The nation’s education policy of 9-3-4 may soon be replaced by another one, as the Federal Government has almost concluded plans to change the existing policy to a 1-6-3-3-4 education structure. The Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqquayat Rufa’i, while announcing the imminent change, said the proposed structure would be a re-modification of the 9-3-4 system of education which came into being in 2009 only when the old 6-3-3-4 was dropped.

This new system, already proposed to the National Assembly, it was learnt, is being planned to include the exposure of five-year-old learners to one-year of Early Childhood Education before they proceed to the six-year basic education.

According to Rufa’i, it is sequel to the recommendations of the Presidential Task Team on Education, which President Goodluck Jonathan had already approved.

According to the minister, 1-6- 3-3-4 signifies that the first year of education will be for a child of five years.

The six-year component will be for primary education, while the other three, three and four years would be for junior and senior secondary schools, and tertiary education respectively.

Before this proposal, the nation’s educational system had gone through many modifications. In the late 70s and 80s, it was the 6-5-4 system that was in place. This system represented six years in the primary school, five years in the secondary school and four years in the tertiary institution.

Again, a shift in policy later came up, and it gave birth to Higher School Certificate, popularly known as HSC, which gave another two-year stop gap of learning to pupils after secondary school, before they proceeded to the university.

Later, several shifts in policy thrusts on education had emerged. Nigeria has had 6-3-3-4, and 9-3-4 systems of education.

The 6-3-3-4 indicated six years in the primary school, three years each in junior and senior secondary schools respectively; and four years in the higher institution.

The 6-3-3-4 was modified in 2009, which led to the present 9-3-4 system of education.

This was done with the view to including the components of basic, technical and vocational inputs into the curriculum, as pupils were expected to complete the first nine years before proceeding on a career path in the next three years of secondary education.

These modifications, as far as government is concerned, are all aimed at giving Nigerian pupils and students qualitative and pragmatic education. But whether that has been achieved or not is a story for another day.

Stakeholders are, however, divided over the proposed system of education. While some are in support of the policy, others are opposed to it. Those in support note that it is good as it is already being practised by private school owners; while those opposed to it argue that there is nothing wrong with the existing system. They say it will result to another policy somersault, which they claim had been the bane of education development in the country.

The Proprietress, Mindbuilders Schools, Lagos, Mrs. Bola Falore, says she is worried by the inconsistency in policy formulation in the educational sector. She notes that the government has yet to tell the populace what was wrong with the 6-3-3-4 or the 9-3-4 before proposing another one.

She says, “I believe they introduced the nursery system into primary education for five-year-old children. In advanced countries, children start learning from between ages three and four, and by the time they spend two years in school, they move formally to the primary school.

“Is this what they are trying to copy? My worry is: for how long would they practise this policy ifit eventually sails through?”

The Principal, King’s College, Lagos, Mr. Dele Olapeju, says it is a right step in the right direction, stressing that the system started from aprivate initiative, in which children from agesfour and five were enrolled informally in school until they were mature to proceed to primary school at age six.

He says, “It started from the private operators of education in what the Yoruba called Jeleosinmi (which literally means let the household have some peace), in which children were enrolled from age five into the school informally. From there, they start acquiring education, andwhen they clocked age six, they moved to the primary school formally.

“I think now the Federal Government wants to make it universal, which means it will be a policy for both private and public schools.”

A Lagos-based teacher, Mr. Omoniyi David, agrees with Olapeju, arguing that it is improper to have children of between four and five years already in the primary school, which, he notes, is now prevalent in some privateschools.

He says there is the need for such children to have been prepared before they are enrolled in primary school.

He states, “There is need for parents to stop enrolling those children that are not yet six years into primary school. Some of these parents are in such a hurry that they enroll their children straight into the primary school from ages four and five years.

“This set of children create problems for teachers, because many of them do not know their right from their left.This new arrangement (policy) will definitely address this problem to alarge extent, if it is implemented in both private and public schools.”
Meanwhile, many Nigerians also have taken to the social mediato make their contributions on this new education policy.

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