By Fenny Fwa
I must state in unambiguous terms that Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna state is one of the boldest, courageous political leaders in the country. He possesses the political will to take the most earth moving decisions that most political Leaders shudder to take. Principal amongst them are the restructuring of governance that was too large thereby consuming government expenditures without much result. He therefore drastically reduced the number of political appointees and MDAS.
Similarly, he drastically reduced the number of District and village heads which were too many thereby becoming an unnecessary burden on the scarce resources of local governments funds. His bold decision to demolished illegal structures that had defaced Kaduna metropolis, distorted the master plan and were constituting health hazard and security concerns in terms of blocking of sewage system and making such areas inaccessible which could be hide out for criminals to commit heinous crimes. The acing of the cake was the bold decision to sack 22000 primary school teachers who couldn’t pass primary four exams.
This onerous decision was very bold and under normal circumstances should be applauded. Leaving these unqualified teachers to continue to teach our pupils will compound the already low quality of our standard of education. To be able to stem the tide of the decline in our education sector would require drastic and revolutionary steps like the one just taken by El Rufai. But is this step capable of resolving the decay In his state education sector? I don’t think so. It is a case of treating the symptoms of the disease and leaving its cause. The problem of education is systemic than rather isolated and as a very brilliant man who has been involved in public policy making for more than a decade, Rufai ought to know better. Several factors are responsible for this rot which could be gleaned in these perspectives.
The problem started from the training of the teachers. The colleges of Education where such teachers were trained lack requisite qualified teachers, equipment, instructional materials and total decay of infrastructural facilities. Rufai should visit these colleges of Education and inspect the facilities and even interview the teachers. He will be shocked at the level of decay and I advise that he takes the question papers to the teachers lecturers and a I bet that not all the teachers will pass the test.
There is also the recruitment of teachers as more often than not, most of the teachers are not recruited based on merit, but based on ethno religious considerations or nepotism. Some of the teachers are recruited with fake certificates with active connivance of the recruitment officers and top government officials.
Similarly what of the supervisors of the teachers whose offices were established for ensuring that teachers are assessed on regular basis in order to ensure that teachers impact the appropriate knowledge otherwise they are flushed out. To do justice to this malady, all those connected with this national embarrassment must go which are the lecturers that graduated these teachers, those that interviewed them for recruitment, the supervisors of teachers.
We must not forget the funding of education. The United Nations recommended that all nations should spend a minimum of 26% of their annual budgets on education. It’s confirmed that none of E9 and D8 countries spend not less than 20% of budget except NIgeria. The minister of Education recently said that since 1999 to date, budgetary allocation to Education ranges from 4% to 10%. The 2018 proposed budget of the federal government allocated only 7% of the total budget to Education. Ask yourself how much has been voted for retraining of teachers, how much has been voted for purchase of instructional materials, equipment and infrastructural facilities to make the environment conducive for learning thereby impacting positively on the teachers and the pupils.
One of the most disturbing aspect of this malady that had impacted negatively on education is lack of motivation which includes retraining of teachers, poor working conditions. Are teachers paid appropriate salaries? How can we talk about appropriate renumeration when the paltry sum being paid is not regular. Primary school teachers are being owed salaries all over the nation including EL Rufai’s state. How can a perpetually hungry man impact appropriate knowledge and even pass exams?
The mother of all problems bedeviling the education is inappropriate and inconsistent policies. One of such policies is the establishment of secondary schools indiscriminately. Yes the policy is to make secondary education accessible to all children, but do we have the qualified teachers to teach these students. The answer is no. As at today the secondary school established in the Headquarters of my chiefdom since 1980 is without mathematics, English teachers not to talk of science teachers . I had to,on part basis, employ the services of retired teachers to teach English and maths. Infact in the entire senior section, they are only 2 staff. This not to talk of other mushroom Day secondary schools who have only principal as the only staff. Inconsistency of policies has been our bane. We inherited a practical, productive result oriented system of education from the British colonialist where a pupil spent 7 years in primary school and before proceeding to secondary you must pass the common entrance exams. Failure means repeat or find you find other vocations. We had the secondary school branch of education , technical and the teaching branches. This was abolished and we opted for the America system known as 6-3-3- 4 system. The crafts schools and technical schools were abolished and painfully the teachers colleges were abolished which is the bane of lack of quality teachers today. There are Several inconsistent policies and their inappropriateness. If they are all to be mentioned, it’s unlikely that readers will have the patient to read this missive that is already long.
Suffice however to say here that Rufai’s remedy appropriate as it appears is too inhuman and scratches the problem that is much deeper and systemic . Because if we are to sack people for these infractions on our rot at the primary level of education, it means that everybody will go including El Rufai and even the president based on failure to appropriate adequate funds for eduction in view of UN standard that all tiers of government are to vote a minimum of 26% of the total budget to education and nobody is voting up to 10%. What of inappropriate policies?This incompetence permeates every nook and crannies of our life and despicable at leadership level. How many of our leaders have performed satisfactorily in terms executing result oriented policies on education. This malady is not restricted to education? What of our Engineers that construct houses that had collapsed or roads that don’t last long or our Medical doctors that terminated thousands of lives for incompetence? In fact in civilized climes, several Doctors would have been jailed and their licenses withdrawn.
Sending these hapless teachers to the already saturated labour market for a fault that is not wholly theirs, but shared by all of us is height of insensitivity and a disservice to humanity. In a typical African setting, these hapless teachers are not the only ones to be dispatched in the labour market. They have an average of 10 dependents which translates to stopping the source of livelihood of about 220,000! Note that these people may end up becoming criminals with its attendant negative effect on the larger society. I don’t want to be misunderstood that I’m condoning incompetence, but I wish to proffer solutions that will be not too severe to the victims and the society.
There could becrash programme to retrain these teachers and if they still fail, the Governor could go ahead and recruit new teachers but must ensure that the sacked teachers are promptly paid their entitlements to enable them use such funds for productive ventures, rather than becoming a burden to the society.
All tiers of government must find a holistic way to address poor funding, revert to old policy of education which include the reintroduction of teachers colleges.
We must address the issue of corruption because the negligible funds meant for education are either embezzled or substandard jobs are carried out. The corruption is further reinforced in recruitment exercise where merit is sacrificed at the alter of nepotism, ethnicity and religious considerations.
Deliberate and concerted efforts must be made to appoint personal that possess the requisite qualifications, experienced and competence to man critical educational outfits. I can’t understand how Adamu Adamu an accountant turned journalist could perform optimally as minister of Education! It’s really bizarre and a case of misplaced appointment. These absurdities which are prevalent in the education must be identified and rectified.
Finally there must be a holistic, comprehensive marshal plan for education that should be meticulously, painstakingly and transparently executed which will constitute short, medium and long term plan. This isolated, cosmetic, infantile approach of El Rufai is a case of treating the symptoms of the disease, rather than the cause( s) of the disease.
Credited to Fenny Fwa