On National Senior Secondary Education Commission, by Saleh Bature
Every institution has a critical juncture and a special time it considers its moment of glory. For senior secondary education in Nigeria, the establishment of National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC), to prescribe minimum standards for secondary education throughout Nigeria and manage national secondary education fund is the turning point and a defining moment.
It is sad to note that senior secondary education in Nigeria follows the same trajectory of life of an orphan and abandoned child. The sector has suffered neglect and lack of political will from the previous governments of Nigeria. Thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu for taking the bull by the horns. They breathe new life into the hitherto moribund National Secondary Education Commission (NSEC) by resuscitating the law establishing it under act No. 47 of 26th May, 1999 laws of the federation of Nigeria.
For over two decades, the education sub-sector in Nigeria has figuratively been walking like a lame duck for lack of an agency to regulate it. ‘’This has had negative impact on the production of competent trained manpower at sub-professional grade in senior secondary school in Nigeria as well as production of non-viable inputs into the tertiary education institutions’’, lamented the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
The establishment of NSSEC could not have come at a better time. While primary and junior secondary education is regulated by the Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC), and colleges of education, polytechnics and universities by National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) National Board of Technical Education (NBTE), and National Universities Commission, (NUC), respectively, it is unfortunate that only senior secondary education sub-sector is left to hang on the balance.
With the emergence of NSSEC as an agency of the ministry of education, stakeholders in education in Nigeria, education administrators and the beneficiary students especially, will hope to see in not too long-distant future, a meteoric rise in standards of secondary education in Nigeria.
Dr. Benjamin Abakpa was appointed as the pioneer Executive Secretary to lead the commission in April 21, 2021. The appointment of Dr. Abakpa, a path breaker, water walker, mathematics education scholar, seasoned and thorough bread academic cum education administrator, as the head honcho of NSSEC is apposite, auspicious, and could not have come at a better time than now.
As soon as he took over the management of NSSEC, Dr. Abakpa felt that the Commission will have to get a total buy-in from state governments, traditional institutions and stakeholders in the education sector to succeed in its core mandate. To this end, education stakeholders recently converged under the auspices of NSSEC at an advocacy and sensitization forum from the North-East geo-political zone in Bauchi.
The forum, which examined and discussed issues bordering on resuscitation, repositioning and implementation of the new National Senior Secondary Education Commission and Senior Secondary in Nigeria, will be held at different times at all the zones of the federation.
The task ahead of the Executive Secretary and his staff is herculean as it relates to senior secondary education as the most critical and vital of the three levels of education in the country. The responsibility of nurturing a commission of the magnitude of NSSEC from cradle to maturity is not by any means easy. The commission has to therefore grapple with issues that have to do with poor condition of senior secondary schools such as dilapidated structures, poor instructional and infrastructural facilities including ICT, inadequate number of qualified teachers, low student to teacher ratio, inadequate acquisition of life skills by students, and inadequate funding, among others.
To achieve the goals of NSSEC, management of the commission must invest in staff because the staff are the commission’s most valuable asset. People matter most in both public and private organizations because they are the most essential contributors toward the progress and development of the organization. In today’s dynamic work environment, it is human assets that give edge to organizations.
The sixty staff seconded and redeployed from the ministries, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government to set up the National Senior Secondary Education Commission are well experienced in their various fields, enthusiastic about the job, and are ready to chart a new course for the commission. As NSSEC is structured along the universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Dr. Abakpa and his hands on staff have much to learn and improve upon the achievement of UBEC.
As partners in progress, it is hoped that the collaboration between National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC) and State Senior Secondary Education Boards (SSEB) would improve the quality of secondary schools especially in the areas of Science, Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurial education throughout Nigeria.
saleh Bature wrote in this piece from NDIC Quarters, LImpopo Street Maitama Abuja. He is reachable at [email protected]