By Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar
Beginning with an anecdote, a teacher friend once told one that his junior colleague –an NCE holder who was posted to his class by school management to join him as class teacher, confided on him that he could not teach any subject even what he studied at the NCE level.
According to my friend he asked this colleague what miracles he performed to graduate and be certified as a “trained” teacher and even secured teaching job in a school where parents pay huge sums of money as term fees; and this fellow revealed to my friend that he did not undergo any interview process because the proprietor issued a “fiat” to the school management on the basis that he is a son to a “good friend” of the proprietor.
As to how he graduated from institution he told my friend that he got “assistances” at various levels from various quarters during the period of his program whatever “assistances” might mean in this context.
At this point, it is difficult to deny that the narration above is not a near-reflection of the current educational system in Nigeria either public or privately held, urban or rurally situated, from basic to tertiary level.
Anyone whose ‘right brain is dominant over the left’ cannot disagree that our educational system, to put it mildly is faulty. The faulty system from which this fellow under reference was made. A system that dangerously reserves admissions slots for highest bidders, friends and families; that, which is grown on mediocrity, corruption, connections and dirty culture of “who-knows-who” can only produce shallow-minded, low-skilled, noncreative, educated but not learned ill-equipped graduates and teachers like my friend’s colleague in the narration above.
Worthy of emphasis here, higher educational institutions are special temples which developed societies owe their development and progress, through provision of expertise, innovations, skills, knowledge transmission and culture of enterprise. It is however saddening that these institutions in Nigeria today have lowered the bar in recruitment process of students; and as well illogical that most of them (private and public) only compete and strive not in research, strategic partnerships and academic excellence but to attract large students enrollments as means for fat IGR from tuition fees, with less consideration for carrying capacities among others. It is a known fact that some private institutions’ Senate reject semester results under the guise of high failure rate and query their lecturers to avoid what they would term as ‘drop’ in students enrollments.
For the purpose of clarification, this ugly culture has its roots from our basic schools who have in recent years discarded the principle of demotion of students with poor academic performance. The primary and secondary schools which are the foundations upon which tertiary education is built have reduced to sites where pupils and students are automatically promoted to next class (es) regardless of their academic performance.
Nonetheless, while population explosion and inadequate teaching infrastructures over the years have led to the emergence and growth of private primary and secondary schools playing complementary roles, many of them do not repeat students on the basis of poor performance due to the exorbitant fees charged.
It is ridiculous and deceptive, the manner our private schools give academic excellence awards to almost all pupils and students in each class during their ritual speech and prize given day in efforts to please parents and guardians.
Moreover, a situation where a single teacher is compelled to teach many subjects can hardly bring out the best from him and thorough, sincere assessment of students might be difficult. It is why students would most likely flop in properly organized examinations outside the walls of their schools as seen in the recent 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination conducted by the JAMB.
Given these bleak realities, relevant government bodies must be above board, ensure practical full adherence to quality assurance mechanisms and monitoring of both public and private schools. Schools especially those privately held must introduce demotion in practical terms as punishment for poor academic performance; and update periodically, their quality assurance instruments in conformance with the current global standards. Private schools should resist overbearing dictations by parents who select the class they want their wards to start from and when to write final certificate examinations. The private tertiary institutions (not all though), also engage in this mess as well, when they give prospective students course(es) of choice even when such students’ scores in such institutions’-based entrance exams are below the threshold they set by the institutions themselves.
There is no doubt that private participation in our educational system should attract reasonable returns on investment but the private players in the system must know that educational institutions are ‘theatres’ that mould citizens for socio-industrial needs and life service.
Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar , a public commentator writes from Minna, Niger State and can be reached via email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily