DECAY IN EDUCATION: WHY DO WE DECEIVE OURSELVES?

For people in education industry, the decay in education will be with us for a while because we know that the effort made by all parties to salvage the situation are very unco-ordinated to say the least. Indeed many things are being done by the government but the often look like groping in the dark rather than pragmatic approaches to solving identified problems. There are many questions that people are asking and so many the government is asking. The problem is that no one appears to know who they are expecting answers from. i am writing this to see if I could raise a few of those questions in the home that you will comment and in the hope that someone of importance would read this or use it.
First, I will look at three tiers of our educational system and ask a couple of questions.
NURSERY AND PRIMARY
This is the place where any genuine effort to change things should begin. I cannot understand why this is so difficult to understand. The failure rate in SSCE, the examination malpractice challenge and the poor performance at UTME can all be rooted out from here. Why does the minister not understand that there is nothing she can do from the top that will exceed a temporary reprieve? Countries who have done well, including South Africa, pay very special attention to education at this level. This is the level where we shape the path of the children away from drug use and fraud. This is where we build the dignity and patriotism in the children. China realized this and many successive governments took children away from their parents at this stage for state training. Whereas I detest what they turn the children to, it goes to prove that lasting change can come from giving sufficient attention to the children at this level.
But quite contrarily, what we find is a situation where the government cannot quite decide if the primary school teacher should be under the local governments or directly under the Federal Government. Teachers at this level are the dreg of the earth and are paid too little to ignite any patriotism in them. Most of them have alternative sources of income as political wrangling among heavyweights can delay their salaries up to a month or more. Private schools are owned and operated by the same people who should be making the public schools attractive. We are gradually telling the serious-minded parents in our country that if they want primary education that endures, they should attend private schools. The world is fully computerized. How will the millions of pupils in government schools ever learn like other places if the government does not choose to make things happen. Oshiomole and Fashola have shown us that they can do something if they choose. The big question I have is, when will a Nigerian man or woman, trained as a teacher be proud to be a primary school teacher? When will the primary school be taught by qualified and enviably paid professionals?
SECONDARY
This is the segment that has most been affected by government policy flirting. Yet, none of these policies ever failed. We failed constantly in the way we applied the policies in schools and how we applied ourselves to the policies. This level of education is perhaps the heavies plagued with cheating because it provides the pre-requisite requirements for university education. This is what has spawned ‘special centre’ that have nothing special about them other than centre where we can cheat with impunity. The psyche of the children at this level is being damaged by the decay the society permits them. Malpractices is condoned by the society and by the parents who should have been the last line of defence. Everything is working to tell them that the things that matter are money, sex, violence, and alcohol. We teach them that ‘grammar no be success’ not because we want to point them to vocational training. We teach them that everything can be manipulated and then we send them to the poorly remunerated teachers (many of whom are not themselves trained teachers) and tell them to make the impossible happen. and then we tell them that their promotion is based on how well they re-mould finished products. What is wrong with us? The schools have no libraries, the pupils share desks in overflowing classrooms and ratio of teacher to student in English Language is one (who may be an untrained NYSC member) to between sixty and a hundred. The same teachers who are over-loaded teaching English language also teach Literature-in-English (or other subjects if they are NCE graduates with two teaching subjects). Most of their governments have flatly refused to pay the minimum wage. So the government through SUBEB starts to re-train teachers. But a few at a time who are supposed to go back and teach others (who has ever seen that happen). Go to the workshop venues and see the havoc that ministry officials cause because of the business part of the effort. Many of the trainees are not even teachers but just fronts so that some officials can collect the training allowances. I have seen very dedicated teachers who ask during training, ‘if the government wants to find out what is holding us back, why are they asking everyone else but us?’
So I ask, is it impossible for government to budget 26% for education knowing that more than half the problems that are grappling with (unemployment, poor quality school leavers, unemployable graduates, crime, substance and alcohol abuses) can drastically reduce with time.
TERTIARY EDUCATION
This level is full of insincerity and deceit. This is the levels where you are not quite sure if NUC and other such bodies run the show or Senate and House Committees on Education. For instance, University of Abuja hit the headlines and there was so much flurry and the VC was laid out in the sun to dry. Questions are, where were the education minister and the minister of state for education? Where was NUC? Where was the FCT minister? How could the place decay right under their noses and they have the effrontery to blame someone else? Oh ok, they want to pretend. Let’s tag along and ask these questions as we go. We do not of course expect answers or sincere answers from the polished empty talk of people who say they are in charge. Why do we underfund our education only to send our children to Ghana, South Africa, UK, USA. Botswana, and more recently to Malaysia. I often wonder if the Malaysian army are schooling or picking cotton and coffee leaves! Why do we pretend that lecturers runs the schools when the cults actually do? Why do we feel no shame when a university cannot boast a multi-media projector and PA system in 1500-seater lecture rooms? Why do we act like we do not know that students (in Federal Universities that have hostels) live 10-15 in rooms meant for three? Why do we pretend not to know that the books we bring here as bought are actually discarded books in Europe. Isn’t that the same thing the fuel subsidy ‘thieves’ did? Why do we pretend that students have access to the Internet for researches? Why do we hide the fact that the government policy makers have no interest in researches carried out by students and staff? Why do we act like we do not know that the admission process in tertiary institutions is a huge supermarket? Why do we complain that lecturers do not have Ph. D without finding out where the Ph. D holders go when they complete their courses. Why do we complain about a certificate-crazed society yet we have no places for people who are competent but who have second class lower or third class. Why do we say we want to build technical education but keep the HND holder firmly beneath the graduate of anything in the pecking order. Why is ICPC roaming the campuses with EFCC looking for cheap prey when they have not distinguished themselves with cases they have been trying since 2003? And why am I asking these questions when I will not get answers.
There are of course people who understand what is holding us down better than I do. There are states and local government who have given attention to education. However, I continue to insist that whatever we do at any higher level is a short time option. Our full option lies in beginning the reformation at the primary and early secondary levels. Once the teacher becomes proud of his job and is able to eat a month from one month’s pay, his attitude will change and so will education.

2 Comments

  1. Ajala Ayotunde O. said,

    You have realy said it all. All the questions you raised need urgent answers. But from who? We are all blameable for our present predicament and we know who should answer which of the questions. Parents, teachers, government officals, politicians etc are all contributory to the problems of educatiin in this country. All i can say is, instead of continuing in this blame-game, why not find a way of proferring solution to this problem before it is too late? The fact, as you rightly pointed out is that people that matter, who can make things work will NEVER read this type of write-up. Even if they do, they either pretend as if they didn’t see it or put up a flimsy defence of the government. We are surronded by hypocrites. Nobody is ready to embrace the truth anymore. Truth has no market while deceit thrives. Only God Himself can bring about solution to the educational quagmire we find ourselves. And that is just one aspect of our myriads of problems. We can only pray and hope that God intervenes fast.

  2. swagslord1 said,

    am greatly inspired by ur write ups…you have done a great job in pointing out these problems

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