The person who calls his/her child Nkemdirim is not asking for too much! The person is simply asking God to confirm and sustain his gift to him or her. He or she is also asking God to imbue that gift with utility, distinctiveness, a sense of identity, permanence and sustainability. Nkemdirim is also a prayer that the gift remains with us whatever may be the vicissitudes of life!
People advance and progress when they grow, solidify and edify what is theirs. People advance when they build on their positive values and assets. Peoples and nations advance recognizing the value of what is theirs and not by uncritical self abandonment nor by group rejection nor through the adoption of the structures that belong to others. You cannot be an Ogaranya with someone else’s wealth or structure. Charity and beauty, they say, start from home. “Eji eshi uyo mara mma fuma ama” the Owerri person would say, and correctly too!
We approach others with more confidence and with a greater sense of security when invested and vested in our uniqueness, our USP, if you like. These constitute our distinctiveness.
In such situations, our base is firm, our unit flags, our symbols and our totems are visible, unique, vibrant and distinctive.
These things give us identity. A family, a village, a town, a clan…indeed, any structure without identity is lost and will be absorbed by others in a way that degrades it and ultimately wipes it off from any serious reckoning.
As in life, so also in other spheres of life, including associating with others in politics. Which political structure is ours? Just asking! Nkemdirim.
Interest in increasing the effectiveness of actors and duty bearers in the public domain has continued to grow since its beginnings following the launch of the movement in new public management (Hood, 1991; Gruening, 2001). The advantages claimed for a New Public management (NPM) approach in governance include the following – greater efficiency, greater focus on performance and results as well as their objective measurement, improved use of resources, these including human, financial and material resources. Hand in hand with these developments in public sector management has been a call for greater value for money in the use of resources appropriated by governments in the provision of basic social services such as Basic Education, primary health care as well as water and environmental sanitation. Members of parliament have important roles not only in ensuring that budgets are approved and appropriated for the provision of such basic social services but also in seeing that the approved budgets are utilized in manners consistent with the best practices in public finance management (PFM). Such roles ensure that cost savings, cost efficiencies and service maximization are achieved in the use of public resources and assets.
It is such development thinking that informs the support that development partners working through relevant ministries continue to provide to the training and sensitization of law makers in Nigeria. UNICEF, for instance, has supported the design and development of a training manual for the training and sensitization of law makers from the state houses of assembly who are members of house committee on education. The purpose is to aid in their understanding of the processes primarily around the UBE act as well as other education documents/plans as a necessary step strengthening their capacity to provide required legislation and oversight for the education sector.
The training/sensitization programme has two objectives:
- to facilitate an enhanced understanding of the education sector and its recurring challenges.
- to acquaint law makers on the role they should play to protect education especially at the basic level through legislation and oversight.
Basic Education is the foundation of all education. If the foundation is weak, then the entire edifice risks instability and possible eventual collapse. It is therefore important that this substructure of education is solidly built. Secondly, basic education caters for the education for all at the base. It is thus the level of education with the greatest egalitarian relevance and appeal. It is the level of education that any one with an interest in inclusive education will first to need to tackle and get right. A society with an interest in stimulating economic growth through investment in education will also need to invest in basic education as it has been shown to have multiplier effects of all other aspects of education and uptake of basic social services. All the thinking above inform global interest in universal basic education as one lever for vital socio-economic transformation.
The UBE programme in Nigeria has its parentage in a number of human rights documents and development program thinking. Most human rights declarations make the important distinction between those who have rights holders and those whose custodial, constitutional and social functions are to ensure that those rights are met. Such persons are known as duty bearers. There is now evidence that the capacity and ability of duty bearers to effectively discharge their obligations to duty holders is a function of several factors –
- Understanding and appreciation of those rights
- Importance and significance of those rights
- Awareness of and Empathy with the plight of rights holder
- Sense of Solidarity with rights holder
- Level of Education and information of the basis of those rights
- Knowledge of what to do and who to partner with to further those rights etc
In furthering the actualization of the rights of rights holders, duty bearers carry out a number of linked functions which include
- Service provision
- Service supervision and monitoring,
- Advocacy and awareness creation,
- Alliance building and networking
- Standards setting
- Compliance monitoring
- Law making
- Mentoring, etc
Though all these functions are important, perhaps the most important is that of supervision. Supervision ensures compliance with agreed standards, proper resource utilisation, service provider conduct and presence, effective service delivery and waster minimisation. This is true whether we are dealing with duty bearer functions in the areas of water and sanitation, housing, leisure, recreation, nutrition or education. Indeed, in basic education, supervision by duty bearers leads to greater value for money and to ensuring that public resources set aside for or dedicated to basic education are optimally utilized.
