Nigeria: New education curriculum takes shape

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Oct 31 13:23:35 UTC 2008

New education curriculum takes shape
By Kemi Obasola
Published: Friday, 31 Oct 2008

As the Federal Government begins the implementation of its new
education curriculum, Kemi Obasola reports that teachers and pupils
are utilising the opportunities it creates, just as experts call for
proper implementation EIGHT am is assembly time in most public primary
schools in Lagos State. This Wednesday morning was not different for
the pupils of this primary school located in Ikeja Local Government
Area of the state. The pupils lined up class by class to say their
morning prayers, sing the national anthem and take general
instructions from their head teacher, a woman.

As the assembly session came to an end, the pupils filed to their
classes including those in nursery class aged 3-5 to begin lessons for
the day. Although those in the senior classes began the day with core
subjects such as Mathematics and English Language, those in the
nursery class began the day with rhymes and poems just like their
counterparts in private schools.

For the pupils in this primary school and others across the state and
the federation, the implementation of the new curriculum for education
had begun. It was, therefore, not surprising to note that as the
pupils from Basic 1-6 finished their first lesson for the day, other
teachers, apart from their class teachers came in to take them in
specialised subjects like English Language, French Language,
Integrated Science, Creative Arts and Computer Studies. The new
curriculum is about subject specialisation, rotation of classes and
like pupils in secondary schools, primary pupils will also now be
taught by specialised teachers who are highly qualified in their areas
of specialisation.

As the primary four pupils took their French lesson at 11 am, the
pupils in nursery class to primary 3 went for break which ended by
11.30 am. But, contrary to the provisions of the new curriculum on
physical health education, there were no swings to play on. So, the
girls played games that they had invented while the boys ran around,
playing hide and seek and football.

This reporter took the opportunity of the break to speak with the head
teacher of the school on how teachers are adapting to the new
curriculum and their ability to cope. The head teacher, who spoke
under condition of anonymity, said, "We have undergone a series of
training and workshop, including the teachers and more than ever
before, it is a time for us all to be more serious with our work. The
time book is now taken more seriously and our teachers who specialise
in certain subjects are advised not to miss classes, else they will
have the state Universal Basic Education Board and local education
authorities to contend with.

"There are qualified teachers at every level of education in this
country. Basically, the poor renumeration, lack of incentives and
disrespect for the teaching profession are the factors that affect
teachers' performance and their attitude to work. However, most of
them see the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars on the
curriculum as a good one that will broaden their horizon and they are
eager to impart to their pupils things that they have learnt."

She said the SUBEB had supplied the school with two computers like
other schools in the state but they were waiting for the carpenter to
bring the tables on which the computers would sit.

"It is after this that we will now install those computers and our
pupils will be able to have practical knowledge on the use of
computers, right now they are only taking theory lessons," she said.

According to her, the school was looking up to the Parent- Teachers
Association to provide swings and other facilities for the pupils so
that the goal of physical health education would be achieved.

A primary six pupil, Ronke Amusa, said she was excited at the
opportutnity to learn Fench and the opportunity to study the computer.

"I have seen the computer before, but I have never had the chance to
operate it. Now, we are taking computer lessons and our teacher said
from November, he will show us how to operate it," she said.

The new nine-year basic education curriculum, our correspondent
gathered, would be skills and information-driven. Teachers, therefore,
need to be re-equipped and re-tooled.

Already, the Federal Government has said that in order to meet set
targets, 39,239 qualified teachers need to be recruited annually for
the next eight years, while states have to show greater commitment to
production of qualified teachers and their professional development.

With the new curriculum and in order to meet the objectives of the
Millennium Development Goals, training programmes will be organised
for 145,000 teachers to equip them to meet the challenges of the new
9-Year Basic Education Curriculum.

Training is to take place in 275 centres with 3,500 resource persons
recruited mainly from teacher training institutions.

Unveiling the new curriculum, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian
Educational Research and Development Council, Professor Godswill
Obioma, said the curriculum would address the issues of value
reorientation, poverty eradication, creative thinking,
entrepreneurship and life skills to ensure that a child, on completion
of the Junior Secondary School Education, will be fully equipped for
life-long living and prepared to undergo senior secondary school

According to Obioma, the nine-year Basic Education Curriculum is
divided into three levels, namely: the Lower Basic Education
Curriculum (Primary1-3), Middle Basic Education Curriculum (Primary
4-6) and Upper Basic Education Curriculum (JSS 1-3). Unlike the former
curriculum, the new one has been infused with relevant elements of the
National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, with a
systemic connection between primary and junior secondary school

He said that the introduction of a new curriculum had become necessary
because of the inadequacies of the old curriculum which had made the
old one unable to meet the needs of the learners in a rapidly changing

Analysts have said several times that the nation does not lack
policies but the ability to implement them. This was reiterated by a
Professor of Education at the Lagos State University, Demola Onifade,
who said, "Successive governments come up with various policies that
they think will move the education sector forward. The problem this
time is not with the curriculum. There was absolutely nothing wrong
with the former one. However, government should ensure that it spares
no resources to ensure that this curriculum is properly implemented.
Teachers should be trained, facilities should be provided while more
fund should be injected into the sector. It is only when all these
factors are in place that the Federal Government will be seen to be
serious and the new curriculum will not just be another policy

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