The Federal Government has directed the new National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC) to take urgent steps to reposition the senior secondary level of education for effective implementation of the 6-3-3-4 education system in Nigeria.
The 6-3-3-4 system provided for disarticulation of Senior Secondary Education from Junior Secondary Education. But while the Junior Secondary component is classified under Basic Education and enjoys regulatory oversight and intervention from Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Senior Secondary level had no regulatory body.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, speaking at the inauguration of the Governing Board of the National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC) on Thursday, in Abuja, said the scope of NSSEC “is now restricted to the senior secondary level taking cognisance of the existence of UBEC which regulates the junior secondary level.”
Adamu noted that the National Secondary Education Commission Act 47 of 1999 CAP. N. 73, LFN 2004 was enacted to oversee the affairs of secondary schools in Nigeria, adding that the Commission was restored in 2019 and it commenced operations with the appointment of the Executive Secretary in June 2021.
He charged the Commission to reposition Senior Secondary Education in the country, saying the Commission is saddled with the responsibilities of prescribing the National Minimum Standard, promoting and regulating senior secondary education both in public and private schools as well as providing financial intervention for states.
He described it as an unacceptable condition where students are still forced to learn under trees because of inadequate classrooms among other challenges faced in some primary and secondary schools across the country.
Adamu said: “It is on your able shoulders that the efforts of the government to improve the quality of output of this all-important Commission and the secondary education sub-sector lie for the next four years.
“We are confident that you will bring your wealth of experience, adherence to, and respect for, the rule of law and due process in the discharge of your responsibilities. It is also our expectation that you will ensure efficient management, growth and development of the Commission.
“The Governing Board should at all times be abreast of, and abide by, current Laws, government policies, government white papers, circulars, gazettes, and other relevant documents that will help in making qualitative decisions.
“Effective guidance and oversight on broad policy issues, adopting best practices, monitoring institutional projects and getting funding outside government to improve the facilities and infrastructure in this commission shall be the hallmark of an outstanding board,” he said.
Chairman of NSSEC Governing Board, Dr Nimota Akanbi, in her acceptance speech, expressed the commitment of members of the Board to contribute their quota to the development of Senior Secondary Education in Nigeria.
She noted that the Commission is charged with the mandate of setting standards to ensure effective teaching and learning at the Senior Secondary School level of the 6-3-3-4 education system among others.
“The 6-3-3-4 system of education which was introduced to replace the 6-5-4 system was designed to inject functionality into the Nigerian school system.
“It is a known fact that governments at all levels have been confronted with a lot of challenges in the education sector, especially in the areas of funding, school supervision, getting qualified teachers, among others. It is my sincere belief that members of this Commission are round pegs in round holes who have all it takes to formulate policies for and supervise Senior Secondary Education in the country.
“As earlier said the task before us is a very daunting one but not insurmountable,” she said.
Executive Secretary of NSSEC, Dr Benjamin Abakpa, said the laws guiding the operation of the Commission were obsolete and that on the assumption of office, he and his team have expedited the process of amending the NSEC Act 1999 to align with current realities given critical gaps observed in the Act.
“Currently, we have concluded the drafting processes with the Office of the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice (OHAGF/MJ) and have obtained the Federal Executive Council approval for submission to Mr President for onward transmission to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill,” he said.