Of all duty bearers, members of the house of representatives, especially those in committees charged with oversight functions for Basic education, have a critical role to play in the sustenance of BASIC EDUCATION. They can carry out these roles in several ways, some of which have been mention in passing earlier in our general consideration of the roles of duty bearers in the provision of universal basic education. With specific regard to this subsector of basic social services, members of the House committee can get involved in the following ways
Advocating with the Executive for improved budgets for basic education
Insisting on improved public finance management as it concerns basic education at all levels of the value chain
Moving bills for basic education management, administration and or improvement, be these in the areas of minimum standards, Teacher hiring and firing, Teacher Incentives, Teacher Qualifications, Conditions for PRESET and INSET
Monitoring resource utilization in basic education
Lobbying, influencing and mobilizing other policy makers, the executive, the private sector and other social influencers for necessary policy changes that would advance all aspects of basic education be it Access, Retention, Quality and Completion.
To carry out these many functions, such House committee members need to equipped through exposure to a learning package which blends elements of sensitisation and guided learning experiences to acquire certain skills, affects and capacities.
The rest of this paper describes the steps taken in the design and development of this special programme for house committee members of basic education. It describes the processes adopted as well as the considerations that informed them.The development described below was carried out by a group of educators, teacher trainers, educational planners and administrators working together as a team. The emphasis here is on team work.
Step 1 – identify the essential core and content of the learning package.
To do this, the team had to answer the question – for a house member to lobby effectively for universal Basic education, to monitor Basic education provision, to provide oversight for basic education provision, to make laws for basic education, to move bills for basic education, to become an advocate for basic education, what does he or she need to know? Questions like this represent some form of indirect needs assessment. As is now well accepted, needs assessment is a necessary first step in the design of relevant learning experiences and packages. Carried out in the form of a brain storming exercise by the design team, this exercise yielded the following three core knowledge needs/areas of vital learning
These three core learning areas were examined and debated until consensus was achieved that they constituted the necessary, sufficient-Adequate and relevant tripod on which the learning package for House committee members could be built. It is important for us to remind ourselves here that necessity, sufficiency-adequacy and relevance are the prime determinants of correct choices in curriculum design.
Step 2 Conduct a task analysis and work breakdown of each of the elements of the legs of the tripod
The team agreed that the next step would demand that each leg of the tripod be now broken into its constituent parts. For this exercise, the writing team broke into three groups, with a group working on one of the tripods. At the end of the exercise, a plenary was conducted and the following sketch outlines were agreed upon for each of the three arms of the tripod.
Policy framework for basic education – National Policy on Education (NPE) 2013, normative framework for basic education provision
- The National Policy on Education (NPE) – policy thrust and specification and prescriptions by level
- Normative frameworks influencing and guiding educational provosions- The Universal Declaration of Human rights, The UN Convention Rights of the Child, The African Union Charter on African Child, The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Ssustainable Development Goals (SDG)
- Data speaks – the importance of data in education planning and what current data says for each state
- Key issues in Basic Education – Access, Participation, Retention, Completion, Quality and their indicators, Net versus Gross enrolment
- Contending issues in basic education – Equity, Inclusion, Inclusion, Gender, Costs of Basic Education, Benefit of Basic Education, Externalities of Basic education, Out of School Children;
- Things that make for quality education – learner, instructional, administrative, school plant, and environmental factors
- Quality indicators in basic education delivery
- Quality versus non – quality indicators in Basic Education
Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP) – some history and Context and How UBEP works
- National and global antecedents of UPE and UBE
- The Regions and Education Ordinances
- UBE Legislative framework.
- Education indicators
- Education plans and levels – strategic plans versus operational plans
- Effective schools – their attributes and things to look out when monitoring basic education
- How to make schools effective
- Obstacles in the implementation of Basic Education and Strategies to overcome them.
- Example of successful implementation of basic education act from a comparable country and what this means for Nigeria
Functions of House Committee on Education with regards to Universal Basic Education
- Committee members and their roles and responsibilities to the basic education sub-sector
- Skills required to discharge these roles and to function effectively
- Revisit to core indicators that would guide the discharge of the roles and responsibilities of house committee members
Constitute each of these tripods into a learning session and develop learning outcomes for each session
At the end of this session, participants should be able to:
Members of the Education Committee have among their numerous functions the responsibility of oversight of education matters. This responsibility involves ensuring a variety of outcomes in education through monitoring, supervision, advocating, lobbying for bills and laws by consultations, communication, negotiation, consensus and relationship building.
At the end of the session, House Committee Members should be able to:
Develop the learning package in line with steps 1-3 above
Subject the output of step to peer review, critique and validation.
