In our quest to unearth the cause of the challenges rocking the educational sector, the EDUCARE NEWS crew caught up with our PERSONALITY of the month, an astute and seasoned educationist, a professional, a leader, and an experienced campaigner in the educational sector.
Dr. Jonathan Akpan, an engineer by profession, hails from Akwa-Ibom State, he is the founder and Chairman of ACCESS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS, and likes to describe himself as the chief messenger of ACCESS SCHOOLS,
A man with passion and empathy for education, he has been in the educational sector for over two decades while contributing immensely to educational development in Nigeria.
The effervescent educational juggernaut spoke extensively on a plethora of issues that borders on Nigeria’s education, the deteriorating standard of education, school children abduction by armed bandits, ICT in Education, the effect of COVID-19, ways to develop education in Nigeria, challenges, and solutions to Nigeria education impasse.
Do you think we have gotten to educational Eldorado in Nigeria?
“I will quote the popular noble laureate Chinua Achebe, who says “things fall apart” Nigeria educational system has fallen apart, the center cannot hold, the outcome of this collapse is as a result of the bandits and kidnapping of school children, my prayer is that it does not go beyond this, if a governor can be attacked by armed men, then what will happen to the ordinary citizen.
The standard of education is really deteriorating, sometimes when I receive application and CVs, you ask candidates can you tell me more about yourself, he doesn’t know what to say, a graduate cannot even write an application letter, there is really ‘fire on the mountain’
The government of the day is paying lip service to education; they keep on stacking money for themselves, and if you are rich and you cannot help the people around you, you may not live to enjoy the money, the government of the day should go back and fix the education sector in Nigeria so that they can go to bed and sleep with their two eyes closed.
What solution would you proffer to the government that will help them nip in the bud the incessant abduction of school children?
“The government has failed to match the word with action; they have not taken punitive measures to deal with these bandits and miscreant perpetrating this act until the government of the day takes a decisive decision, we would continue to move in circles, motion without movement.
The recovered looted money should be used to buy equipment for the military to help in combatting these bandits that want to be a ‘clog in the wheel of progress in our education.
The lasting solution should be government investing heavily in education, infrastructures, and power, provide water, build roads and factories, but these basic amenities in place so life would become meaningful to the common Nigerian. They should solve the problems with ASUU that always cause incessant ASUU strike, so our children can be in school because the idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new normal to the educational system in Nigeria; do you think the system is well equipped for e-learning?
“It is evident that we are not ready to embrace e-learning in the sector, we don’t have the necessary infrastructures to make it work, no power supply, how many of the students can afford phones with internet, data issue, bad network, etc.
You can see that most schools struggle to go the e-learning way during the pandemic, they were caught unaware, unlike the United States, which is in the 31st-century system of education, we are still in the 21st century, we are ten years behind.
The world today is a global village; unfortunately most schools in Nigeria today still don’t have an ICT laboratory for their students. Information technology has taken over the world; we should strive to be at the level of our contemporaries in the developed world.
There is a lot of work to be done, and unless the people in authority are honest and sincere about it, the Nigeria education system will continue to lag behind, and the world would leave us behind.”
How can we improve the quality of teachers in our schools?
“At the moment, the quality of teachers in some of the schools can be better, some of the schools employed teachers who are not qualified, and this will affect negatively on the quality of education that is imparted in our children, you cannot give what you don’t have.
Some of these schools go for half-baked teachers because they don’t want to invest funds in qualified quality teachers, these are some of the challenges the system is facing, we cannot churn out quality graduates at the end of the day, which is not good for us as a nation. We should know that we are grooming these children to become future leaders, if the quality of education is not good, then the future will be bleak for us all.
Our schools should ensure that well-qualified teachers are employed, and there should be constant training and re-training of teachers so they can meet up with modern realities.
The government and private school owners should also remunerate their teachers handsomely, so they can be encouraged and motivated to do more.”
Is there a need for more polytechnic and universities to be established by the government?
“It’s not all about establishing more universities, it’s about the quality of personnel, learning environment, and funding. Some of these universities are like a three-bedroom flat with mushroom classes, everywhere is choked up, they are nothing close to what a university should be, the state-owned universities especially are always being neglected after being established, so what you get is a rot in the system.
The National University Commission (NUC), in collaboration with the Senate committee on education, should focus more on improving the standard of the already established government universities, rather than given approval for new ones to be established, which we know adequate attention would not be given to them.”
In rounding off the interview, the infallible Dr. Jonathan Akpan reminisce the days when Nigeria education standard was one to be proud of, especially in the ’60s, the ’70s, and early ’80s, with a sober reflection, the enthusiastic educationist looks forward to a day when the ‘sun would shine’ on Nigerian education system.