The President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), Professor Sola Akinrinade, has lamented the decline in the quality of entrants into the Nigerian University System, and says urgent intervention is needed to stem this worrying tide.
Prof. Akinrinade made this statement on Tuesday at a policy review workshop on “Strengthening the Educational System in Nigeria Through STEAM” Organised by the Nigerian Academy of Science, Nigerian Academy of Letters, and the Nigerian Young Academy (NYA) and sponsored by JAMB in Abuja.
Contrary to popular belief that the decline is a result of lowered prescribed educational standards, Professor Akinrinade argued that the standards at the Basic and Senior Secondary Levels have increased. The root of the problem lies in the implementation of these standards, which have become suspect over the years.
The poor performance of Nigerian university entrants spans across disciplinary groups, making it evident that a holistic approach is required to address this multifaceted issue. Professor Akinrinade stressed the importance of comprehensive interventions in overcoming these challenges.
“Our problem has to do with the implementation of the standards, capacity for which has become suspect over the years. The poor performance transcends the boundaries of disciplinary groups hence, interventions such as ours must be holistic. The President, of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Professor Sola Akinrinade, said this at the Policy Review workshop on “Strengthening the Educational system in Nigeria through STEAM” on Tuesday in Abuja.
“The importance of STEAM education as a critical factor in the sustainable and inclusive development of a country such as ours cannot be overemphasised. Properly implemented, STEAM education encourages innovation, reduces poverty, and provides beneficiaries with the appropriate tools to improve their lives and those of others. If, through this intervention, we succeed in building alliances for the proper implementation of STEAM education at the Basic and Senior Secondary levels in the country, we will have made a great investment in the lives of future generations of Nigerian youths. The ultimate beneficiary is our dear country. cannot overemphasize the importance of what we are doing here this week. If we are
“We going to achieve our objectives of building a knowledge-based economy through STEAM education, then we cannot discountenance the importance of proper policy planning. Great ideas such as this need proper planning for its implementation process to achieve its purpose. We need to focus on how to make STEAM relevant to our problems at both national and sub-national levels and it is meetings like this that we can aggregate perspectives and propose ways forward for us as a country. I am sure, the participants present are more than capable of fashioning the way forward for us.
“I, therefore, challenge every stakeholder involved, not just those present at this programme, to engage with the process. Happily, most of the critical institutional stakeholders have been invited to join this programme. The Nigerian Academy of Letters and the Nigerian Academy of Science have come together to lead the process, but we are certainly not the only stakeholders required. We need to promote inclusiveness as much as possible. Bringing all those that matter together is not easy and is very expensive. That is why we owe a mountain of gratitude to the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board and its leadership for financially supporting this NAL/NAS/NYA initiative.”
This workshop aimed to bring together stakeholders from academia, government agencies, industry leaders, and educational practitioners to brainstorm and develop effective solutions. By incorporating STEAM, it is hoped that a more innovative and integrated approach can be adopted to nurture well-rounded and capable individuals.
The President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters emphasised the need for urgent and concerted efforts from all stakeholders to reverse the decline in the quality of entrants. “This alarming trend must be addressed promptly to ensure a prosperous future for Nigeria’s education system.”
Also, speaking at the opening ceremony, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB), represented by Prof. Olutayo Adesina, visiting professor of history, JAMB, Oloyede expressed his delight at the auspicious timing of this educational revolution. He emphasised the merits of adopting a holistic educational approach that combines scientific knowledge with artistic expression, ensuring a well-rounded education for the nation’s future leaders.
Prof. Oloyede said a key motivation behind this initiative is the global shift towards the fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by rapid technological advancements. He added that by fostering a strong foundation in STEAM subjects, Nigeria aims to equip its citizens with the skills required to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven world.
He said: “In June 2022, my office received a well-crafted application from the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) to the effect that JAMB should help in advancing the frontiers of knowledge through STEM Education. However, when the proposal went to Management, it was vigorously debated and the ultimate decision was that at this stage of our development, it is better to advance towards STEAM education. This counter-proposal was sent back to NAS and this was pleasantly accepted by both the Nigerian Academy of Science and the NAL.
“Hence today, we are witnessing the fruitful collaboration between the two leading academies thereby creating a platform for the Tripod of Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), and the Nigerian Young Academy (NYA).
“The two (2) Academies and the Youth have now proposed ways to advance STEAM education at primary and secondary educational levels in Nigeria designed to contribute to improving the uptake and quality of education in Nigeria. This will be through the implementation of engaging inquiry-based teaching and learning techniques and other hands-on activities.
“This explains why in addition to funding, JAMB nominates two (2) Directorate staff and a professor to represent the Board on the programme. JAMB chose to sponsor and participate in the project not only because of the integrity and competence of the two academies but also because the youth for which STEAM is primarily meant is part of the initiation, planning, and implementation of the project.
“We call on all who plan educational projects and curricula to always involve the students and the youth to enrich the program and synchronise it with prevailing realities.”