The education summit we need

The education summit we need

2013 has been a year of mixed fortunes for Nigerian education.

I recall with much grief the series of school shootings that took place in Borno and Yobe states; tens of young Nigerians cruelly cut down in their hostels and classrooms.

2013 was also the year the ‘A World At School’ campaign gained prominence. The campaign seeks to draw attention to the fact that Nigeria has the largest number of out-of-school children in the entire world. (More than ten million Nigerian children who should be in school are not getting an education).

To the government’s credit an ambitious Almajiri education scheme has been put in place. This year the Federal government built and handed over tens of Almajiri Model Schools to state governments. As part of this Scheme there’s a commendable focus on girl-child education.

This was also the year of the five-month ASUU strike. Just when we thought we had put lengthy University strikes behind us, this happened; putting the lives of our youth on hold seemingly indefinitely. Even though the strike ended up extracting, from the government, an unprecedented commitment to funding our public Universities, one wishes those gains didn’t have to come at so high a price, for our youth.

Amidst all the turmoil in our education – much cause, no doubt, for sober reflection – I’d like to make a proposal.

In making this proposal it should be taken for granted that I’m also offering my full commitment to supporting the realisation of what I’m proposing.

I’d like to make a call for a Nigerian education summit, to bring all concerned parties to the discussion table, to craft a new vision for bringing education to Nigeria’s teeming youth population.

The question that immediately arises is this: why another summit? To what end?

My answer would be: how about a different kind of education summit.

How about a summit that places, at the forefront of proceedings, the most important stakeholders in education – the students themselves.

I say this because I’m aware that education summits are not a novel idea in Nigeria. A Google search will throw up a number of summits, at state, regional and national levels, in recent years.

What all these summits have in common is that they focus on bringing together governments, teachers unions, and other adult stakeholders.

But the students, who are the ones for whom education systems should exist, are kept outside the door, or on the margins. Our summits become gatherings of policy makers speaking to other policy makers and implementers.

Perhaps, in the spirit of a new year, we can allow ourselves to try a new idea: an education summit in which the policy makers and education experts actually come to listen to the students, the stakeholders who most intensely feel the pinch of the system’s failings and shortcomings.

I’m very much convinced that there can be no significant improvement in the state of education in Nigeria without the active input of students.

In August my office put out a call for submissions for an essay contest on Education Solutions for Nigeria. We got more than 600 entries from Nigerian students within and outside the country. Hundreds of young Nigerians boldly making their voices heard about the education system they’re daily forced to contend with.

The short excerpt below, from one of the winning entries (by Emeka Ezekwesiri, Law, University of Ibadan), highlights the importance of empowering students, within and outside the classroom.

In my secondary school, Federal Government College Ohafia, in 2006 the then newly appointed vice principal academic introduced a policy, where secretly appointed students in each class kept an attendance sheet for teachers, where they recorded teachers attendance based on five criteria; came on time and taught, came early but left early, came late but taught, came late and left early, absent. These students were unknown to the class and teachers but the policy was publicly announced in order for teachers to be aware. These students were concealed to prevent victimization. The teachers were effectively disciplined after verification of the reported conduct.  Through this monitoring scheme, teachers became very serious to the amazement of students, who were forced to also become serious.

Clearly, we need to re-design Nigeria’s education systems in a way that puts some power in the hands of students, allows them to feel like equal and valued parties in the matrix of learning and knowledge dissemination.

And what better way to start this than by giving these students a prominent place in a gathering that aims to chart a new future for Nigerian education.

It is my dream that someday in the near future, when the Federal Government and Teachers’ Unions like ASUU are coming together to discuss critical education issues, the wisdom and insight of our students will be eagerly sought and welcomed in the conversation.  That we will no longer carry on as though our students are marginal partners in education.

It is my belief that we can’t call them the future of our country, and yet persist in trying to keep them out of the most important conversations required to prepare them to become that future.

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17 Comments on "The education summit we need"

  • In any process of education, we can talk about an active relationship between two members: the teacher and the student. We must have a definite aim as regards our children in the community, and in the whole society: to make them better off than ourselves, to make them succeed in life and to make them feel happier about themselves than us.

