24 February 2011

Nigeria: 6-3-3-4 Policy - A Matter of Semantic


Abuja — Policy summersault has been the bane of the education sector as reform after reform take place within very short periods, often resulting to more harm than good. STELLA EZE takes a look at the 6-3-3-4 system as stakeholders wield their sledgehammers in defence of and against the policy.

The Argument for and against the 6-3-3-4 system of education has raged on as stakeholders give conflicting position on whether it stays or not. Between the two ministers overseeing the affairs of the ministry, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i and Barr. Kenneth Gbagi, divergent views had emerged leaving most Nigerians confused on what to actually believe.

While Rufa'i had maintained on several occasions that the policy would not be scrapped because according to her, "it is just a matter of semantic," her colleague, Gbagi, seems fed up with the system. For him, "the policy must be phased out without further waste of time, since the purpose for which it was adopted was defeated."

In the same vein, the minister in reaction to repeated insinuations that the Federal Government has plans to scrap the 6-3-3-4 system of education initiated by the Late Babatude Fafunwa, told journalists at the ministerial press briefing held on the 21st of December 2010, that there was no iota of truth in the circulating rumour.

According to her; "the 6-3-3-4 policy is just a matter of semantics, the government cannot take decisions without due consultations. Nobody can scrap the 6-3-3-4 system of education. There is no plan to that effect.

However, many Nigerians are inclined to align their thought with that of Prof. Rufa'i that the 6-3-3-4 system was just a matter of nomenclature, with no significant difference with whatever policy that may come to replace it. For them, the problem with the policy was with the culture of lack of implementation.

Analysing the policy and its implication, a lecturer at the Department of General Studies of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ogun State, Mr. Segun Akinyode captured the very essence of the policy, and why it failed in Nigeria. " It's time people who are making noise about reforms understand that, right from the kindergarten class to the tertiary school, the situation is not cheering. An average Nigerian student of today cannot perform like his counterpart of the sixties and early seventies, and this is in spite of the availability of sound resources which the proprietors of schools in Nigeria have graciously refused to provide. What sort of future leadership trait and disposition can one expect form a student who, through the active collaboration of his parents, bribes his way through school?

The flow of discussion that the system of education should be changed, seems a little bit awkward. The problem is not in the system but in the operators-the teachers, the parents, the students, the school founders, the government, and the society. It sounds interesting that, a practical exercise reveals that, teachers can be parents; a teacher can be a student as well as a school founder while that faceless man we all call 'government' can be a parent, a student, a school founder, and a teacher, and all the operators qualify as members of society. If we can be sincere in the discharge of our responsibilities at the different levels, I think we should get somewhere.

"There is nothing in the implementation of the 6-3-3-4 system that says the output of the secondary school should proceed to the tertiary school. What the system says is that "the junior secondary school is both pre-vocational and academic." It states further that, "students who leave school at the junior high school may then go on to an apprenticeship system or some other scheme for out-of-school vocational training." What this injunction implies is that at both levels (junior and senior) of the secondary education, those students who may not be endowed with the academic ability to move on to the next level on the ladder should be made to learn a trade; this is what is meant by "apprenticeship system or some other scheme for out-of-school vocational training."

Continuing, he said; "what happens is that, as a result of the absence of functional technical, trade or other forms of training schemes for these deficient students, they take it as an opportunity to waltz their ways to the tertiary schools, employing all sorts of crooked means. Another reason is the lack of sound guidance and counselling programme capable of identifying and classifying the students at an early stage so that they know where they belong on the ladder: academic or vocational. It is a sad fact that many Nigerians who should have been world-beaters in sports have had their talents buried because of late discovery or poor management".

Another stakeholder who spoke on condition of anonymity told LEADERSHIP Education in Abuja that Gbagi's statement was just an expression of his disappointment for a failed system, since the desired impact was not felt.

He said there was no basis for this conflicting opinions as he recalled that the Federal Government set up a committee to look into the impact of the policy so as to advise government on an appropriate action to take.

However, the committee, which was set up after the national summit on education held between October 4th and 5th 2010, during which President Goodluck Jonathan participated actively, is yet to come up with any resolution. Consequently, the Federal Government has not taken any decision on the policy. "Nigerians are disillusioned by the lack of impact of this policy. That is probably why the minister of state is just trying to express his personal disappointment. The 6-3-3-4 system was designed to produce graduates from secondary schools with entrepreneurial skills, who could be productive and self-reliant. But unfortunately the system failed", he said.

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