Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has changed the school curriculum from studying to acquire certificates to studying to acquire knowledge and skills. This is the basis of the educational reforms in the state.
Before Aregbesola’s reform, students were studying mainly to obtain certificates rather than to acquire knowledge and skills. Students who once lacked access to modern-day digital tools are now fully exploiting the internet, interactive apps, online courses, and computing technology as part of their daily lessons, opening doors to new opportunities and a promising future.
Osun educational policy therefore seeks an integrative approach to the education of children and youth. This spans, education infrastructure in O’Schools – massive building of new school structures to replace the old dilapidated ones; standardised school uniforms in O’Uniform – to rebrand Osun public schools as well as create employment for designers, tailors and allied artisans, as employed by Omoluabi Garments Factory, the biggest of its type in the whole of West Africa; and innovative teaching materials and learning aids, which clear showpiece is the award-winning Opon Imo, the computer tablet that captures all the textbooks in the school curriculum for high schools.
Talk of good nutrition to fully develop the physical and mental readiness of school children for life-long learning; co-curricular activities as integral parts of the school curriculum as in O’Calisthenics, physical education drills, since a sound mind sits pretty well in a sound body; and educational competitions in quiz and debates; games and sports; and co-curricular societies like the Literary and Debating Societies, Science Clubs, Geography Societies, the Omoluabi Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.
Technical and Vocational Education and entrepreneurial education in the curriculum implementation for functional and entrepreneurial education, is a crucial missing link in the Nigerian educational system as presently designed and has now been incorporated into the Osun curriculum.
The above are the major pillars of Osun education policy. But these cover the formal education school years from Age 6. The pre-school period, from birth to Age 6 comes with a strong stress on parent-government cooperation and collaboration. For starters, the policy does not invest in nursery and other pre-school activities because the government expects parents and guardians to contribute their own quotas to preparing their children for school readiness.
Therefore, Osun education policy is tailored towards making the public schools system produce complete child, to become the complete youth and grow up to become the complete citizen, empowered in learning and in character, in the best tradition of the Yoruba ethos. That way, they would be equipped, culturally and academically, anywhere they find themselves in the world, aside from becoming patriots, to take care of their state and country that had earlier taken care of them.
Science contributes to quality of life in so many areas: health, nutrition, agriculture, transportation, material and energy production, and industrial development. It ensures that the air we breathe and the water we drink are life sustaining and not vectors of disease and decay.
Science and technology have become crucial factors for sustainable development worldwide. Both have contributed immensely to the material progress of nations. It is in fact generally accepted that the adoption of a scientific framework is a prerequisite for development. Associated with this in any country are issues of education which are of considerable importance for economic prosperity. And, in a developing country, issues of science and technology education are even of more particular importance, as it is principally by means of science and technology education that its people can achieve national development.
Industry, universities and other research-based organisations thus need to recruit a highly skilled élite. However, the size of that élite may be quite modest, even in a highly industrialised society, and it would be a mistake to have this group principally in mind when reforming science and technology education in schools. A policy based mainly on the needs of this élite could decrease even further the proportion of young people interested in school science and technology.
Aregbesola understands a modern labour market which requires people with qualifications in science and technology. This need is great and growing fast, as knowledge and skills based on science and technology become prerequisites for employment in new or emerging sectors of the labour market. It is not only doctors, pharmacists, engineers and technicians who need a scientific or technological education.
The challenges facing science and technology education outlined above have been met in different ways. Osun has introduced more radical reforms, and there has been support for curriculum development and experiment. The reforms have been directed at both the content and framing of the curriculum and at pedagogy, i.e., at teaching methods and the organisation of the learning processes.
There seems to be something of general weakening of the traditional academic influence on the organisation of the Osun school curriculum and its content. An underlying concern, when ‘everyone’ attends school for 12-13 years, is that science and technology should contribute to the more general aims of schooling. The tendency, therefore, is to gradually redefine what counts as valid school science by broadening the perspective to give attention to some of the social and ethical aspects of science and technology. Some of the trends are discussed briefly below. Although listed separately, many are related and not all are found in all countries, but, collectively, they paint a picture of discernible change.
As the world shrinks due to globalisation, it is a known fact that new and complex challenges are emerging rapidly; these challenges need newer and sometimes radical tools to help address them. Most people agree that education, especially at the tertiary level, plays a fundamental part in addressing complex challenges. For us to address a critical challenge like the shrinking labour market and the rapid production of graduates yearly, we have to explore ways of adding knowledge to the quest for certificates and this has been the path Osun has been following over the years.
- Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City [email protected]