Ugo Aliogo

Stakeholders in the education sector have called on the federal government to be committed in its drive to reposition the sector through proper planning of the curriculum from a knowledge-based model to critical thinking, problem solving and innovation.

They stressed the need to bring together key stakeholders in the planning process and that government must actively invest in ICT for the growth of the sector with a focus to strengthen the skills sets of students in public primary and secondary school levels in the use of computer, while helping to build their capacity to creatively think and innovate in a world driven by technology.

They argued that a situation where the planning and drafting of the curriculum is done without considering the demands of the teachers and everything is done behind closed doors and passed down to them for teaching and learning is unhealthy and unprofessional for the growth of the sector.

Speaking at the 2018 Africa top schools conference and awards with the theme: ‘21st Century Learning: The Challenges of Curriculum and Environment’ the Principal of Olashore International School, Osun State, Mr. Derek Smith said government and stakeholders should leverage on the use of ICT to improve teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools.

“In the 21st century, education has changed therefore if government wants the sector to keep pace with other sectors, there is need to improve the knowledge base of students through active involvement in ICT.

“There is need to improve the teaching methods by incorporating technology gadgets such as IPads, mini-computers in the learning process. If we continue teaching them to pass examination and not use technology, we are not preparing them for the future.”

He said creativity would be one of the top skills employers of labour would need in the near future, adding that if Africa wants to build a pipeline of future skills, educators should design future-ready curriculum that would encourage critical thinking and emotional intelligence, as well as accelerate acquisition of digital and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) skills to match the way people would work.

“Technology is a big change in the classroom. It is the learning, not the technology; no matter how much money you put to introduce technology, if it is not backed up by effective learning, it will be in vain. The core skills set we require in the 21st century includes critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and communication, creativity and imagination, citizenship and digital literacy.

“The key thing is to focus on the learning and to know what you want the children to learn and think about how technology can help. Another crucial area is to think about the curriculum, what we are giving to them and the skills set that should be imparted on them.

“What is important for me is that as school leaders, we should consider what we are trying to teach the children in line with what the country needs to be successful 10 years from now and be at the cutting edge of the world. Training is vital if government is considering putting technology into learning.

“I don’t think there is anything as a perfect curriculum, we should keep reviewing the curriculum. It is not the content of the curriculum that is vital; it is how it is taught to children so that they go forward. We need to teach students to learn and adapt as the world changes. We need to be more focused on the skills we are giving the children,” Smith stressed.

The Principal of Christ the King Catholic College (CKCC), Reverend. Fr. Peter Onabamiro emphasised proper curriculum planning to improve teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools, adding that his school has adopted strategic teaching methods that has brought about its success stories.

He argued that the engineering, technical and vocational schools are still teaching 1960’s and 1970’s techniques and technologies, saying that there is a complete mismatch between the knowledge and skills acquired by graduates of these schools in Africa and those actually required by industries or for self-employment.

“The result is a growing number of unemployable youths and job losses by technical artisans and slower economic growth as industries cannot find the qualified and the skilled employees they need. Those unemployed and unemployable are getting restless. Most of these unemployable youths are those who constitute a political time bomb and ready-made thugs during elections in the hands of our politicians.”

He advised government to learn the support-service rendered by foreign governments to the private school system, adding that they must rise up to their responsibilities and encourage the private schools to thrive.

“The 21st century spirit requires that the future generation should be empowered with the ability to participate actively and creatively in the information economy where they would use pertinent information to create the knowledge surplus that is needed to transform society.