Majority of those admitted to study at teacher-training institutions are those who perhaps performed poorly. Don’t you think that that would affect quality in the education sector?I am a full advocate of admitting people, who are first of all interested in studying education. At different fora within my university, I have spoken about it. A situation, where students come in with a mindset of coming to “manage” education or temporarily gaining admission with the hope of transferring to another faculty is usually an empty promise. By the time they come with that mindset, they are always looking out and they wouldn’t concentrate. So, when the reality dawn on them that this is not possible, frustration comes in – even killing the little interest that they might have had. I remember that there was a particular former Dean (of Education) who was able to take it up with the university management that candidates who originally chose education as the course of first choice, even if they score 50%, should be given priority in admissions. Then, whatever lapses that we have at UTME level, we can always fill it up with people who had gone through NCE for Direct Entry on admission. Therefore, we don’t want education to be a second choice of course. For a while, the university agreed but this doesn’t seem so anymore. The “go and manage education” idea is killing education and the school system. Most of the time, this thing has moribund effect to especially the lower level of education and trickles to the basic school and secondary school levels to the universities. If I were in a position where I could have influence on policy, I would insist that provided the candidate had interest, it would be easier to teach and encourage them to perform better than others who don’t.
Are you suggesting then that only interest is required and scores shouldn’t matter?No, don’t get me wrong. You will notice that university admission is highly competitive. In the last admission, there was a lot of outcry that some candidates who scored very high got no admission. I understand that there is no pass mark in the UTME. It is a competitive rating exam and in a rating exam, there is no pass mark. Indirectly, the candidate determines the pass mark. Those admitted are then those who passed. Admission has become very competitive. So, there is a minimum benchmark that we should not go lower than. In most first generation universities, I think it is about 50%. If you score up to that, you still have a hope of gaining admission. I don’t think education is that bad that we should go below the minimum standard. But coupled with that, the person must also have interest in the profession.
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There is the trend of schools employing teachers for phonics or diction today. Is foreign accent really important in learning English?I understand that English as an international language gives room for national and dialectical variations. That’s why we have American English, Scottish English, Australian English, South African English and so on. The realisation that, no matter what, your mother tongue or first language would always have an impact is why there is that flexibility in speaking English. And that is why also, in training, we target international intelligibility. But that doesn’t mean that I must learn to speak like a Briton. When you now talk of diction teachers, what is their exposure? They were also exposed to wrong pronunciation and “certified” even with that. They are now taking all the certificates around saying that they are diction teachers. In fact, there are a lot elitist schools which tend to follow such trends. The other one is Cursive Handwriting introduced in schools. It makes some handwritings get worse. Let children write naturally the way they can and improve on that. Having a diction teacher is good but they should have better exposure and their own language background should not be affecting English pronunciation too. That is not that necessary, especially with digital technology in the classroom where you can log on and all the children will listen directly to the native speaker rather than having a bad teacher teach them.
…if I had my way, I wouldn’t set question for examinations… I believe more in research. Producing your own knowledge is better rather than regurgitating knowledge, which is what exam tests. Oyenike Adeosun PhD
Is there any bright future in the adoption of indigenous languages in the classrooms?There is hope in that. You would discover that it is in this side (South West Nigeria) that we are having issues adopting our indigenous languages in schools. Northerners are quite comfortable in their languages. If more states could start emulating the sort of Lagos law promoting that, things may likely be different. The local languages are dying. Yoruba is not being used as much as before. My Igbo colleagues would even say that it is worse in their own place. With technology, the awareness is more now. It is only that as speakers of that language, we should be more committed to promoting them.
What is your view on conducting examinations?I tell my students that if I had my way, I wouldn’t set question for examinations.
So, what would replace it?As a lecturer, I have never given students test over the years. I give assignments. Assignments would take them out of their convenient areas to go and research. I believe more in research. Producing your own knowledge is better rather than regurgitating knowledge, which is what exam tests.
The “go and manage education” idea is killing education and the school system. Most of the time, this thing has moribund effect to especially the lower level of education and trickles to the basic school and secondary school levels to the universities. Oyenike Adeosun PhD