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In my own thinking

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Change is a fact of life. It remains the reality which people agree is the only constant in life. It is therefore natural to expect that the school we attended some thirty or forty years ago would never be the same again today. As they say a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

Change is a fact of life. It remains the reality which people agree is the only constant in life. It is therefore natural to expect that the school we attended some thirty or forty years ago would never be the same again today. As they say a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

Today things and events change with the speed of light. When people reflect on the happenings sometimes it leaves a feeling of nostalgia of what it was before and now. Sometimes it is also one of despair and regrets depending of course on what it is that is been reviewed. Today the controversy rages on the fallen standard of education.
I was part of a post-graduate seminar in one of the Universities in the South South when I heard a professor stridently contesting the argument that standards have not fallen but improved. He predicated his argument on the number of first class degree holders the University was churning out each year in contrast to the previous years. He further argued that the students are now more knowledgeable because of the increased access to information through technology which provides them opportunity to widen their knowledge base. This no doubt is correct but those who canvass the opinion of fallen standards never take their minds off the quality of the graduates.
Today we have more graduates who can hardly communicate in simple basic grammar because of the undue emphasis on qualifications which place the certificates up for sale. People now go to school without school going through them. Sometimes after encountering a University product you will wonder if he actually saw the four walls of an institution and if anything called learning was passed through him. Our stinking system will be badly exposed if we are to exhume and review the scripts of some students in connection with their performance. Virtually all Universities will be guilty of this. The outcome will be alarming and we will have schools shut down if we mean to run a credible system of quality.
Recently the Kaduna state governor Malam El-Rufai sacked over twenty thousand teachers who could not pass primary four exams. This brought him on a collision course with labour who insisted otherwise. Labour instead is asking that the gap in the teachers be closed through training and upgrading their skills. This is not wrong either. The question then is how did this number of teachers gain access into the system? The clear indication one could glimpse from this fact is that there is no control process in the system to ensure quality. It raises a number of questions bothering on the role of those who recruit the teachers, and those who inspect their activities. Are there no set standards with clear criteria on who should be engaged bearing in mind the critical role of education as the bed rock of development.
In an interaction with some friends on the justification of the governor laying off the teachers some had argued that in the north educational requirements are watered down in order to encourage and due to availability or dearth of quality manpower. This argument for me does not hold water because as far as I am concerned if we sincerely mean to grow and develop ourselves there is nothing wrong in moving manpower from the area of surplus to area of need. Back in the days I can still recall that Nigeria had teachers from other countries especially India to improve staffing strength and quality. Many still hold the opinion that we began to experience lowered standards as soon as we asked the foreign teachers to leave because we felt we can now do it.
I want to insist that the El-Rufai experience is not restricted to Kaduna State or the north. If it is stretched further we would observe it cuts across the nation even in the states touted as the best in education. The factor of corruption is pervasive. There is no aspect of our socio-economic life at every level in the country that is not tainted with corruption. I put it all on selfish leadership. While those who should put things right are sending their children abroad for a better education they are still superintending over a decaying structure and yet pretending that all is well. In am yet to see that patriotic zeal among any Nigerian that yearn for real development beyond self. In truth patriotism is still a stranger in our land.
There is the need therefore for all other states to follow the El-Rufai example and for once begin to sincerely right the wrongs. It may be a hard decision but it is better to redeem the future of posterity now than never. We have squandered the fortune of future generation in many ways. We inflict serious injury on ourselves yet we cry who did this to us. The cultists and militants, the scammers, the prostitutes, the school drop outs, the street urchins, etc that abound in our society today are the products of our actions and decisions yesterday. We remain the architects of our own fortune and sadly we carry on as if we are immune from the effects of our actions.
As part of its reform agenda the federal government should take a cue from the Kaduna State governor to begin to sanitize the system if it is sincere with its change slogan. It is not for nothing that so many have been calling for a declaration of the state of emergency in the education sector. Primary education remains the foundation of education for any growing child. It is common knowledge that collapse is the result we get when the foundation of a building is poorly laid. A legal maxim goes: 'nemodat quad non habet' meaning you cannot give what you don't have. What do we expect from teachers that cannot pass primary 4 exams? They have nothing and will offer nothing.
It is easier now to understand what accounts for the poor performance of many students we expect to perform some magic at some levels. It is these same set of pupils that will progress through various levels to become our engineers, doctors, bankers, economists etc. The gravity of allowing unqualified teachers teach our kids can be likened to the case where we ask inexperienced bakers or cooks to produce our bread and food. Through their ignorance they can poison the food and this portends grave danger for the consumers. The discovery made by El-Rufai is also prevalent at other levels and may even be worse.
If El-Rufai actually mean to revamp the educational system in his state, that is fine, but he should be able to rejig the entire system but because there is an interconnection. He should be able to move to health as well as other sectors. That is one huge task. This is the same we are saying to the federal government and the corruption fight. Everything in the government is rotten and it stinks to high heaven. It is not only about loss of money. Placement of people in the areas or positions they are unqualified for is an aberration. There is the need therefore to pull out the less qualified people who are causing a drag in the system. For once I support Mallam El-Rufai and any other person out to right the wrongs.

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