded Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for the construction of model primary and secondary schools in the 23 local government areas adding that it has never been so good and programmatic in the state in the past.
Mr. Ellah also noted that Rivers State is widely endowed with human and natural resources than any states of the Federation, adding that what was expected is prudent management of the resources for the advantages of the people.
“It will be wrong for the government and private school proprietors to fail in provision of quality and standard of education in the state,” he emphasised.
According to him, it was in realisation of this that the association sees itself as an instrument and partner in the efforts to realize the dream of Amaechi’s administration for education in the state.
On various scholarships of government at all levels, the educationist described such schemes as bold and programmatic steps by government and individual to give equal opportunity and access to education.
He however picked holes on the conduct and selection process, pointing out that almost all the beneficiaries of such scholarship schemes are children of government officials, their friends and political associates or few individuals who are highly placed in the society.
According to him, the real and more qualified candidates the less privileged people are always denied access to such schemes as the forms are shared among politicians, government officials and some individuals in the country.
To this end, he wants the government and the agencies responsible for disbursement of scholarship forms to ensure openness and transparency in the selection process to ensure that qualified persons are given opportunity irrespective of status in the society.
While accepting that Rivers State under the leadership of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has witnessed giant strides in development in education, health, electricity and infrastructural growth, he quickly called on the governor to ensure that few individual in and outside the government do not work against successful completion of the noble projects.
He also challenged the people of the state particularly parents to ensure proper moral up-bringing of the children.