Validation of this training document was done through a live presentation with lawmakers from four states. Reception was positive and indeed enthusiastic. The writing team however also learnt a few lessons from active engagement and participation in the process for strategic planning and Programme implementation
Some lessons were learnt in developing the training materials. These include the following:
importance of team work
importance of context sensitive learning materials development
importance of peer review
the sobering truth that effective curriculum building as an interactive process
the fact that effective curriculum development is an iterative process
importance of stating clear and realistic learning outcomes
Hood C. 1991. A public management for all seasons?, Public Administration. Vol. 69. No. 1
Gruening, G (2001) Origin and theoretical basis of New Public Management, International Public Management Journal 4, 1–25
Talking points for the
CABE/C4D/GEP 3 workshop April 2019
Noel A. Ihebuzor, FSSD
- What is C4D?
- Fefer to processes, strategies, materials and activities conceived and executed to catalyze, galvanize, spur, support development efforts in a given polity
- Is context sensitive and culture informed and incorporates elements of semiotics, marketing, journalism, sociology, psychology, metrics, monitoring and evaluation and business management.
- Grew out of initial beginnings in audiovisual aids and then to IEC, through BCC and to full grown C4D
- C4D is integrated and Deals with both the supply and demand side of development planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Excerpt from Unicef
Communication for Development (C4D) is one of the most empowering ways of improving health, nutrition and other key social outcomes for children and their families.
In UNICEF, C4D is defined as a systematic, planned and evidence-based strategic process to promote positive and measurable individual behaviour and social change that is an integral part of development programmes, policy advocacy and humanitarian work.
C4D uses dialogue and consultation with, and participation of children, their families and communities. It privileges local contexts and relies on a mix of communication tools, channels and approaches. C4D is not public relations or corporate communications.
C4D seeks to accelerate achievement of key results in UNICEF’s Medium-term Strategic Plan (MTSP) for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by:
|Increasing knowledge and awarenessImproving and building new skillsMaintaining and increasing demand for products and servicesImproving the performance of service providers Changing individual behaviors and collective practicesInfluencing attitudes, social norms and power relationshipsEnhancing self-esteem and promoting self-efficacyChanging national and local policies and legislation|
- Basic education needs C4D but according to the consultant C4D is under-represented in education unlike in medicine
- And Education?
- Education is core to development
- Education confers so many benefits
- The unplanned benefits are known as externalities
- Externalities include increased earning ability, poverty reduction, break in intergenerational transmission of poverty, drop in fertility, rise in literacy etc
- EDUCATION at both global and local levels is characterized by issues of gender based, social class related and location induced disparities
- Too many kids of the poor are out of school for a host of reasons
- Too many kids in rural areas are out of school – economics, culture, patriarchy, male child preference, parental poverty, ignorance, superstition, religious zeal?
- Key issues in education are ACCESS, QUALITY & ACCOUNTABILITY
- Access issues include limited number in schools OOSCI, absence of school space, low NER and GER, NAR, plus the distance that drive these – fees, distance to school, safety issues
- Quality issues deal with instructional materials and teacher factors in school including teacher training, teacher numbers, and time spent on teaching, curriculum, methods and methodology and a host of CFS related issues
- Accountability challenges relate to general governance issues, stakeholder engagement, school supervision, duty bearer failures – eg not mobilizing communities, not creating awareness, poor service delivery, rights holders not asking for their rights, the externalizing of responsibilities, ignorance, weakness, sloppiness, failures in attendance monitoring, teacher management and general incentives,
- The general theory on which the study is designed around is that all of these are amenable to improvement through C4D
- Is the pitch for Integrating Koranic schools a red herring? What of quality issues involved?
- Study also looks at the mapping of current C4D interventions and suggests how synergies can be achieved through better stakeholder coordination and dialogue
What you saw
You say you saw
patterns heave and dance
you say you saw them
Weave and leave
No one else says they saw
what you say you saw
just you, with your diamond
at the three quarter corner of night
when straggler angels
flee the light of the returning day
Yours was a vision
Filled with emptiness
Where bleached blankness
Empties all other visions
The jungle always,
wakes up and a new day
Sounds soon crowd out silence
prophets see dimly
but their rising voices
Soon outdo agberos
In this space,
a life is worth
In this place,
men combine religion and region
creed with breed in the service
of a contest fuelled need
and sustained by greed
Locked in their frenzied contest
the wrestlers have locked out sense
the present overwhelms the past
drowns the future
and yesterday’s smiles
Wakes up in today’s
Self beatify, uncertain of outcomes
as uncertified foul odor
floods the present
overwhelms the air pregnant with hope
nourished by dope
stunted elves dance and sway
waving a medley of signs and symbols
crescent, cross and stars
and I sensed I heard the moon howl
Predators now prance like Simba
the lion king
the story teller casts
his charmed beads around legs, heads
hips, feet and heels held by hope
but fettered by dope
Social media often presents us in very succinct terms divergent views on the same phenomenon. Take the APC administration, for example. Since the 29th May, 2018, media has been swamped with claims and confutations of its successes and of its failures. This morning on Twitter, I came across two very diametrically opposed appraisals of its performance in the last three years – two views, two verdicts of its performance using broadly identical criteria and indicators! Certainly, the two views cannot be right at the same time. So, which is the correct view? Which is the more balanced appraisal?
