Nigerian Government and Incoherent Education Policy: What Way? By MOHAMMED Aliyu Baba
Education is according to English dictionary the process or art of imparting knowledge, skill and judgement. It is the facts, skills and ideas that have been learned, either formally or informally.
In a very simple term, education is the process of guiding a learner to know what is unknown and explore what is needed for better understanding of life and the society.
Meanwhile, an education system has to do with economic, political, and social factors that constitute (specifically) public schools at various levels of the government; federal, state or local government. These factors are given by Top Hat to include public funding, school facilities, staffing, compensation, employee benefits, teaching resources and lots more.
So basically, the education system goes by everything invested into public schools for effective teaching by the teachers and easy learning by the students/learners. These investments can be human and material resources.
The significance of education to every society can never be overstated for the development of a nation. Because through it, the society gains stability, equality, financial security, self-dependency, actualization of goals, confidence, economic growth (through learning and researching about the new innovations) and embellishing the human/nation’s sovereignty. But sadly, the system through which education is generally operating in Nigeria is totally heartbreaking.
Despite the government’s enticing promises and significant policies, the proper implementation of those policies is still discouraging and counterproductive. All promises and seasonal policies by governments (especially at the state and local levels) never fully see the light of the day. The numerous approaches delved into since 1960 are still displeasing almost sixty years after. This is contrary to the record of the education system before 1960.
During the British presence in Nigeria, the education system is said to be styled based on the British cognitive arrangements; i.e 6-5-2: six years of primary education, five years of secondary education and two years of higher-level. Interestingly, the system recorded a huge success before the calamity started striking after some changes were made around 1983 when the system was updated to 6-3-3-4 (six years in primary, three years in junior secondary, three years senior secondary and four years in higher institution). According to the educational report by Iyabo Lawal, this is said to be similar to the American system.
The system was reported to be the genesis of the development and adoption of the first National Policy on Education in Nigeria. The adoption of Universal Primary Education (UPE) that granted free education at primary level added little/no impact on the system as nothing tangible was done to make education compulsory for all the categories of children in Nigeria. This is the reason the policies always ended up with failure.
For any (educational) project or contract awarded; and policies put in place, there is dire need for serious monitoring and evaluation. There should be follow up for every single move/action that is geared toward improving the basic education system. But in many cases, the government would award a contract for building or revamping of school structures, enact policies to improve the system, but without an iota of scrutiny. In the end, embezzling of the funds by the private individuals would leave the situation worsening. Indeed, there is no way the introduction of a new policy can be effective using the old mentality.
The launching of yet another educational policy in 1999 at the federal level by Obasanjo’s administration named “Universal Basic Education (UBE)” was gearing toward minimization of illiteracy to the barest minimum by 2015, addressing the issue of out-of-school children and to also providing easy access to education for all categories of children. The federal government also engaged the states in the policy through the establishment of “State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) across the 36 states; but still, the enforcement of the policy was nothing to write home about.
The unorganized nature of LEAs, the dilapidated school structures, the weak-kneed diligence of the teachers; their poor quality delivery as a result of total absence of motivation could tell everything in disgusting.
The school infrastructures are out of shape. The teachers who are the pilot and pivot of the system are not comfortable and are completely unhappy as the system only subjects them to rigorous tasks without paying them what is due for their sweat. In most cases, it even takes the grace of God before they could even receive the very little they earn. Teachers are always in the pool of hardships as they constantly receive torture from the authorities by delaying the peanut they earn as salaries. The government and the stakeholders in the basic education system are totally inconsiderate and pay no attention to the plights of the teachers. No iota of motivation, and despite all these agonies they pass through, they still want them to do beyond their best in the face of despair. What a pity?
The current government in Kaduna State is a typical element that demonstrated the gruesome hopelessness in the system. The state in 2018 recruited what it termed: “competent teachers” for primary schools across the 23 local government areas in the state. The recruitment was characterized by a lot of mind boggling promises of better welfare to attract the best hands into the system. But almost three years later, the promises still remain a dream-up in the minds of the recruited teachers: the 35% salary increment, accommodation (two bedroom flat for each teacher) and motorcycle for teachers posted into rural areas. Disappointedly, none of these promises has come to pass.
Worst come to worst when it recently revised the #30,000 minimum wage it purportedly started paying sometimes in 2019. The phenomenon that has successfully shattered the morale of the (not long) recruited primary school teachers in the state.
“The Kaduna State government has deceived me. It has messed up my plans and hope. I’m in total disappointment right now. I could’ve remained in the private school where I left with the hope of better welfare. I got more motivated there than what I’m having here at the moment.”
Above is a teacher’s response during a chat with this writer in Kaduna. Sadly, the information gathered from respondents in sampled states across the six geopolitical zones in the country showed that the worst is happening in almost all the states in the country especially on the welfare of teachers:
“Seriously, it’s very bad. Nothing is moving educationally and no sign of improvement in view. This is June and we’ve not received the salaries of April and May. Very sad situation. It’s only God that would take control of the bad state of the education system in this country.” Abdulkadir Yusuf, Niger State.
“The infrastructures are too bad and the teachers’ welfare aren’t nice either.” A respondent from Kano state who preferred anonymity.
Other responses from the sampled states like Kogi, Bauch, Borno, Zamfara, Sokoto, Imo, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Edo, Oyo, Lagos and Ogun have nothing serious in contrary to what we see above from Kaduna, Kano and Niger states. Except in Borno state where governor Zulum is reportedly doing everything possible to restore the sanity into the system for the disaster caused by Boko Haram insurgency. He’s executing capital projects that also embedded the teachers welfare. In some cases also, Kaduna and Lagos states received commendations and accolades from the respondents compared to their states. They advised the government to see the basic education system in her implementations as a tender stage that needs special attention.
Unarguably, no educational policy could see the light of the day if its administrators are having hard times with their means of livelihood. No employee can offer the best service in the absence of motivation. Nobody can render the best where the worst is offered. To clear the air, the basic education system in Nigeria does not need any further policy formulation. Rather, the holistic implementation and enforcement of the existing policies to be workable is what is direly needed.
To this end, governments at all levels must live up to their educational responsibilities in improving the qualitative and quantitative goals of the basic education system in Nigeria. The numerous educational policies specially the 6-3-3-4 and the subsequent 9-3-4 systems must be put into practical realities of implementation devoid of corruption, poor delivery and lack of sincerity. Also, to reposition the system in line with the present realities, there must be regular review in the provisions for teachers’ welfarism because if teachers are left with hunger; the best thing a hungry man can render is anger, and anger is a threat to teaching and learning environment especially at this elementary level.
“The government should ensure that their teachers’ welfare and infrastructural facilities are given top priority as to make them cheerful and diligent in the implementation of basic education policies.” The beautiful recommendation from the International Journal of Advanced Education and Research.
A reminder that the elementary stage of education is the bedrock of other stages, hence, very critical. Once this foundation is shaky, the chances of producing half-baked graduates by other stages is very high.
Many respondents however focused more on the welfare of teachers because it is an obvious knowledge that motivated personnel can mend bad policies, while unmotivated personnel can bend good policies.
Therefore, the best time for the government at all levels to see and take education (generally) as a number one priority is now.
MOHAMMED Aliyu Baba is a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He writes from Ikara in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org