Nigeria’s New Minister of Education….Reformer?


To say that the education system in Nigeria needs a total overhaul is to say that a newly born child needs milk….it’s a no brainer! I waited patiently to find out who the ‘intending-enigma-to-be’ was and there… he was announced….Mallam Adamu Adamu.

I have taken time to read up on him. I was glad to find out that many writers have done so too. Many have raised alarms about his very little background in the core education sector (alongside few qualifications to match) and how it would affect his decision taking and possibly his resolve to bring about the much needed ‘change’ in the sector. Many wonder whether being a journalist/columnist was enough expertise and exposure needed to steer the wheels of needed reforms within the sector. Will he be a reformer?

Read a snippet about his background. 

1. Mallam Adamu Adamu hails from Bauchi state.

2. He is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University where he read Accountancy

3. He is a writer and a renowned public analyst and columnist with Daily Trust

4. Mallam Adamu has been regularly referred to as a public commentator with a distinct style – fearless, educated and bold enough to express his views and opinions both locally and internationally.

5.He was a Personal Assistant to the late Solomon Lar, who was the pioneer National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and former Governor of Plateau state, on the platform of the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) during the Nigerian Second Republic.

My Thoughts

A survey of greatest education reformers which include: Horace Mann, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, John Dewey (father of Progressivism), Friedrich Froebel (the father of Kindergarten), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (father of Child study movement), Maria Montessori, to mention a few did not necessarily start their careers as core educators. What they had in common were clear visions, ideas, practical steps to achieving their goals that were vigorously void of inconsistencies and a dedicated team of individuals consisting of researchers and teachers. These are what Mallam Adamu Adamu needs. Can he build a strong team? Can he solidify and birth strong institutions? Will he empower researchers – those with indigenous and global best practices knowlegde in this journey?

What do we need? We do not just need education reforms but systemic ones. While education reforms often target specific elements or components of an education system—such as what students learn or how teachers teach—systemic reforms are:

  • reforms that impact multiple levels of the education system, such as elementary, secondary, and higher school programs.
  • reforms that aspire to make changes throughout a defined system, such as local government-wide or statewide reforms
  • reforms that are intended to influence, in minor or significant ways, every student and staff member in school or system
  • reforms that may vary widely in design and purpose, but that nevertheless reflect consistent educational philosophy aimed at achieving common objectives.

Like the teaching profession, education systems are, by nature, extremely complex and multifaceted, and the challenges entailed in reforming or improving them can be similarly complex and multifaceted. This is where our new Minister of Education’s dynamism will be tested. Even reforms that appear to be straightforward, simple, or easily achieved may, in practice, require complicated state-policy changes, union-contract negotiations, school-schedule modifications, or countless other conditions and actions.

While it is not possible to describe all the many ways in which reforms may be considered “systemic,” it is the most commonly applied to proposed reforms that are intended to achieve a specific goal or set of goals. For example, the goal of increasing secondary school graduation rates alongside having ‘zero school-unenrollment rate’ may have systemic implications. States or schools may have to present a reform package intended to address multiple factors that are peculiar to them….especially those contributing to undesirable school enrollment and graduation rates. These are only to mention a few out of the many issues affecting the nation’s education system…but this stands out because if and when every school-age child is in school…the options to leading successful lives considerably widens….and oh!…what effect it would have on our country’s growth and development…as we all know!

Will he be the long awaited reformer? We hope…we wait.

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  1. Well articulated write-up. Not being a professor or a core educationist doesn’t necessarily disqualify him. So, let’s hope he will be competent enough to turn things around in the education sector

  2. Thank you for this great lift off post.

    A reformer? Not yet.

    While I’d certainly agree with you on the notion that it doesn’t necessarily require an educationist to reform education, as it is in nearly all fields. I’m however not aware Adamu Adamu has a history of doing innovative things at his previous employ either as a PA or as an accountant. Like you said, to undergo reforms require a lot of systemic change amongst other things.

    One innovative move can accelerate things and change the educational landscape faster than a reform. With every reform comes its attendant proponents and antagonists. Yes! Antagonists – those who will ensure by their own machinations, these wave of reforms do not see the light of day, neither are they enjoyed by the intended segments. In Nigeria these antagonists are carefully referred to as vested interest.

    Consequently, we need someone with quick thinking, wit and one who’s not necessarily inclined to make politically correct statements. We need someone who can solve the old problems in the education system with a refreshing perspective and new models. Someone who’s daring to make a bold departure from the norm. The education standards have so fallen we don’t have another 4 years to experiment with…again! The problems are evident. Nearly all students at all levels are familiar and are quite well adjusted to them.

    Reforms take an incredibly long amount of time to gain a foothold and definitely requires a lot of political will across layers and layers of administrative bureaucracy. But an innovation whose time has come will rapidly gain mass appeal that cuts across. An innovation that truly borders on improving how we think and learn will gain public attention. An innovation that addresses why hundreds of thousands of students are denied the opportunity by JAMB to seamlessly gain admission in tertiary institutions like they did from Primary to Secondary school will have support widespread. An innovation that resolves how the government should build more schools to meet the growing population will cause a stir. An innovation that complements vocational education with scholastic in practical terms that do not make employers discriminate against the acquisition of valuable skill sets while favoring a heavily certificated workforce that does not translate to productivity will change many industries for good.

    Innovation can influence reform rapidly. Notice how the world bends itself to innovation. Simple example; notice how our Telecoms brands in Nigeria offer service packages that allow you access to messaging platforms like WhatsApp etc. via their network. The same reason Facebook acquired WhatsApp. The implications for not doing so is dire. Education in Nigeria should be SERIOUSLY likened to a product or service that requires the necessary machinery of business like marketing, distribution, strategic thinking, delivery, R&D, design, quality assurance etc. Not like some privilege a government hands out to sections of a country. In short, we need an innovator.

    After I post this, I’ll go on a deeper research on Adamu Adamu’s personality to look for patterns, attributes and values because I certainly know reformers are not made in a day. No ministerial, appointment and confirmation can make an individual a reformer overnight.

    Finally, to agree with you again, If he has a clear vision and can assemble a team of researchers, teachers, as well as other specialists and industry leaders, he may very well be on his way to making a mark. In my opinion, in a country like ours, its easier to find collaborations as an innovator than as a reformer.

    * P.S
    As soon as I find something remarkable about his past work life, I’ll head back here to share.

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