I present both appraisals with apologies for any unintended violations of copyright to their authors!
Is it this ?
Choose your choice and state your reasons
Truth is often bitter but it is the perfect antidote to self-deception. Truth also helps protect the public from undue manipulation and mind control by governments and their licensed agents and spinners anxious to sell smoke, hype and inaccuracies to a population seduced by adulation and trapped by credulity. We need social critics and activists who are willing to speak evidence-based truths to rulers and the ruled. Chidi Odikanlu’s take on this government’s anti-corruption campaign is important because it is precisely such an exercise. It is an exercise in fact-checking and evidence-based evaluation where hard reality is used to confront government’s posturings and verbalizations on corruption. His verdict? “Buhari’s Anti-corruption war (is) Partisan (and) Lacks Credibility”.
I would even add that the “anti-corruption war” is the child of political posturing which was used, along with two other sound bytes – Security and Employment, to appeal to a populace that had felt politically excluded by PDP misgovernance.
The entire contribution by Prof Chidi Odinkalu is worth reading. Clicking the link line takes you to it. It needs a lot of courage to speak up and out as Professor Odinkalu has done. Yet such voices of courage are needed since as more voices rise to speak truth to power and to chastise with love and civility those we have entrusted with ruling us for observed mismatches between their rhetoric and action, the more and firmer will grow the tree of accountability and responsible governance.
(I share my review of Chinua Achebe’s book – There was a country TWAC – a review I wrote so many years back.)
Chinua Achebe’s new book “There was a country, a personal history of Biafra” (TWAC, for short in the rest of this essay) has stirred up and continues to stir up considerable furore in Nigeria. Reactions to the book cover a broad spectrum of emotions – from over-enthusiastic reception at one end to outright rejection and even condemnation of the author and his book at the other. We are a nation with unique proneness for extreme positions on some matters. We often forget in the manifestation of this predilection for extreme positions, that truth is usually sober and flees such extremes in most cases.
My purpose in this essay is to attempt a review of this book as objectively as I can and in the process identify whatever utility the book possesses for Nigeria in its efforts to manage its challenged present and chart its future in the current haze of colossal national dysfunctions. Any effective charting of such a future must, in my view, depend on a proper understanding and acceptance of her troubled past.
Let me start by presenting the structure of the book. TWAC is in four unequal parts with a postscript (on the example of Nelson Mandela as an icon of leadership in Africa) and an appendix – Brigadier Banjo’s Broadcast to Mid-West. Achebe claims he is writing the book for the sake of the future of Nigeria, for our children and our grandchildren. Let me then attempt a synopsis of this book.
Part 1 recounts Achebe’s early days, his education from primary school days, his secondary school experience at Umuahia, his days at Ibadan, the beginning of his literary career and his meeting with Christie Achebe, his wife. Part 1 also examines the January 1966 coup, the army, the counter-coup, the reprisals, the pogrom, the worsening tensions, attempts at peace, the failed Aburi accord, ethnic tensions, and resentment. It ends with a sub-section titled “the nightmare begins”, where we learn of the creation of states by the Gowon led Federal Administration on the 27th May and the proclamation of Biafran Independence by Ojukwu on the 30th May, 1967. There is a lot of nostalgia for the good old days in some portions of part 1 and some of the sections here are teasingly brief and telegraphic, especially his meeting, courtship and marriage to Christie!
Part 2 deals with the Nigeria-Biafra war. It presents a fairly detailed account of the war, Achebe’s wartime activities and his role in the Biafran struggle. We also get to learn of his association with Chris Okigbo and the death of this great poet. Achebe’s narration of this death is so subdued. Part 2 also provides glimpses into life in Biafra, starvation, death, air raids, war casualties, Biafran ingenuity, the Ogbunigwe, the war efforts and theatres, the role of external parties in the conflict, the Uli airstrip, the airlift operations and a host of other details.