  • usman aliyu says



  • You are absolutely right sir, we Nigerian students have been marginalized for long and I think it’s hightime we told what is on our mind…I can’t believe NANS was not even allowed on the Negotiation between ASUU and the Federal Government. So, who is ASUU fighting for? Some of the problem we Nigerian students are facing especially at the tetiary institution has been discussed in my article Titled ‘Now That ASUU HAS SPOKEN’ which you can read on my blog through:

    Am a student and an educational consultant, have suffered from the bad policy and I don’t care attitude of government towards education and I only have one wish in my mind, and that is to make education available and accessible to every Nigerian…I believe it is the antidote to the mountainous problem facing Nigeria as a country.

    So, continue with the good work sir! May ALLAH (SWT) be with you and please, know that you are not alone in this sir! All lovers of good life for Nigerains are with you.

    UDA AVIS (may God be with you)

  • Zainab Mohammad says

    “A journey of a thousand miles they say begin with a step” Education system in Nigeria is indeed falling drastically by each passing day! It is my prayer that your idea of a different kind of Education summit is adopted at least let the voices of directly concerned be heard. Certain policies are being made every now and then concerning our Education which only benefit those at the top and not the students. What a way to start 2014. Thank u sir!

  • Kasieobi says

    Nice proposal. Nice idea. What would be the outcome of the summit? How do you intend to carry on after the summit, especially, how to implement some of the discussions that the summit would have as ‘White’ lol…’Black”Paper? I commend you Sir, for your concern about the youth and the country in general. I also understand that you acknowledged that the present Federal government, in your words ”to the government’s credit an ambitious Almajiri education scheme has been put in place. This year the Federal government built and handed over tens of Almajiri Model Schools to state governments. As part of this Scheme there’s a commendable focus on girl-child education.” . This is cheering and much commendable to come from you. This is why it is important that you inspire other elites to try and speak to the people; write blogs and publish statements. It is through this way that people would be able to see beyond the fogs of our inner persons as against how the media has portrayed us. Over these years, I particularly have been won over by you due to some of these your publications and private social responsibilities? – charities, that have benefited so many less privileges in our society. I also wish that everyone of us should be bold enough to speak the truth irrespective other factors. Healthy politics is what the country needs, such as this your public admittance of the efforts of the present Federal government on Almajiri education. This is very healthy for our country. I wish you great success in the plans which you have about the outcome of the summit and believe me, whatever commitments you make of it to ensure the discussions turns into a working model and reality, nature prepares a special place for you. No one can tell about how it works, but it is self-evident that giving is life and I also read about your invitation at Madiba’s burial. You saw it. You saw everything. So many people in Nigeria are richer than Mandela, but inside these peoples heart, there is that vacuum due to their repeated cheating on nature – cheating by having to create such environments where so many of their people are reduced to sub-human forms, while they wallow in stupendous wealth. ”Where there are so much poverty, wealth is something to be ashamed of; where there are negative politics, nationalism is something to be ashamed of”.

  • Johnson Ayodele Ogundeji says

    An education summit will suffice,but with university education,the whole ball game is different.While the idea of the winning entry above may work in Primary and Secondary schools,it will not be in the best interest of bought the lecturers and the students.If what the government will like to check is the integrity of the lecturers to work,the best universities abroad have good models.Fundamentally,we must perceive university education differently from what our Nigerian environment and polity wants it to be.That is to be able to monitor the lecturers job,time and all what not rather than his/her productivity and commitment to the overall success of his/her own research in his/her field along with the mentoring the students will achieve from being an integral part of it all.I am currently a M.Sc program intending student,or say waiting for resumption, and all through my undergraduate days,I critically analysed and had a feel of what university education has succumbed to in the name of pay,politics,victimization and all.Another scheme to victimize, however subtily and positively we might integrate it, will further drive education away from meaningful and much needed development.
    I take time to state the above fact because most foremost Nigerian University are on the verge of major breakthrough,no matter how low in esteem we perceive them.What would be of help,will be more of a strategic student/lecturer dialogue that is geared towards solving specific issues,with adequate financial industrial/governmental backing after appropriate scholarly verification of implementability.I am from the best university in Nigeria,and I am aware that if you dont allow a lecturer choose his/her own method,haven offcourse employed the most competent of them based not just on their academic credentials,but also on the track records of their ability to motivate positive change.In that way,we can rid the academics of sadists who have either made themselves so,because of the myriads of challenges and lack of motivation for an academic job in the first place.
    I and a couple of friends have created and have been involved in several projects that influence and directly impact students on all fronts with only little recourse to taken the often threaded shortcuts of victimization and sadism.An objective and productive Education Dialogue is a better path.By the way,students are not the major stakeholders in a university system.Our culture wants or tends to make it so.A university is committed basically to Reasearch and Development, and that is ‘supposed’ to take the ample time of the lecturer.Unfortunately,that has not been the case,as the blame has always been on the lack of equipped laboratories and funding.An average lecturer spends just about 4 hours a day in the lecture room.Students become important for the continuity of expertise in research fields for their country or self.Because we have so much students per lecturer per university,we tend to consider them the major stakeholders.If students determined the happenings in a university based on their vote for or against a policy,as opposed to the appropriate and standard lecturing or university methods,catastrophe will result.And I bet you,students will skew their decisions or votes in favor of themselves in their present state and will rarely make matured decisions based on future advancements.

  • You are absolutely right sir, we the Nigerian students have been marginalized and it is high time we told them that enough is enough…Looking at the negotiation between the Federal Government and ASUU, why can’t they invite NANS to the negotiation table? I bet we all know the answer to that question.
    Am a student and an educational consultant, every blessed day of my life, the state of Nigerian education bothers me and dampen my spirits but what can I do alone? But as you have said, Let all Stake Holders come out, join hands and revive the education sector before it gets damaged beyond repair….
    I wrote an article on what we Nigerian Students at the Tertiary Institution are facing in the hands of our lecturers, you could view it through this link:
    Your opinion about the article would be highly appreciated sir… And as for your contribution to Mrs Ruona Agbokoro Meyer, I say an Emphatic THANK YOU! Cos I happened to be one of those who benefited from her journalism workshop which took place this year at Fatai Atere, the Head quarter of The Nation Newspaper.

    Thank you once again and God Bless You Sir.

  • kelvin irondi says

    I am very happy,because this summit wil bring about change and help our educational standard.our states and federal schools are behind.I pray this summit brings about change.

  • I am a 400l student of Bingham University. Even though I school in a private university where I am hardly affected by strikes and non chalant attitude towards strike,it makes me greatly aggrieved 2c my fellow students go through such frustrations so I am in complete support of your proposal and I promise 2also contribute my intelligence and support as a lady and as a trust worthy citizen of Nigeria,because I know that even though I am a Nigerian, I am a Nigerian LADY WITH A DIFFERENCE!!!

  • ogundare bright says

    True talk sir. We the students are the major stakeholders not the government

  • Abatcha ali abatcha says

    The nigeria university system is currently too rigid and narow, the most important thing is not just about the corriculum and teachres but, to help the young people to stand confidently in the threshold of adulthood, to see how wide open the world can be with the education. University is place where young people will make the world their own. We need the summit, so that we will make Nigeria their own.
    Student unimaid,
    Computer engineering.

  • Abatcha ali abatcha says

    The nigeria university system is currently too rigid and narow, the most important thing is not just about the corriculum and teachres but, to help the young people to stand confidently in the threshold of adulthood, to see how wide open the world can be with the education. University is place where young people will make the world their own. We need the summit, so that we will make Nigeria our own.
    Student unimaid,
    Computer engineering.

  • Kennedy says

    Atiku, I completely agree with you. Nigeria’s educational system needs a complete overhauling

  • sirOscie says


  • sirOscie says

    I applaud your efforts and investments in education Turaki! The best thing you can give to a people EDUCATION.


  • Trackback from The Education Summit We Need by Atiku Abubakar -

    [...] Former Nigerian Vice President takes a look at the Nigerian Education Sector in 2013 and makes a call for a Nigerian education summit to move things forward in the education sector. The interesting article was published on his website. [...]

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