A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, By Hussaina Audu
Two events this week formulated my train of thought for this piece.
First of all, on Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council approved the sum of N9.2 billion for the purchase of cooking stoves and wonder bags under the National Clean Cooking Scheme. Never mind that before Wednesday, we had not heard of any such scheme and that there is no mention of this scheme on the Ministry of Environment’s website.
Never mind that this spending does not appear to have been budgeted for, or that “While the FEC said the essence of approving the N9.2 billion is to mitigate the impact of climate change on the one hand, President Goodluck Jonathan has tacitly refused to assent to a Bill seeking to establish a Climate Change Commission in the country. A harmonised version of the Bill was sent to the president since December 2010 but four years after, he is yet to assent to it.” (http://leadership.ng/business/392166/budgetary-allocation-fgs-n9-2bn-stoves)
Secondly, a couple of days ago, I attended a workshop on education which described some innovative tools that are being used in Asia, Europe and America to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning in STEM subjects and also in literacy. As a reflective practitioner, I’m always looking for ways to be more effective and as this workshop was going on, I had one light bulb moment after another.
This is what Nigeria needs! There is hope for us after all! With the right tools, and the requisite training for teachers, and of course, proper incentives, we could turn our failures into successes in as little as ten years.
So, I decided to look for more information. I would look at the website of our Ministry of Education, and find out what we were doing to address our recent national academic failures. Maybe I could write a paper to the Minister and make some suggestions. I would also look at Singapore and the United Kingdom’s websites and see what they were doing as well.
The very first images you see on the homepage of Singapore’s Ministry of Education are of students: sprinters participating in ASEAN School Games, learners celebrating the results of their primary school leaving certificate, another group of learners doing simulation exercises to understand what it’s like to be old, or blind, so these young designers of the future can come up with creative and innovative solutions to the challenges the elderly and the blind face; and special education needs students participating in a programme to help them make the transition from school to the work place. You get an immediate feel of what is happening in education in Singapore. You know education is about the learners and that they are being equipped to become compassionate problem solvers. You know that every section of society is catered for – the old, the young, the physically challenged. No one is left out.
When you go to the homepage of UK’s Department for Education, you see children – in the classroom, on the football pitch, on the playground, and some early years children having a meal. You will also see a picture of what appears to be a staff meeting taking place in the library. Again, you get a feel that education is about the academic development, health and wellbeing, and social welfare of the learners. Educators are in the background, planning. They do not dominate; they undergird the system.
Now access the homepage of the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria. You will see the Federal Ministry of Education building, a picture of the Minister of Education shaking the President, then another view of the building, then the Minister flanked by staff of the Ministry(?), the Minister holding a microphone, and the Minister in the board room with some staff.
You tell me. What does this say about our education in this country? What does it say about the future of this country?
9.2billion naira to import stoves and wonderbags. How about investing that money into education? Perhaps we wouldn’t have to import wonder stoves and wonder bags because we would have creative and innovative designers on our own soil to make them.
But then, maybe if 9.2billion were to be given to the Ministry of Education it would go towards the beautification of the building? Someone has to get a contract. Oh well, as I said earlier, never mind.