Part 3 narrates the economic starvation and blockade, the vicissitudes of the fighting and takes the reader through to the eventual collapse of Biafra. It also addresses the very sensitive issues concerning the use of hunger and starvation during the war and some economic decisions taken by the federal authorities both during the war and at its end. This is the part that has caused most offense in some quarters in Nigeria and also provoked a torrent of ethnic driven and emotive responses.
Part 4 looks at Nigeria in the present. The writer’s hopes and aspirations for a renewed Nigeria shine through. The prose in each of these parts is interspersed with his poems, two of the most haunting being Refugee mother and child and the vultures!
I am Igbo, lived through the war and may therefore not be in a good position to be neutral about TWAC. But I think that Achebe has written a fine book, a book in which he makes every effort to be factual to the point of adopting what I call a flat clinically detached narrative voice in much of parts 1 and 2! One of the strengths of TWAC is the detailed historical referencing and openness to a diversity of sources! The creative writer in Achebe cedes place in major portions of parts 1 and 2 to the cold and detached historian. This is not Achebe that we know, the animated storyteller who knows how to make words come alive, dance and sing with the same virtuosity one would ascribe to Obika in his Ogbazulu obodo role. Not only does he subdue personal voice in large portions of TWAC, Achebe also succeeds fairly well in managing any biases. For instance, he does not spare either Ojukwu or Gowon in his judgments, laying the blame for the conflict on the pride and personal jousts between these two colonels. For someone who served Biafra in such elevated and personal levels to achieve this level of objectivity in a personal war memoir is commendable
In much of TWAC, what we therefore see is the subdued artist surrendering his impulses to the discipline of facts and available evidence. So great is this surrender to the demands of objective historiography that the personal comments one expects are not delivered. Rather the writer presents the views of others even when these challenge the Biafran position! This historical disciplining appears to have been lost on the writers of some reviews who have tried to fault TWAC on grounds of faulty historical methods. One reviewer even went as far as accusing Achebe of Awophobia whilst another accused him of senility! Such ad hominems are useful to the extent that they provide us good glimpses of how serious minded some of our literary scholars and reviewers in Nigeria are! Incidentally, one also wonders whether some of these reviewers really read the book! I suspect some did not, given the timing and content of their reviews. But this suspicion does not in any way reduce my admiration for such gifted folks who can review a book without ever reading it! They are proof of the abundance of paranormal capacities in Nigeria!
Like I said earlier, the narrative tone is one that is controlled and clinical. Achebe’s voice however returns from p.222 through to part 4 of TWAC. With the return of voice, the book then comes more alive.
TWAC is inconvenient though useful as we grapple with nation building. It forces us to think of our past. To move into the future on firmer footing, the present must go back and catch up with our troubled past and learn from it. We cannot deny the reality of the pogrom. We cannot say that children did not die of hunger and starvation during the war. It is also unproductive to seek through convoluted sophistry to exonerate certain persons from the consequences of their actions or inactions. We need to confront our past, accept our mistakes and learn from them and move on. This is the inconvenient message of TWAC, its beauty and its social utility. Truth is bitter but it heals!
Incidentally, some of the issues in TWAC had already been touched upon in part in Achebe’s earlier works notably – “The Education of a British Protected child”, “Home and Exile” and “The Trouble with Nigeria” books which overflow with wit, sarcasm, erudition, intellectual energy and boldness! Yet the reception to these books was not as hostile as the one accorded TWAC. A discerning reader noting the focus and thrusts of the hostile reactions will easily know why!
But beyond providing a history of a piece of our troubled past, TWAC, especially pp39-61, represents an important contribution to African aesthetics. It therefore extends Achebe’s thinking presented in his books “Home and Exile” and “The Education of a British protected child” on the role of literature and the artist in reclaiming the past, understanding the present and building the future. I find the notion of beneficent fiction in TWAC (p57) to represent a useful African position on the role of literature and writers in social engagement! For Achebe, the writer must be engaged as a moral obligation and must not “ally oneself with power against the powerless” or run the risk of producing “elegantly tired fiction” TWAC p.59
But TWAC is not only about criticisms, social or literary. Achebe addresses current issues including corruption and Boko Haram. He laments our cult of mediocrity which he believes is at the base of our present malaise. He argues for checks and balances to reduce the decadence, corruption and debauchery of the past several decades (p252) He argues for a strengthening of democratic institutions and for free and fair elections and looks forward to the emergence of a leader humbled by the trust people place on him/her and who is willing to use “the power given him for the good of the people?” p253. Achebe has been prophetic in the past. I hope GEJ and JEGA are listening to him. The successes of Edo and Ondo already encourage and challenge.