President Muhammadu Buhari has asked countries in West Africa to refocus on the philosophy of education in order to produce people with critical minds.
He made the call while opening the 65thAnnual Council Meeting of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), in Abuja on Tuesday.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari wanted answers to what it meant to be educated in modern times.
“What does it mean to be educated, and what do examiners look for as measure of performance?’’ he asked.
The President noted that traditionally, the philosophy of education had focused on what should be taught.
He noted that in as much as it was crucial, it was far more important to focus on the methodology of teaching which would impact how we should examine, what questions to ask and what should be looked for in students.
He suggested that in dealing with what to teach, it was important to redefine what success meant.
Buhari observed that the acquisition of wealth and power or educational success was regarded as marks of success but noted that no one was concerned about the process or means of attaining success.
Accordingly, he said that the end justifies the means which explains why cheating in exams and fake certificates fail to generate the kind of outrage it would have generated many years ago.
The Present said cheating was done with the collusion of teachers and parents and reflected the failures of values in the societies.
He noted that wealthy public servants and many in the private sector get celebrated with high religious, chieftaincy and educational titles.
“Educational policy within that kind of milieu of collapsed values and leadership failure is a totally different type of task.
“When values in society have been up-turned, the role of the educator and policy maker is completely different.
“What we find is that we are almost pretending that values are still where they are because the way that we develop policy and teach assumes that values are still where they were perhaps 65 years ago.
“But that is not the case,’’ he added.
The President said it was the challenge of the new generation to set the moral and ethical standards to define the present time.
He said the standards should emphasise integrity, self-denial and hard work.
He said the people should break through the false notion that success came through miracles rather than hard work.
“Miracles are not necessarily a bad thing but where everything one acquires is by miracles then we should interrogate the process that you have acquired them’’, he said.
The president urged educators to ensure that what they were teaching could engender positive work ethic by ensuring proper planning and organisation.
“We must and cannot avoid teaching young people planning, organization, collaboration, team work and ethics,’’ he said adding that lack of such would render the education useless.
He criticized the philosophy of learning by Roth, that is cramming, noting that it excluded critical thinking, introspection and analysis.
Buhari advised that education must vigorously encourage curiosity adding that tools now existed for such types of pedagogy at all levels of learning.
He said technology and innovation had necessitated shift in learning.
According to him the examinations set should seek to produce the kinds of children that would be able to innovate and think.
He said emphasis should be on encouraging a thinking society and urged WAEC to be in the forefront.
He described WAEC as one of the truly iconic institutions in the West Africa, noting that there was no one in the event who had not been subjected to WAEC examination.
He said it was noteworthy that a sub-regional body which predated the independence of most of its members was still alive and relevant and growing from strength to strength.
According to the President every year one sees more people subscribing to WAEC exams and the examination body coping with the challenges.
He urged the examination body not to renege on standards. (NAN)