Parents all over Nigeria have continued to express worry over the declining standard of education. In this interview with Federationews2day, the founder Shafaudeen Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke speaks on the reason behind the current trend. Excerpts :
Are you comfortable with the declining standard of education in the country, presently ?
We have to clarify issues, curriculum wise, the standard is rising, but at the implementation level, because of the sharp practices , by the stakeholders at all levels, most especially on government part, the performances of students in various examinations, shows that there is a decline.
Institutionalizing education in any society, demands for some basic things to be on ground. At the primary school level, the construction of buildings, standard enough to accommodate students, well Trained Teachers, who periodically go for capacity building exercises, all these things are no more. Even when you have an oppurtunity for the Teachers, government officials make them look as if that they are been done a favour. And so, selectively, they will pick some of their favoured ones for the training, the training will be so shabby and shallow, and at the end of the day, the budget for such a training would be cut., to the extent that those who are to give the training, wiil receive a token, and the Teachers that go for training, they would also be given a token. And a great proportion of the largess would go to the government officials, who are supposed to reallly implement all these things. You can see the abysmal level to which corruption has gone in the society and has destroyed the fabric of all senses of responsibility in the polity. So, when you get to primary schools, what you find are features of dilapidated buildings, I mean public schools, students with wretched looks and torn clothes, because government itself knows that education at this level is not well funded. They will never allow their children to go to such schools, even their grand children. So, education at this level is rubbish. It is true that we should challenge the parents to contribute, but the kind of parents that have their children in all these public schools are the wretched types, who can hardly make ends meet. So what kind of contribution do you expect from such parents ? Except to say that their children should return home and hawk their goods for them. Sociologically, our management of education at this level is nothing to write home about.
Unfortunately, our government leads by propaganda. They will dress up very few schools, showing this over the Television and telling the whole world that they have funded education. At least, we can all attest to the fact that Teachers’ salaries are always pranked on. When Teachers are not well motivated, what do you expect from their performances. When parents, who have children in all these schools have little or very low education, what do you expect from such parents, regarding imparting, monitoring and motivating their children. So this is why we have a lot of mushroom schools, in the name of private schools, you will see some dilapidated buildings of a primary school and the name will bear someting, something international school. We are fooling ourselves. And until we really know wht we are doing, the future of our children is in jeopardy. Although government officials have a substitute, they have their own children, overseas and some selected schools that are well funded, that are very private, so that is why they are comfortable. But when Bola Ige was alive, he used to say something, that always terrified me. He said ” If those of you who are rich, find comfortable and very good schools for your children and you neglect the course of the future of the poverty ridden masses, when their children grow into thugs, these are people who will never allow, your overpampered, children to live well”. And this is what we are experiencing in the country today. If you neglect a section and you fund very few people, those few people, in future, they will not necessarily find it easy, beacuse the environment, we live in, matters most and contributes a lot to the quality of life we lead. So, when it comes to secondary schools, the same bad stories are repeated, most of the secondary schools, most especially, where they offer science subjects, they are nothing to write home about. Look at their laboratories, look at their workshops. All we have on paper, are the ideals of the curriculum, which is internationally recognized. Even Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities, nothing is been done. Entrepreneurship education is on paper, theoretically taught, most of them do not have centres as expected and where they have, what is the impact of their products ? Products, in terms of the graduates, they are turning out, as well as the products in terms of what they are really making, out of the entrepreneuship centres So, there is the need to overhaul education centres, as well as the way we manage and implement our programmes. UNESCO opines that 20% of the national budget of every nation, should be the minimum allocation to education. Nigeria, up till date, on the average, since 1990s, we’ve never been able to get 10% on the average. Even when there was no Boko Haram, when there was no war, the security vote was given so much recognition, and what did they do with such money, they lavished it, they spent the money on unprofitable ventures. So, I don’t know, we are now in an era of change, whereby Buhari our President, could be regarded as somebody that is very serious and who believes in reshaping the course of the future of Nigeria-economy, politics and security.
And Osinbajo happens to be an academic guru, a lawyer of high repute, a personality of high legal standing. And both of them a Muslim and a Christian now, if you look at this people, because of the passion, religion enforces on the people, the governed, I believe, they will be able to turn around. But education in Nigeria, today, is fraught with agitations by the concerned citizens in the name of ASUP, in the name of ASUU, there is need to overhaul everything, so that the future of Nigeria does not collapse today.
By overhauling, do you mean a state of Emergecy shoul be declared ?
It is not about collapsing the sector, if you collapse the education sector, everybody becomes an illiterate and before you say, you are awakening them, politcal campaigns will come again and you forget about everything. And the whole country will be in jeopardy.