In the last three decades, Nigerian government has systematically neglected the education sector. Presently, education sector can be considered to be near comatose. The sector suffers incessant strike actions from Academic Staff Union of University, Non-Academic Staff Union, Students Union and Labour Union. In recent times, the existing strike actions have been complimented by the emerged massive massacres of Nigerian students. This deplorable situation has reached a crescendo, demanding immediate intervention by the government and relevant stakeholders.
The Nigerian educational sector has become an open field harboring corrupt practices that rankles among players such as policy makers, bureaucrats in various educational ministries and school officials responsible for the school management, parents and students. The sector is marked by infrastructural decays, inefficient and poorly skilled teachers, and dilapidated school structures etc., fueled by general apathy by government to education.
The quality of education students received under this dreadful atmosphere is highly appalling. The standard dropped to the extent that the minimal score for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has drastically dropped to 180 as against 200 out of 400 total score in the years back. It is an open secret that students hire machineries to pass standard examinations in secondary schools. Invigilators are also not left out in this gruesome cesspool of corruption; as they are rumored to be paid to enable machineries write exams for students.
Also, some schools’ principals and teachers engage machineries improve their schools’ academic performance in the examinations. Affluent students go to the examination council/board to buy high grades.Some unscrupulous lecturers force students to buy hand-outs as criteria for passing their course. Administrative staff also compound issues for students by withholding students’ results to force their hands to bride or show appreciation to them before their results can be released. Unethical behavior in the school has forced female students into prostitution, as they use their bodies to lure lecturers for favors; while male students resort to cultism as a means of protection. Students pay bribe to be given admission to universities. This begs the question of the quality of Nigeria future leaders.
On regular basis, national and state governments cut down on educational funds making education appear unimportant to economic growth. For instance, UNESCO recommends 26% budgetary allocation to the education sector but in reality education sector receives less than 4% budgetary allocation in Nigeria and this varies from state to another. The troubling realization is that the government allocates more money to ex-militants than any other sector including education. This government apathy to education practically justified the reason for looting of the education funds. From all indications, inculcation of knowledge is no longer the primary focus for being an educator anymore
It is a wonder that the 130billion naira requested by ASUU from the Federal government is still under contention in the face of the country’s high cost of governance, which is said to be the highest in the world.
The recent face-off between the Academic Staff Union in both Federal and State Universities can be described as the toughest blow so far for Nigerian Students. For the past 92 days, (still counting) University students have been at home and school activities are disrupted.
The youths are the future leaders of tomorrow, if the educational system which should prepare the youths during their formative years for better future is reeking of corruption; there is need for concerted efforts towards sanitizing the system.
As the world marks World Teachers’ Day today it becomes pertinent for Nigerians to have a sober reflection on where we got it all wrong and put mechanisms in place to retrace our footsteps.
CISLAC therefore calls on Nigeria to join hands with other world bodies as Transparency International launches Global Corruption Report: Education, to put our house in order and safeguard the lives of our future leaders.
CISLAC further calls on the Federal and State Government to immediately resolve the impasse between it and Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU by honouring the agreement reached between it and the Union since 2009.
CISLAC believes that if the government can stop wastage and duplication, the 100bn annual requests by ASUU should not be a burden to a government that claims to have interest in improving educational standard in the country. Pre-emptive measures should be taken to tackle futuristic industrial actions. Our young people should not be subjected to needless long term idleness.
CISLAC also calls on the Federal and State Governments to exhibit some element of professionalism in the establishment and registration of schools at the basic and secondary levels. Proprietors of private schools should be those that studied Education courses in the tertiary institutions. Their certificates/professional registration certificates with the proposed TCN should be a major criterion.
CISLAC further calls on the Federal Government to take adequate steps to establish a National Commission for Secondary Education (NCSE), as Secondary Education component of our education system remains the only component without a Commission. This Commission will perform, in the secondary education system, similar functions the National Universities Commission (NUC) is performing as quality assurance agency on the Universities.
CISLAC also calls for policy change in the management of the Federal Unity Colleges (FUCs). Their management should be removed from the Basic and Secondary Education Department of the FME and put under the proposed NCSE. It has been found out that most of the shortcomings noticed with the FUCs are traceable to the FME. The appointment of their Principals should be tenured and teachers in a particular College should be made to partake in the process that will produce the Principal from among themselves through voting.There is the need to bridge the infrastructural gap between the FUCs and state government schools in the country. While it is agreed that FUCs are models for secondary education, state secondary schools should be modeled close to the FUCs in terms of infrastructure and equipment
CISLAC also demands that the Federal Inspectorate Service (FIS) be demerged fromthe Federal Ministry of Education and brought under the proposed National Commission for Secondary Education. Furthermore, the Teachers Registration Council (TRC) should be delinked completely from the Federal Ministry of Education, (FME). It is an anomaly that a professional body is a parastatal of a Ministry. The body should be autonomous of government if it must truly protect the integrity of teaching as a profession.
CISLAC demands better accountability on the part of school administrators, parents and student. Disciplinary measures must be taken to curb the rising nature the impunity in the school system.
CISLAC calls on students to eschew violence and uphold peace for a better tomorrow.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)