(By Promise Ekejiuba and Dominic Saro-Laka)
“The era of negativism must be stopped. Corrupt and immoral teachers, school administrators, lecturers and their accomplices in crime should be prosecuted and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others. They perpetrate a heinous crime on the nation. This measure must be free of sacred cows if we seriously want our educational system to be transformed. If these negative and dehumanizing practices do not change within the next five years, the entire nation would enter the court of greater peril.”
ANY nation with a faulty, non-functional or sub-standard education system is not the best for its citizens and the nation itself. It is like a situation where the pendulum is not equal and thus neither the centre nor its components can operate in harmony for things to work well. We face a sad development, as the education system in our country, especially in the public sector, is nothing to write home about. The level of decay is at the worst level, given any honest comparative evaluation with what obtains in Asia or Europe.
Indeed, the level of decay in the system is an indictment on policy makers and those saddled with the task and responsibility of implementing policies in the education sector. Target beneficiaries of such policies, that is, the students or external candidates, as the case may be, are also to blame. Parents and guardians who encourage examination malpractices/fraud and teachers or lecturers who cultivate the seed of academic fraud and sexual harassment of their students share greatly in this blame for the poor standard in our educational system, which tends to portray our nation as a waste land or bedlam.
There is an urgent need for political will if the nation is to be rescued from this abysmal depth of decay and the global embarrassment it brings on our nation as well as the denigration of our corporate image and integrity. How do you explain a trend that depicts our secondary schools as no more than glorified nursery schools; and tertiary schools below the standard of secondary schools of the 1960s?
The actors at the implementation of our education system must be put on their toes. They must be ready to sip a fresh wine and perform their duties properly to achieve the desired results or leave the system instead of continuing with the charade which we end in its total destruction. Some of these actors (teachers or lecturers) have done enormous damage to our system due to their greed and ego. They craft the scripts to become overnight millionaires at the expense of our nation and the future of our children who are supposedly the leaders of tomorrow. Instead of being patriotic and appreciating the nation for offering them jobs, they abuse the system by entrenching and promoting academic fraud, immorality and other forms of unethical and despicable practices.
In all sincerity, our nation’s regulatory and monitoring agencies must urgently rise to the occasion in the discharge of their official duties in order to bail out our country from the current state of terrible mess. We no longer need the drama of having schools everywhere whose products are half baked. They pass through schools without acquiring the necessary knowledge the schools are expected to offer. Nigeria is ripe for structural measures and policies for enthronement of sustainable acquisition of quality education. One of the surest ways of achieving this positive target is to weed out those identified as rocking the boat of our educational progress and corporate integrity. We cannot afford receiving international insult because of a few whose only pre-occupation is to line their pockets and smile to the bank.
The poor standard of education in our land is a direct mockery of the huge annual budget voted annually for the sector. The money is not producing results and it should be of serious concern to the government, especially the Federal Government whose responsibility is to ensure that Nigerians derive qualitative values from the huge investment in the sector. We must henceforth treat government issues like our personal or family issues. No private investor would sit and watch yearly deployed capital turning out to be a waste without adopting measures to correct the situation. No individual will be happy to experience consistent waste and stagnation in his business or academic pursuit without promptly acting to correct the situation.
The only measure of the value of our educational system is the quality of its products. Education must be seen and developed as the best legacy to be bequeathed to any generation of leaders. The fact must be acknowledged that education is the only secured pivot on which the rapid and sustainable economy of any nation can be anchored. The best form of investment that can stimulate productivity for accelerated development is qualitative knowledge economy. It is the best legacy any parent or nation can offer her children or citizens. Frankly speaking, all other types of investments are subject to tear and wear, policy changes, change in government and fluctuating measures. However, the values of knowledge economy are stable and sustainable until human life itself ceases.
This explains why we must not toy with issue of education in our country. How do we call ourselves ‘the big brother of Africa’ or ‘the giant of Africa’ when, indeed, our corporate system is not working. Many sectors of our economy are non-functional and this must worry all patriotic Nigerians and spur our ideas to end this ugly trend.
The quest of revamping Nigeria’s education system is the collective duty of all Nigerians. It is a task that must be tenaciously pursued until the desired results are achieved. Heaping blames on religious leaders and bodies is faulty because their roles are limited if their efforts are not complemented by parents and guardians.
A survey by a dependable organisation on the yearly capital flight from Nigeria to Ghana for education services is frightening. The survey puts the amount at N54 billion yearly. There can be no greater pointer to the need for us to put our house in order. The attraction of Nigerians for desiring qualitative education in Ghana owes its origin to the pioneering efforts of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. These were largely modified and sustained by the legendary, Ft.-Lit. Jerry Rawlings.
The era of negativism must be stopped. Corrupt and immoral teachers, school administrators, lecturers and their accomplices in crime should be prosecuted and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others. They perpetrate a heinous crime on the nation. This measure must be free of sacred cows if we seriously want our educational system to be transformed. If these negative and dehumanizing practices do not change within the next five years, the entire nation would enter the court of greater peril.
Other countries boast of visionary and revolutionary leaders in the mould of late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, former President Bill Clinton of USA, and the incumbent Israeli Prime Minister, Hon. Benjamin Netanyahu, why is our own situation so markedly different? We can also name the likes of South Korean President, Ms. Park Geun-Hye; Brazil’s President, Mrs. Dilma Roussef; the people’s king of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the current transforming icon and President of Philippines, Hon. Benigno S. Aquino III as well as the former South African hero and President, Dr. Nelson Mandela.
It will not be out of place for us to quickly consult the all-time winner and democratic expert, Rawlings to show us how he made Ghana a functioning nation that it is today. Let’s pray God earnestly to give us the excellent leadership spirit of our neighbouring sister and current President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Mrs. Joyce Banda so that we can escape an impending season of doom.
Nigeria’s dominant environment of educational decay is largely accountable for the incidence in Africa where a child dies of malaria every 45 seconds. The situation is a complex and delicate one requiring strong commitment, speedy and change-driving actions. We should see how we could motivate the psyche of President Benigno S. Aquino III of Philippines and President Joyce Banda of Malawi so that they can leak to us the clues, which have enabled them to run workable systems.
Our survey shows that the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Council of Legal Education (CLE) are among the few exceptions of government agencies that have not caught the virus of deep slumber and ineptitude.
• Ambassador Ekejiuba lives in Port Harcourt while Dr. Saro-Laka is the African Coordinator of Freedom Fighters International.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”