Former World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili, will deliver the keynote address at the BRACED states education summit slated for November 15 to 17, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The event, which is being facilitated by the BRACED Commission, is aimed at reviving the education sector in the BRACED states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta.
A statement by the Director General of the BRACED Commission, Joe Keshi, said the three-day summit would attract the brightest and the best in the nation’s education sector as well as entrepreneurs from corporate sector in Nigeria, including the Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede; the Chief Executive Officer of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole and the Chairman of Heirs Holding, Mr. Tony Elumelu.
The BRACED states were noted for academic and sporting excellence but the general drop in the quality of education in the country also took its toll on education in these oil-bearing states.
It is in a bid to revive the sector that governors of the BRACED states through the office of the BRACED Commission are hosting the summit, which Keshi said was to provide the BRACED states a platform to address the state of education in the region with a view to fashioning out different ways to improve the quality of education, learning environment and wellbeing of the various stakeholders in the education process especially the teachers and the students.
The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, and the Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, Professor Domwini Kuupole, would be special guests.
Also confirmed to attend the summit are Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Okon Bassey Ewa; Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike; Professor Alele Williams, a professor of mathematics, Dr. Enase Okonedo of the Lagos Business School, among others.
Keshi said the summit would help the BRACED states’ governors, school administrators and other stakeholders to compare notes and seek ways of breathing fresh life to this all-important knowledge sector.
The conference will therefore review the state of basic, secondary and technical vocational education, higher education, teachers’ education and training of teachers, in addition to reviewing the standard of science and technology education,” he said.
The education summit, a sequel to two successful economic summits by the commission, would also have in attendance commissioners for education of the BRACED states and their permanent secretaries, Vice-Chancellors of all the universities in the region, Rectors of Colleges of Education and polytechnics, Deans of Faculties of Education of universities in the BRACED states, Principals of colleges and Headmasters of primary schools, Teachers Associations, Chairmen of States Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEC), faith-based educational organisations, NGOs in the education sub-sector as well as donors agencies.
The summit, according to Keshi, is to remedy the damage done to education in the region as evidenced in its poor performance in WAEC, JAMB and NECO exams as well as the poor intellectual content of graduates of tertiary institutions in the region.
Although, the scourge of falling standard of education is not peculiar to the BRACED states, Keshi said it is the desire of governors of the region to shore up the quality of education at all levels with a view of turning the region into a sought-after-knowledge resort on the continent. He regretted the situation whereby Nigerian parents and guardians have to send their wards to schools in neighbouring African countries. “This trend must be reversed,” he said.
Part of the envisaged outcomes of the summit would include: Producing a common education policy/initiative for the BRACED states; regional science and technology policy; improve and strengthen the content of basic education; reach an agreement to revive and encourage technical and vocational education by transforming the curriculum of technical and vocational schools to foster efficient applications of technology; development of Professional Teaching Competencies/Standards for Pre and in-service teachers in the BRACED states; joint establishment of monitoring criteria for certification and re-certification, including induction and mentoring programmes for teachers.