The Kaduna State governor’s decision to sack over 20.000 teachers has been making the rounds. He took the unprecedented decision following the discovery of the very poor knowledge state of the teachers.
In the Observatory opinion he has taken the right decision.
Truth is the overall state of education in Nigeria is parlous. Decrepit infrastructure. Unqualified and poorly motivated teachers. Haphazard syllabus system. A quota system that’s counter productive. Gross corruption. Etc. It is therefore a miracle when once in a while our schools still produce students of excellent quality; it’s almost certain that the results are hardly because the schools offer enough; it’s often the students make the extra effort to do well.
The malaise is more obvious in the government schools that are so poorly equipped and managed. We once visited a secondary school in Lekki and were too stunned to believe any profitable importation of knowledge could go on there. Falling roofs. Broken down chairs and tables. No doors. No windows. No library. No playground. No power. No nothing. We spoke to the head teacher and his colleagues and they were very unhappy and unmotivated. I listened to the children and all of them were blabbing away in Yoruba. The teachers admitted they literacy level in English was below par.
And yet there was a time schools in Nigeria were A grade. Many of us didn’t attend private schools. We attended mission schools co-managed by the government. We were not privileged. Many of my mates didn’t even have shoes in St. Luke’s Ibadan; their parents were too poor to afford them. But by Jove the education was good. We all ended up in Government Colleges, Loyola, Compro, Ibadan Grammar School, etc.
Over the years, bad policies, corruption etc began to rob our schools of value. And it’s still happening. And it’s all the way up. I interview graduates and even a few with Doctorates and I marvel. Poor grammar. Worse reasoning.
Private schools have tried to bridge the gap and offer some excellence. But they are few, and hideously expensive. Indeed there is now such a proliferation of this category that standards are dropping but fees are climbing.
This government must devise a Marshall Plan for education. Indeed the worst admission of the failure is that from the President down, children of our leaders and private sector people and civil servants are schooling abroad: abroad here means from (even) Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana…to the UK, US, EUROPE etc; it is a national disgrace.
And yet if you consider a few countries that were under British rule like Nigeria, they have continued to get better in this area: Ghana, India, etc.
The government must sit down and critically analyze the situation. Why are we where we are? UI in terms of quality used to be at par with the University of London. These days no Uni from Nigeria makes the top 500 global list. The challenges are legion. But doing nothing about it guarantees the elongation of the failure. Starting something today will signal a renaissance, no matter how small. It’s no longer about annual budgets. ITS GOT TO BE A NATIONAL PLAN TO SALVAGE AND RESTORE THE GLORY.
CAN President Buhari BE BOLD ENOUGH TO TAKE UP THIS CHALLENGE?