2019 Elections: How Oby Ezekwesili planned to reform Nigeria’s education sector

Oby Ezekwesili at presidential debate.organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group on Saturday, 19th January, 2019

It is no longer news that the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili has withdrawn her aspiration of becoming the next president of Nigeria.

This decision, according to her, was made after a series of discussions with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.

She noted that she is ready for any coalition against the two leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Prior to this development, Ezekwesili’s presidential candidacy had promised to make reforms to the Nigerian education system and turn it “into our new gold and new oil”.

She declared so last weekend in Abuja where she was one of the three presidential candidates who participated in the 2019 Presidential Debate jointly organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

“Education is known as the pathway to human progress. Economic and social mobility is possible through education,” the former education minister said.

Like most other candidates, she promised to ensure free education is provided for children.

“It is the basis of the provision of opportunities for people. In today’s Nigeria, more than 65% of the children of the poor do not have access to efficient one.

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“We will amend in the change to education by ensuring that foundationally, in every child free education is integrated very well.”

In the NEDG debate, she together with other aspirants claimed that Nigerian education system is not targeted at employability and making employment opportunities. She set a tone for how her government would have acted differently.

According to her, “The basic, secondary and tertiary educations all require comprehensive curricular reforms.

“We will also focus on technical and innovational education for which we put a certification arrangement within the Nigerian diploma and degree.”

“The key thing we have as our agenda is get a skill. It targets young people and works with the private sector to being owners of programs that develops skills into systems that are viable in the economy.

“The second focus is the curriculum used in secondary and tertiary institutions. We will make them dynamic and targeted towards employability.”

She held strongly that the inadequate skills and welfare of teachers have negative effect on student-employment market relationship.

This, she promised to tackle by improving teacher quality and welfare.

“Teacher quality is at the heart of how effective the education system becomes. Some reasonable numbers of our teachers are unskilled.

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“We must modernize teaching. We take the teaching to the prestigious profession that it once were by training the teachers massively and equipping them with the knowledge of the 21st century economy.”

“We will also focus on teacher policy issues. If teachers do not have the skills to train the right kinds of people, they will train people that the employment market will reject.”

“The public schools are the basis of lifting people out of poverty and since our plan is to lift 80 million people out of poverty, the education of poor in the public school will be paramount to us.

The quality of the teachers is dependent on the type of training they get. When I was minister of education, we began to work on this and this accelerated programs to upgrade the skills of teachers through colleges of education.”

“We will also give greater power to the teacher regulatory council to regulate the teaching profession to bring prestige and dynamism.

“We will also work on the matter remuneration of the teaching profession. One of the key things we emphasize is the housing of teachers. It is a program that the private sector already shown great interest in.”

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EduCeleb.com recalls that shortly after she declared a disinterest in continuing to run for office, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rejected her proposition citing its contravention to the electoral act based on the closeness of the change of mind to the elections.

It is quite obvious that she may not likely be returning to the race as she had indicated interest to back some other candidate who emerges by consensus outside the PDP or APC arrangements.

What is left to be seen is whether whoever emerges the president after the February 16th election would adopt some of her plans.

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