The visit to Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan, and Inje by 23 teachers from April 1-22 closely follows a trip by education bosses from the African nation.
Education Ministry Deputy Director Awofisayo Olufunke said that Korean teaching through information and communications technology was “out of this world” during her visit sponsored by the Korea International Cooperation Agency.
“We have come to see the Korean example which is foremost in the world and to learn from Korea and see how we can grow this into our own educational system,” Olufunke said.
She and eight education managers from her country’s State Universal Basic Education Board took part in the first stage of the pilot project from March 4-18.
“If there is anything that Korea has shown the world it is that with human capital we can do anything. I think that everyone knows now that the most important resources in the mix of all sectors of production are good human resources,” said Nigerian Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission Ozo Nwobu. “Nigeria hopes to benefit from the Korean experience.”
The recent workshop led by the Seoul-based Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding aimed to help find ways to raise basic standards of education in Nigeria. Participants visited educational institutions, received lectures from experts and toured schools here to learn from Korea’s experience.
“Korea has moved from an underdeveloped nation to a donor country and I think it is a result of their commitment to education and successive governments that had focus on education,” regional education board chairman Salihu Girei Bakari said.
|Nigerian education chiefs try on Korean traditional dress during their visit to Seoul. (APCEIU)|
“In countries where you have oil ― for example Nigeria is the seventh largest producer of oil in the world ― I would assume naturally that if you have got resources then you can make progress, but it is not the case.”
The Nigerian government is pushing education as a means of economic development, prioritizing schools and teacher training.
The former British colony has been striving to improve education since returning to civilian rule in 1999.
But UNESCO’s 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report showed that education was improving at a very slow pace, with low school enrolment and large sections of the school-aged population not attending class.
Only half of Nigeria’s estimated 599,000 teachers had met the country’s minimum teaching qualifications, according to a 2006 UNESCO report.
But Bakari said that Nigeria could learn from Korea’s long-distance learning methods such as the Educational Broadcasting System to help his country’s nomadic peoples access education.
“Just like EBS here, wherever they travel you can use the radio to teach them and wherever possible we will try to settle them because it is far easier. We will build schools for them together with bore holes for water so that they want to stay in one place,” he added.
According to the Nigerian government, just 0.35 percent ― about 22,700 ― of Nigeria’s 6.4 million nomadic adults and children benefit from educational provision.
Some of Nigeria’s 179 nomadic schools are already using radio to reach their students, but the country must deal with issues such as the 250 ethnic groups across its 36 states, speaking about 400 languages.
And Bakari, SUBEB chairman from Nigeria’s Adamawa state, added: “Before reaching for ICT, Nigeria must first build schools, hire teachers and devise curricula.
“It is about infrastructure, it is about building classrooms it is about training of teachers, it is about textbooks, it is about social mobilization and trying to sensitize the general public, especially families and parents, and more particularly rural areas where education is seen to be synonymous with westernization and are scared of losing their culture, religion and other things.”
He added: “It is about trying to achieve everything using the limited resources that are available.”
In many Nigerian schools, computer teaching is still theoretical because they lack real computers.
“Because of the level of ICT in our country we cannot as of now achieve the things that Korea is doing,” Katsina state education board chairman Suleiman Dikko said.
“But in our next proposal to KOICA we are considering submitting a proposal for nomadic education in terms of solar power units or a wind power unit.”
KOICA has already built elementary schools in the areas of Gombe and Adamawa to help at least 3,600 more children attend school. And KOICA president Park Dae-won reportedly told Nigerian Education Minister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike last month that the agency will boost its work in technical and vocational education there. The minister has asked for technical colleges in four more states following schools constructed in Kogi and Katsina. KOICA also plans to build a model primary school in Abuja and the Teachers’ Institute in Enugu.
“We need to go back to the drawing board so that we can supply skills for these people so that they can make a niche for themselves in the job market,” Nwobu said.
By Kirsty Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)