Last week, female academic researchers and authors, Adaoha Chibuzo Okwuosa, and Nonye Nnamezie, launched the biography of teacher, and first minister of Education, former Eastern Region, Reuben Ibekwe Uzoma.
The book is entitled, Onye Nkuzi: Teacher, Statesman, Icon of Education, A Historical Biography of Reuben Ibekwe Uzoma, and published by Safari Publishers.
In the 350 pages, seven chapters’ publication, the authors highlighted the neglect of teachers’ education, and the marginalised education opportunities between the rich and the poor, in contrast to the 50s, 60s and 70s when the first generation and today’s leaders attended school.
Okwuosa, daughter of the late R I Uzoma, observed that the country had taken to graduates who lacked the skill to impart knowledge in their attested field of study. This, she blamed on inadequate teachers’ training colleges in the country.
“There is a belief that once you have a degree in something, you can teach. That is not true. it doesn’t make one a teacher. A good teacher has the skill to convey knowledge, and possesses a special attitude to relate, and bond with the pupil he or she trains. It is after gaining this knowledge, then you acquire the necessary skill to be able to transfer that knowledge to others. That is what has been pushed to the background.”
Using her deceased parent as an illustration, Okwuosa emphasised R I Uzoma for a long time refused to take on a chieftaincy title because the nomenclature title of Onye Nkuzi (a teacher), got him enough respect and reverence from the people. “But, look at the situation of the teaching profession today it lacks that awe and respect.”
In addressing pressmen at the book launch, Okwuosa recommended government’s outsourcing of certain public education aspects to the private sector, which operates better education studies, while it regulates the private sector properly.
For co-author Nnamezie, writing the biography revealed the typical Nigerian childhood history; a history that education opportunities for children of the poor, as the R.I Uzoma, study scholarship shaping his future as a minister of education, eastern region of Nigeria.
Today, she says a marginalised system of education, where the elites solely, have access to such opportunities, while the poor in need of the opportunities lack access to them, reigns.
“I looked at what a Nigerian typical childhood was like, how Nigerians benefitted from scholarships, and how education was promoted at the time. But these things have changed overtime, things are no longer that way, and I find it painful,” said the History graduate and doctorate holder.
Thus, her aim for the text is “to promote the promotion of education in Nigeria, look at what it used to be in the past, and do something better.”
Addressing the root causes of the decay in Nigeria’s education system, Nnamezie suggested the incumbents’ re-appropriation of funds meant to sustain education to the erection of infrastructures that would satisfy their godfathers. “By the time the essential money to be taken up into education is being spent pleasing people, it becomes a problem, so, we have a sector lagging behind.”
Nnamezie emphasised the importance of the public’s education during the campaigning and election of leaders to scrutinise manifestoes.
Speaking of the writing processes for the biography, Nnamezie describes the book written in three years, a faster accomplishment in her estimation compared to another of her sole publication which took ten years to pen.
She did note however, that the hard job of writing is buttressed by the availability of archival pieces such as images and documents.
But Nigeria’s archival system, she noticed is rapidly diminishing.
“I have visited a lot of archives in the country, and I keep telling people that most of what we have in our archives were those things left by the colonial masters – just a few things carved out.” “So much that should go into the archives as pictures which speak reality, for instance are not there.”
“Pictures,” she continued, “are important, and should be in our archives, so that memories are renewed, and people through pictures will see that the things happened thWe way they are being stated.
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