A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) known as Concerned Parents & Educators (CPE) has expressed concern over issues facing the education sector in the country over the years.
The CPE made the comment at a forum in Lagos on Wednesday 26th February, where stakeholders on education discussed issues affecting education and agreed to proffer lasting solutions to the problems.
CPE Convener, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, who spoke with journalists at the forum said that everybody couldn’t be talking about the problem and leaving the problem without a solution.
Ogunde stated the nation needed to take ownership of the problem within the education sector, and that when that is done the people would be able to sit down and seek a way out.
“We need to break down and rebuild again. But how do we rebuild it, there’s need to identify the stakeholders who are very much involved in the scheme of work; the teachers, students, parents, and government agencies so what do we need to do? These are questions we need to ask ourselves and seek a lasting solution to them,” she said.
She said that about five things are affecting education including curriculum, teachers development, how the students themselves love to learn, education funding and parental involvement.
Speaking further, Mrs. Ogunde stated that CPE was redefining the education sector all over Nigeria.
She said; “that’s our focus, every state commissioner for education would soon be from CPE because there are some people that are committed to transforming the educational sector. It is not just about talking, but you just have to make things happen. Words don’t translate into action, and I think that’s what we need as a nation. We should stop talking, we should start doing now.”
She reiterated that every Nigerian just had to start doing something on education now.
The woman revealed that a man called the organization few weeks ago and said that he wanted to take up about 2000 students in the northern part of the country.
She revealed that the man is now paying their school fees, bought them school uniforms, and bags, adding that if it’s only that alone that CPE was able to do, then they had done something better.
According to her, Kano chapter of CPE had given them three schools, and that they would be taking 100 students from each school as a pilot scheme, which she said is about 300 students, whose names she said they had passed to the bank that would finance them so that they could also do their own background check as well.
“For us in CPE, the money is not coming to us, it is going directly to those people who need it. We have churches, Muslim communities that are calling, we just direct them to the school that need them, whether government or private.
“In one of the states that were reported to us, students were wearing torn uniforms and somebody took that up as a project to buy school uniforms for them, that’s part of it.
“We are not government, we could only do a little, if we buy school uniforms, even if it’s hundred of them, have we not done something. We are not out to criticize the government but we partner with them for the benefit of the Nigerian children,” she said.
She however, called on corporate organizations in Nigeria to spend at least a quarter of their income on education, which she said would make things to change drastically in the education sector.
“We also face the teachers, we created teachers development program. CPE is developing curriculum for training teachers, and we are focusing on early year teachers to start with it. We build it in a way to improve their self esteem.
“To know their place in the scheme of things is very important and we want them to know that they are valued.
“We turn to the children, we asked them what their problems are. We asked the parents about their problems.
“We begin to decide systemic solutions to the problems. I know it is possible. Within 6 weeks, CPE was able to inaugurate 21 chapters, and we don’t get money from anywhere apart from the people that desire to support us,” she said.
Also speaking at the meeting, a former deputy governor of Lagos State, who also served as the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Sarah Sosan said that Nigerian children must imbibe the culture of the people, saying that despite the fact that there are different tribes in the country, one thing that is very sure is that there are values in different cultures such as values of honesty, and truth.
Sosan stated that talking about education, there are formal and informal education, adding that these are what one has to do and what one should not to do.
“They are all there, so we are in the technological age, this is 21st century and what we have to know is that there are lots of influences from outside of our country that made our children imbibe their culture.
“Nevertheless, parents should not lose focus, children should pick the good ones from the foreign culture, and combine them with what they are taught in Nigeria to be upright, honest and hardworking.
“They should not pick the ones, whereby they would be talking to elders as if they are mates. They should not copy the one that would require them to put their trousers down.
“Africans have values and they respect elders, we have values of doing things at the right time irrespective of the new technological innovation in the world.
“You even see most people now, they don’t want to speak their mother tongues, they see that as being elitist, it is very wrong.
“For instance, whenever you have a visitor, you want to communicate in the language they wouldn’t understand, that’s the importance of our language. Therefore, we should continue to advocate for our culture and traditional greetings in the work place, educational institutions and everywhere,” she said.
MD/CEO of BrookeHouse, Dr. (Mrs) Ifeoku Omowunmi Thomas, who also spoke during the meeting, said that the movement in the right direction has just started through Yinka Ogunde-led CPE.
“I am so happy for this movement because it is not just about talking again. This has been the issue disturbing the education sector for a long time.
“Learning has to be with individuals, what that tells us is that children learn differently. Some children could be singing while learning, some want a quiet place, they don’t want anything that could disturb them.
“If we know that there are different styles of learning, then teachers would be trained to address every learning style.
“Every teacher would know what style to put together in the scheme of work during the lesson hours or in the classroom so that every child could learn easily. In that case, we would improve in every facet of the society.
“Then the society would produce articulate children with thinking skills, a child that would be able to contribute effectively to the growth of the society. If a child learns all these in school, the society would benefit from it,” she said.