Every six months there is usually a national upsurge of pain and sad feelings about widespread student failures in NECO, WAEC and JAMB examinations. This is despite the fact that many students in both public and private schools do involve themselves and their schools in massive examination malpractices. What is even more noticeable are the initial and sustained noises including strongly-worded editorials in our newspapers over a short period of time.But after a while things usually go quiet and nothing gets done to correct anything until the next set of woeful results re-appear. A painful cycle of educational arthritis one might say.
ARE WE REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT HEALING THE SYSTEM?
A discouraged Nigerian citizen might be forced to ask “Na today?” .And the natural reply will be “No no be today”. But can something be done about it? As educational administrators with almost 30 yrs experience we have silently done our bit over the years providing individual and group solutions to many of these spasms. In particular in the year 2006 when our country had one of the best Ministers of Education in person of Dr Mrs Ezekwesili we put up relevant letters/write-ups to her Ministry and related agencies under her purview. We also sent copies of these letters/write-ups to both houses of the National Assembly and all states’ Ministries of Education. Yes, we received encouraging acknowledgements/ replies from the Federal Ministry of Education and other six states but everything has remained largely the same till today. This eventually led to our decision to use the net for projecting to all stakeholders what we think needs to be done. But the basic and important question is “Should Our Educational System be having these painful spasms at all?.
QUESTIONABLE PAINS, HUH?
Going through all past and present National Policies on Education one would realize that our Government or at least those who drafted the documents have vision “par excellence” about education as an instrument for effecting national development. Nigeria is also blessed with thousands if not millions of specialists who definitely know what education is all about. Whether at Federal or states’ levels our country probably has one of the largest and well-trained educational professionals in the continent of Africa. The Nigerian society and its various communities and families hold definite views about the importance of education for a child and its resultant upward mobility in status which accompanies those children who are able to “overcome its many wahalas”. So one cannot but wonder why our educational progress has developed strange curves for students in both private and public schools!
THE AVERAGE NIGERIAN SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT OF TODAY
Today, many of our students hardly respect any educational system or institution as it used to be. Many of them don’t even want to hear that the education they get or imbibe may determine their future living standards. They treat schooling with disdain and mockery and hardly spend what can be called useful time in their classrooms. They hardly pay attention to tutors and don’t have good school notebooks. When given homework they copy each other very early in the morning before the first assembly or use available social media to get answers and workings to each other. Some don’t even bother to do assignments at all. And matters are worse in certain schools where students engage in school versus school gang wars and even threaten tutors who try to correct them. Such activities at secondary school levels naturally mature into cult activities in higher institution with devastating effects on some families. With a background like this especially in public schools and some school which pretend to be private schools why should anyone be surprised that the most acceptable format for taking national exams is the cheating mode like that of a video or computer game?
WAITING FOR GODOT OR MIRACLES?
It is therefore obvious that educational administrators in Nigeria whether at federal or states’ levels have lots of undigestive biscuits and nuts on their professional plates to contend with. By the attitude of certain administrators and tutors it is obvious they have put up their hands either in surrender or in supplication to almighty God for miracles! But thank God there are a few others who are striving to do their best in their allocated jobs or professional fields.
And those of us who have been involved in private education at secondary, adult, vocational or tertiary levels have not been left out of the painful spasms. We have interacted with students of private and public schools at state and federal levels and have observed a considerable and painful disinterestedness by these students. Some of them even label it as “stressful” education. But the real question is “can things be straightened out? Can a major turn-around be achieved? Can some cases of students which look irredeemable be brought back from the dead? Or should we just keep hoping that salvation will come out of the skies one of these days?
In our next write-up we shall publish past correspondence with educational authorities in Nigeria on this matter.Thereafter we will look more closely at the problems of the average Nigerian student before proposing what can be done to make things better.
Thank you and long live our Motherland Nigeria!