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Author Name: Remi-Niyi Alaran
Number of articles: 5
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Open Letter to Minister of Education, Nigeria - Part 1
Author: Remi-Niyi Alaran | November 24, 2006

Dear Minister, Welcome to your new post. Your reputation in restructuring and rebranding the ministry of solid minerals development precedes you in good light, as does your previous work as "Madam Due Diligence". One can only hope that your appointment to the embattled Ministry of Education indicates goodwill, at last, by a series of federal governments of Nigeria. This letter is in two sections. The first section briefly outlines an environment in which education is responds to tne needs of society. The second section addresses how such pro-active education can be implemented and funded, with government participation. This is not an exhaustive evaluation of the complexities involving education in Nigeria. It is only an outline of how private interests can be aligned with government policy to produce a higher standard of education. SECTION 1: WHO WANTS AN EDUCATION? Education is an ongoing process throughout one's life. It occurs both within formal and informal contexts, as such, formal learning in 'schools' interacts with informal learning that occurs within the broader home, religion, media and work environments. Nigeria has a useful formal institutional framework in its curriculum. But, even if the physical institutions themselves are inadequate, their occupants are uninspired and, often, unimaginative in defining what they want from their education and how to achieve it whether or not external assistance is available. Let us agree that the business of providing education is a BUSINESS. The role of government in the education business, as in any other business of strategic importance to the nation, is to safeguard a condusive environment for local providers and consumers of education to mutually gain; At minimum, the duty of governiment involves setting and enforcing quality standards, co-funding [not solely funding] research, and securing markets for local businesses (the schools) and products (the educated). For most consumers of education, the purpose of education is in achieving skills of potential use in making saleable products and services, That they recognise this purpose and are willing to pay for it is evidenced in the growth of private education businesses across the world, including Nigeria. Let us enable the providers of education to also benefit from their business. But who are the providers of education? For a child in school, the providers are its peers, parents, teachers and local community. Hence the importance of 'parents-teachers associations' and 'old boys / old girls / alumni associations' in fostering academic standards, funding, governance and other quality initiatives in schools. They INVEST in the schools, or will do so if they feel they have the means to invest and to obtain adequate returns on their investment. This investment is not only monetary. Most schools cannot generate sufficient continous funding to pay for their need for books, teachers, physical or information infrastructure. In the community, there is an abundance of under-employed or unemployed parents and youth with skills in carpentary, electrical maintenance, computer installation, sports management... Surely, a workable solution exists? This article also appeared at

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