Minister Proposes Merger of Public Schools for Efficiency

Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has proposed the merger of some public schools in the country in order to improve the quality of education.

He also called on key players in the education sector to support the federal government in its efforts at moving the vital industry forward.

Speaking at the maiden edition of Re-ignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series where he was the keynote speaker, he said “we have a lot of public schools that are not doing well.

“So, instead of building new schools, why can’t we concession some of these schools to those who have the capacity to adopt and manage them very well?”

According to him, “Those are the kinds of work I want to do. I had proposed this when I was the Chairman of TETFUND.”

While responding to a submission by one of the panellists at the webinar, Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu,

The Minister said his ministry was already working out a framework for bringing in private sector players to come in and adopt public schools that are not doing well.

At the event held in partnership with Businessday Media and themed Nigeria @ 60, Education: Navigating a New Normal, Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, a STEM education advocate, canvassed for the government to collaborate with key players in the areas of curriculum, skills development and schools adoption.

In his response, the Minister said, “Essentially, we are going to be changing to the STEM curriculum and enhance it. We are going to be responding more to what players in the sector are going to be asking us to do.

“We are stepping up with private sector players because we have realised that we cannot do it alone. We are bringing everybody on board through Public-Private Partnership.

Speaking further, he said government “does not have all of the funding or the essence but we have regulators; National Assembly is a regulatory agency, the ministries and all of us functioning in the ecosystem will have to step up and participate a bit better and that is why I am here at Reignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series, this opportunity is great.”

Speaking on schools resumption in the face of the COVID-19 new normal, the Minister disclosed that “government’s priority is to safeguard ourselves, our learners and teachers in navigating the new normal. Most of the things we are doing now are how to carry the leaners forward in the new system”.

The event was moderated by Dr Modupe Adefeso-Olateju, an education policy expert specialising in public-private partnerships in education.

She is the Managing Director of The Education Partnership Centre (TEP Centre) and Programme Director of the LEARNigeria Citizen-Led Assessment and Advocacy Programme.

Mr Nwajiuba was the Keynote Speaker, while an eminent faculty of discussants made up of Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, Federal House Committee on Basic Education; Hajia Fatima Hamza, former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Jigawa State and Founding Trustee, Al-Amanah Foundation/ School Head, Al-Amanah Academy, Kaduna; and Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu: STEM Education Advocate, Mentor, Speaker, Girls Champion/Obama Foundation, African Leader/Mandela Washington Fellow, made the event outstanding with robust conversations on how to reposition the education sector to meet the opportunities of the 4th industrial revolution.

In the course of his submission, an erudite scholar and former Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Programmes Monitoring, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, stated that COVID-19 has provided Nigeria with a good opportunity to develop its infrastructure.

“It has exposed the underbelly of the weaknesses of the society and the political class and now we see the relative weaknesses not just in Nigeria but the world and thus a good opportunity for us to rethink and reset,” he said.

He added that, “It is not too late, it is not impossible, but there has to be the commitment and leadership at the resources and we have to address both the content and context of education.

In his opening remarks, Franklyn Ginger-Eke, Executive Director/COO Re-ignite Public Affairs, stated that Re-ignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series which is a knowledge-based policy analysis forum for collating refined submissions of public and private sector stakeholders.

“This will form the basis for shaping the immediate and long term future. As Nigeria marches towards her 60th Independence anniversary, there is a critical need to review her progress in key sectors that have the extreme potential to catalyse national development.

“This becomes even more strident in this era of COVID 19 pandemic which demands a fresh approach to old challenges.

“For this purpose, our focus areas are health, education, economy, agriculture, governance, infrastructure and security,” he stated.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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