The Falling Standard Of Education In Nigeria

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The teaching profession in Nigeria, however socially valuable, does not attract a high social status. It’s the reason that  people ask teachers why they are in the teaching profession. Having taught teenagers myself and rose to the position of a head teacher, primary, some years back, a school desirous of a good reputation must have strong-willed school masters with character.

Pundits have blamed some principals and administrators for the poor reputation of their schools. They opine that if Heads of schools lack character and know very little, how might it be possible to train teachers and run schools efficiently? Character is of more importance to the running of schools and to schools than knowledge. Why is the standard of education in Nigeria falling to the level we have seen where we have witnessed capital take flight from our shores for people to school over-seas?

Are our training colleges fully equipped to train Nigerian teachers on the ethics and techniques of their profession? How is it that secondary teachers, even with diplomas in education, find it hard to teach primary children? Could it be because they weren’t taught or didn’t master the three “Rs” in education (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic), themselves?

Our education is largely one where we cram. But really, learning is not to cram but to solve, practice using one’s initiative and imagination. That’s what’s meant by education: to give children the ability to learn. Why are teachers only interested in teaching children to cram?

In my day, no-one would’ve dared come to school after 8am. School attendance, today, isn’t taken seriously. I still see housemaids doing chores up until 9am before they leave for school. What kind of learning goes on in schools where children come late and lark about outside school hours before school closes?

Observe the pupils and students who skip classes and report to school late, or wander around during school hours. They commit acts of aggression, lie, steal and are debauchees. In contrast, those who report to school on time, are well behaved, industrious, patient, never idle and are willing to learn.

The callousness of some parents towards the affairs of their charges is worrying. Most care nothing, know nothing and never work collaboratively with school managers to enhance learning in their children. All they care about is to settle accounts with the managers and class masters.

It is amazing to hear that after more than a decade of working in a government school, many teachers have never gone on a training or refresher course to hone their craft. Small wonder that teachers do not have time for the personal instruction of pupils.

Refresher courses might have exposed them to techniques on how to “deal with the formation of character, the teaching of precision and accuracy, habits of attention and order.”

Time there was when our girls sewed neatly and also knitted. Not anymore. They cram now. Our children’s education hasn’t moved beyond reading, writing. Good teachers today can’t stand by their principles in the face of wrong doing. The system will frustrate them to keep quiet. Grants to special schools catering for children with special needs can only be assessed once in six years. We have yet to reach the stage where we promote inclusive education in deed.

Maybe government needs to give grants to schools based on performance at public and internal examinations. On output not on input and population of school. Maybe medals need to be given to the most  disciplined and organized school.

School inspectors have a lot on their hands if standards of schools are to be upheld. Monitoring of schools must be done without notice, not to witch hunt but to make administrators and teachers realise that teaching is a noble profession that require smart minds.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a Teacher’s club where teachers can unwind. They should interact with colleagues away from the teaching space sometimes.

Government must improve the standing of teachers in Nigeria by paying salaries commensurate with other professionals.

If all educators are treated correctly teachers would be dedicated to the profession, their work-ethic would be first-rate, and our children would be guaranteed brighter futures. Every teacher must satisfy government’s requirements of a very high order. The profession isn’t for total turkeys. They must only get into the teaching profession with the required equipment provided by the government.

I should like to add that If teachers are more poorly paid than artisans, workers on oil platforms or other professionals whose jobs description do not require a tortuous mental strain, what hope is there of finding competent persons as teachers?

If soldiers are given medals for valour after efforts at war, then why not teachers who groom young men for the future? While I remember. We run the curriculum of other countries in Nigeria. How that helps us, I have yet to know. So our children bale dance. How that helps Nigeria I wouldn’t know.

— Abah wrote in from Port  Harcourt.

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