What is your reaction to the declaration of state of emergency in the education sector in the country by National Economic Council?
To me, it was a welcome development because it is long overdue. We all know that our education sector needs surgical operation. Forget about what anybody might say that all is well in our educational sector, our education sector is nothing to write home about. Although there are some states that have good educational systems, the sector is still below standard. For the members of the National Economic Council to declare a state of emergency in our education sector, I strongly believe that they want the sector to meet the international standard .They are aware that some states are better in the area of education than others but they still believe that there should be a drastic change in the entire sector. From my own opinion, the National Economic Council has taken the right decision and they deserved a round of applause.
What actually are the problems of the education sector in Nigeria viz a viz the various levels?
There are many problems in our education sector. Like I said, I am happy that the government has declared a state of emergency at this moment from the primary to tertiary level. We all know that things are not normal in our education sector. If you go to 10 to 15 states around the country, you would agree with me that a lot of things have gone wrong in our education sector. Let us start from students or pupils in schools nowadays. There are schools that students are sitting on bare floor and receive lectures in an environment that is not conducive. This is sad commentary. Aside this, look at dilapidated schools all over the places, there are some schools that government just need to close them down but unfortunately these schools are getting more students. Some school owners see school as business so they run school the way they want and abandon the professional aspect of it. I observe that there are some school owners who employ secondary school leavers as teacher. What can we call this? Are we doing the right things or not? It is pity that parents and guardians enroll their children’s to these mushroom schools because their school fees are affordable to average income earners in Nigeria. The proliferation of these substandard or mushroom schools in Nigeria has negative effect on educational sectors. Most of the students who receive primary education under unqualified teachers would proceed to secondary school, when they get to secondary school, they would meet another problem because some teachers in secondary schools are not well qualified, those who are qualified are not well paid, and those who are qualified are not committed. Those untrained teachers are seriously causing problem in the educational sector. Let us come to tertiary institutions, what baffles me is the so called missionaries or churches that established institutions in Nigeria. You will agree with me that the churches build their institutions through tithe and offering of their church members unfortunately hardly can you see the members send their children to the institution because it is too expensive. Let me tell you without the good will of the people, no school can survive. What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t see education as being for the elite people alone rather to see it as being for all of us. Immediately people think education is for the class of people, they do everything to sabotage the effort of average people of Nigeria or even teachers who are teaching in these higher institutions being controlled by church because they too cannot send their children to the institution. Like I said earlier, I am happy that government has taken best decision by declaring state of emergency in education sector. Like I said earlier, there are some states that are dong better than others but the National Economic Council does not want few states to do better but every state so it has decided to declare state of emergency in education sector is a right decision in the best interest of Nigeria.
Who should be held responsible for this sorry state of our education?
Don’t let us blame anybody for the sorry state of our education. I would not say education standard has fallen. A long time ago, we have not considered education as anything important within our society, we don’t consider knowledgeable people for positions. Politics has taken over everything, we placed mediocrity to replace meritocracy. Mediocre are ruling, when I say mediocre are ruling, I stand by it because a situation where somebody who does not have more than First School Leaving Certificate is a lawmaker. Without being immodest, until those who are learned are made to rule and those who are ruling should go back to school to add to their knowledge, the world shall not settle. I mean things won’t be normal.
Do we really need private sector initiatives in the sector?
I can buy the idea of private initiative if it is good because it would help our educational sector. Don’t forget that we are all working for common goal. Our common goal is to see our educational sector meeting the international standard.
What do you think is the way forward to solving these problems?
After government has declared a state of emergency in education sector, what I expect from the government is to put its words into action. Firstly, I want the government to increase the funding to the sector from primary to tertiary levels. Secondly, let the government repair all the dilapidated schools to meet the global standard. Also, I want the government to legislate that only good schools should exist. The government should also legislate that only trained teachers are qualified to teach from primary to tertiary institutions. Finally, let the government call educational experts to work or possibly review our educational curriculum. Let me say this for the emphasis, if governments at all levels increase the funding to education, the better it is for our education. I always tell people that let us make education available to all so that we will have a better society.
We don’t need to blow grammar on this. I have said that the government should increase the funding of education from primary to tertiary institutions. Since we all agreed that education is falling, what do we do, government at all levels should not allow profiteering to take over school running. What do I mean by this? School jobs should not be in hands of those who want to make money rather they should allow professionals to run schools. To crown it, government should try as much as possible to reduce the school fees to an affordable level.