Tuesday, September 5, 2017

JAMB-lowered pass marks –Sosan, ex-Lagos DG

It is worrisome trend for a society where children sent to school to positively shape their future are targeted and forcibly abducted by criminal for money. The motivating for such dastardly act against innocent students and teachers is one that continues to bug the minds of all right-thinking persons.

Equally baffled over the malaise is former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan. She said the act is such that should be condemned, and should not be attempted against children. The former Commissioner for Education in Lagos added her voice in appealing to the consciences of kidnappers to refrain.

During a recent encounter with the Sun Education in Lagos, Sosan also spoke on some other challenges of the education, especially the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) lowered cut-off mark.

How does the new wave of violent crimes in our schools particularly, kidnap of school children and teachers make you feel?

Actually, due to the recession in the country, many have lost their jobs and so on, they have taken that as an excuse to do what they are not supposed to do and which is not good by any standard. There are other areas, if you don’t have a regular job that you can go into. There are some new skills you can learn so that you can earn a living and be self dependent.

No poor person is actually going to pull out of hardship as a career by kidnapping or abducting these innocent children. Why kidnap innocent children and teachers? If you have the fear of God and you are a father yourself, you won’t do that. We will just be appealing to them that they should please refrain. We are against kidnapping in all its totality. But for these children?  That should be no-go-area.  

 It affects them psychologically. Even their education would be affected. They will be afraid to even go to any school to learn.  So, we just continue to appeal to them.  These children are innocent. They should not use them as means for getting illegal money.

Having been in charge of education in Lagos State, from the time you left office till date, what has changed in the sector in Lagos and the nation?

I may be partial but, I want to say I am not. The progress has been continuous in Lagos State, especially, when you judge from children’s performance, based on our investment on education and facilities. The progress has been impressive. Especially, it has been round pegs in round holes. People that had been managing education in Lagos State have done the right thing. Our schools have been improving more and more. Our teaching standard has improved. And when we judge the result of our children, which is the output of all input, it’s been very encouraging.

But, nationally, I know a few states also, that have done so well.  At the last WAEC result, I think it was Abia State that came first.  Its so, so, so encouraging that that even States outside Lagos, they’re doing well in education now. It means some governors that know the worth of education are investing in education.  However, there are still many states that need to do that. We need to improve the school environment and the school system, mostly the personnel, that is, the teachers, by providing conducive environment, access to training, which many of them don’t do.

Teachers need to have access to innovations and what is happening all over the world. Even myself, I have retired from office, but I still go for education summits just to increase my knowing and update my knowledge so that when I am contributing, I know what I am talking about.

So, at the federal government level, they still need to do a lot, especially, in the area of early childhood education. We are not doing much there. And that is the bedrock we are supposed to build on. You compare with what goes on in the private schools, you would see that the children start at earlier.  That is why you see them performing so well. If we include that in public schools also, and at the national level, that support is given through UBEC, I think the quality we are talking about in education will be much, much better.

The JAMB cut-off mark for entry into tertiary institutions has steadily been lowered. In your candid opinion, what does this lowering of the bar portend for the already bastardized education system?

What else does it portend that we continue to bring it down while others up their guidelines or their criteria for getting into something. I want to say that is not good enough because that makes the children to be lazy. They have to work hard to get what they want. I spoke to a girl in Finland, and she who told me that before their university admission, there are some tests and examinations they must pass very well. So, when we they bring down the criteria, I think that should be reviewed.

We should make these children to work hard and not just watching telly and all whatever they do.

If you were to work at the federal Ministry of Education, what would attract your attention the most in changing the face of education in Nigeria?

 Well, we have professional there. They know what they will do. They know what they are supposed to do. We are all stakeholders. If the opportunity is there, then I will know what to do too.

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