Lagos state government has made two moves that we believe pave the way for excellence in education governance and delivery in the state, one of which could be replicated at the federal government level because of the associated benefits.
First, Nigeria’s commercial capital has unbundled its ministry of education into basic and tertiary. We are also aware that similar reforms are taking place in Ebonyi state, Southeast Nigeria. Unbundling the Federal Ministry of Education is both desirable and a necessity. This would help fix the gargantuan problems at each level of education in Africa’s largest economy. In fact, five African countries already operate a similar model.
Second, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has re-appointed Folasade Adefisayo, a technocrat and educator as the commissioner for basic education, this ensures continuity. While Lagos and Ebonyi states are not our immediate concern they set the tone for the national issues we consider critical, requiring urgent attention in the education sector.
A country’s education system is its lifeline, it determines the quality of health and talent pool of its population. This means that the development of a country rests on the foundation of a robust education system. Education plays a vital role in shaping the future of a country and its citizens. Industrial development is a function of a country’s human capital and foreign direct investors take this into account when they make investment decisions.
Nigeria’s education system currently lacks a clear demarcation among basic, secondary, and tertiary education ministries. This lack of separation results in insufficient attention being given to each level, hindering the effectiveness and quality of education provided. By establishing separate ministries, it becomes possible to focus on the unique needs and challenges that each education level faces, leading to improved outcomes and a more holistic approach to education administration.
Nigeria, being the most populous African country, must harness the potential of its educational system to empower its people and drive socio-economic growth. In this editorial, we delve into the significance of separating ministries for primary, secondary, and tertiary education in Nigeria, drawing on case studies from African countries that have successfully implemented this approach. Furthermore, we outline five lessons that Nigeria can learn from these countries and recommend the need for separating the ministries in Nigeria.
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Several African countries have successfully separated their ministries for basic, secondary, and tertiary education, thereby serving as valuable examples for Nigeria. The following case studies highlight key lessons and outcomes from these countries.
Ghana established separate ministries for basic education, secondary education, and tertiary education, resulting in greater specialisation and systematic development. This not only allowed for tailored policies and resources but also facilitated better monitoring and evaluation of educational outcomes.
Rwanda’s separation of education ministries led to a significant rise in the quality of education across all levels. With a dedicated focus on each stage, Rwanda has been able to prioritise areas such as curriculum development, teacher training, and infrastructure enhancement, leading to substantial improvements in its educational system.
Kenya’s decision to separate the ministries resulted in more effective governance structures and targeted policies. This allowed for a better allocation of resources, addressing the specific needs of each educational level. Furthermore, this separation has contributed to the enhanced accountability and autonomy of institutions.
In South Africa, dividing ministries for basic, secondary, and tertiary education has contributed to a comprehensive approach to education reform and development. With each level receiving specialised attention, the country has experienced improved access to education, enhanced curriculum development, and effective coordination across institutions.
Lessons for Nigeria
Nigeria can derive crucial lessons from these countries, which can guide the separation of ministries for basic, secondary, and tertiary education ministries.
Specialisation: Separating ministries would enable a specific focus on the unique requirements of each education level, leading to enhanced policy formulation, curriculum development, and infrastructure planning.
Resource Allocation: Separate ministries would ensure better resource allocation, targeting the distinct needs of basic, secondary, and tertiary education. This would result in improved learning environments, teacher training, and student support services.
Holistic Approach: Focusing on each educational level independently would contribute to a more holistic educational process. By addressing foundational challenges during basic education, secondary and tertiary institutions can build upon solid educational foundations.
Accountability: Separation of ministries promotes transparency, accountability, and efficient governance. Independent governing structures assigned to each level can effectively monitor performance and align educational goals with national development objectives.
Practical Evaluation: Separate ministries would facilitate improved monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, enabling the timely identification of shortcomings, the implementation of evidence-based solutions, and the fostering of continuous improvement in educational outcomes.
Based on the lessons learned from Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa, it is imperative that Nigeria unbundles and separates its humongous federal ministry of education into ministries for basic, secondary, and tertiary education. This would pave the way for a more comprehensive, specialised, and effective education system in Nigeria. Prioritising each level individually, Nigeria can improve educational outcomes, promote national development, and empower its citizens to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Nigeria must seize the opportunity to establish separate ministries for basic, secondary, and tertiary education. Drawing on successful case studies from various African countries, Nigeria can learn valuable lessons and adapt strategies that focus on specialisation, resource allocation, a holistic approach, accountability, and effective evaluation. By taking this step, Nigeria can enhance the quality and accessibility of education, thereby aiding the nation’s overall development and ensuring a brighter future for its citizens.