By: Abubakar Jimoh
Just as needle injects liquid content into the body, such is the way unbecoming political decisions and half-baked policies perforate into Nigerian educational sector.
The labour of our past political heroes who sacrificed and struggled in providing qualitative education to next generation, mostly especially common man, is presently coming to naught.
Today through implementations of wrong educational policies by our political leaders deliberately geared to satisfy their selfish economic interest, the educational sector is completely in shamble.
During the immediate past regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo in collaboration with his education minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, in their efforts to address the problem in public education, they decided to privatize the sector. Due to stiff opposition over the decision, the then government invited eminent personalities to a meeting to convince them on the necessity behind the privatization policy and by extension to influence followers. That emergency meeting culminated to the death of some of the personalities on their return journey, which include the former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Machido.
Since Nigerians rejected the policies, the government in response also turned its back to the educational sector. This led to the irregular payment of teachers’ salaries among other needs. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a series of strike hoping the government would response positively but, that proved avail.
The bastardization of the sector and constant strikes led, not only to the increase in the rate in school fees, but also accompanied by a large proliferation of private schools mostly owned by the political office holders, especially those desirous of privatization of education. This is to prove that if Nigerians failed to accept the policy, they would do so indirectly.
From this negative and sympathetic development, what standardization are we expecting in the educational sector when almost all our political leaders have private schools almost everywhere in the country with the best services offer to the children of financially buoyant families who could afford the bills?
The current mass failures recorded in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination conducted by West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) where about 80% of the candidates that sat for the examination could not come out with minimum of five credits since the year 2001 to date. The major cause of the failure, so far could be traced to the government negative response and lackadaisical attitudes towards public schools in the country. Majority of the successful candidates, about 20% were confirmed to be candidates of various private schools mostly owned by the political administrators.
It is from the same unjust policies that government after collecting fees from candidates for admission into unity schools, with over 10,000 students successful, aborted the admission process on the excuse that under an Act made under UBEC 2004 they cannot entertain new intakes.
Imagine a belated Act. Has government forgotten that the same Act mandates provision of free 9 years basic education to the children by the same government? Unfortunately, children are deprived of this right so far. This policy inconsistency would have negative consequences on the children, who, from all indication after being idle for months may likely repeat a whole year. What does the government expect these children attitude to be towards education after they might have wasted their efforts and time at home?
Most of the students in ill-funded public schools find it very difficult to provide answers to simple questions in WAEC examination and cannot communicate effectively after they finished from the schools. Since they are dunderheads, students at such public schools either look for leaked exam papers or pay huge expenses for special centres to write their exams.
It is high time government pay adequate attention to the education by providing realistic, effective and implementable policies to revive our educational sector from the present unfavourable and unfortunate development. The political administrators should abstain from bring in educational system unfavorable policies that could lead to the system downfall just for the standardization of their selfish private established schools.