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Education

Teachers teaching nonsense, other problems in Nigerian secondary schools

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The poor state of education in Nigeria should be one of the things that should be keeping us awake in the night as Nigerians.

While it is the decay within the universities that often attracts attentions, the problems, perhaps in bigger proportions- exist in the secondary school systems.

Anyone that went to state schools in Nigeria from the 90s till now, would have experienced some of the issues discussed in this reflection: Students are now being asked to come to schools with their own chairs and tables, parents are responsible for buying chalks and teaching materials, in some cases, parents often contribute money to hire teachers for the school- these teachers are usually paid at lower rates compared to their colleagues who were employed by the government- there are other worrying issues of dilapidated buildings, roofs that could not protect students from the elements of weather etc. and incessant strike actions by school teachers.

The poor working conditions often make some of the teachers to device alternative ways of surviving, some of the teachers have had to add extra jobs, and some become so demotivated that they hardly pay any serious attention to the demands of their jobs.

Yet, lives of millions of children are entrusted to them. This piece is not to bash teachers, but to explore some of the problems that we have with quality of teaching in our schools.

Most of the schools are ill equipped- I once taught in a school in one of the oil producing states in Nigeria while I was on the NYSC [National service], the school was poorly equipped- it lacked basic infrastructures- the only room with a framed window and door was the principal’s office, there were no laboratories, the students had no chance of taking any science practical sessions in the three years of their senior secondary school- yet these students were expected to sit a test of practical knowledge in the subjects- and these are very key subjects such as chemistry, physics, and biology…

This is the stage in the life of the students, where opportunities for greater attainment in life are being taken away from them- especially from the children of the poor. The children of the rich could be enlisted in private schools, their parents could afford all the international school franchises that are springing up in Nigeria, and other good schools overseas, while most children of the poor are trapped within the mess caused by the criminal leadership in the county- the politicians who steal from the wealth of the countries ferry their children abroad.

I have my own first-hand account of the damage that the education system of the country could do…. It took me more than 4 years to redeem my life after suffering the most damaging educational failure of my life (I have taken personal responsibilities for my own contributions to it)- but come to think of it, most of the blames went down to the quality of teaching I received in school.

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I was a ‘science student’ in high school. We never went pass the ‘periodic table’ at the end of my senior secondary school year 1 (SS1). My first chemistry teacher was hired and paid for by the Parent Association, the teacher left the school for better opportunities mid-way into the first year.

We never had a replacement until the end of year 2 (SS2), as the school often take the final year student as priority. Until the last weeks of SS3- the year we would sit the high school final exams, we never had any practical sessions in chemistry, no salt analysis, no titration etc… Similarly in other subjects, the school always kept the available subject teachers for the final year class, but most of the damage had been done in the previous 2 years…

The problem of course transcends issues of material and infrastructural inadequacies within schools, some of the problems have to do with teaching qualities, or I should say some of the problems have led to bad teaching qualities in our secondary schools.

I have been taught by some wonderful teachers who have enabled me to realise my life ambitions- most of them were working under the most precarious conditions I ever witnessed- some of the times they were being owed their wages by the government for more than 6 months at a stretch, and even when they were paid, it was pittance- they could barely survive on it.

However, there were cases of ‘bad’ teachers too, sometimes it was so obvious that the person standing in front of the class to teach had insufficient knowledge of the subjects… we have had NYSC teachers who studied Law and were made to teach English in secondary schools… and most of these NYSC teachers are product of the half-baked systems as well- so it was a perfect case of ‘rubbish-recycling’.

The garbage that some of them deposited in our heads took half a decade to be evacuated. Some of my class mates from the high school never recovered. None of my class mate made it to the university within 4years of leaving the secondary school… including myself. This piece offers some suggestions on how to combat some of the problems of poor teaching qualities in Nigerian schools.

FUNDING THE EDUCATION SYSTEMS: TOO LITTLE…. TOO LATE – All teachers in Nigeria (from primary to secondary) should be well paid, and they must be paid on time. Government should ring-fence some funds, with special budget protection for education- this money should not be kept where thieves in government would steal it…. All teachers deserve decent living- it was almost became a shameful thing to be a teacher in Nigeria, in the recent past, some property owners would not even agree to let their houses to teachers, because it was a well-known secret the government do not pay teachers enough, and they were never paid on time.

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Good remuneration would attract the brightest of the best into the teaching profession. This is what the private enterprise schools are doing well- in 2017, I met a young man on a flight from Amsterdam to Lagos, we were both connecting from the UK to Nigeria- we sat next to each other, and we got talking. The young man was a teacher in one of the international schools in Lagos, and his employer had sent him on a training/course at University of Surrey in the UK. We talked at length, and he told me a lot of good incentives that the school does to motivate the staff. And I would not be surprised to see the good quality students being produced from such schools, happy teachers will produce good students.

BAD TEACHERS WOULD PRODUCE BAD STUDENTS – We have had a crazy situation in Nigeria, where a large section of secondary school teachers that are preparing pupils for exams which are required for entrance into universities- themselves never went to university- isn’t this madness?…. I will suggest that all teaching/education focused (teachers-producing) institutions be upgraded to become universities…. The entry requirements into the then-grade II teachers college (now defunct), and the NCE are lower than what is required to get into universities. How then do we expect the teachers who themselves never attained the qualifications that could earn them places within universities- to produce good students that would be able to proceed to universities. I have no apologies about this, individuals who never had up to the minimum 5 credits required to gain a place in the universities should never be allowed to teach students who we expect to proceed to universities. When the Oshiomole’s public trial of the Edo school headmistress went viral, some of us had sympathy for the woman- she is a victim of the same system, maybe she had poorly trained teachers as well, and there was no way she could give what she never had.

MORE GOOD TEACHERS NEEDED- teacher to student ratio should be reduced to a manageable size, more teachers should be recruited to fill vacancies in schools that are under-staffed. All those times that we never had teachers meant we never covered all the topics in the syllabus- in my case and in the case of many others, the grounds for failure in the WAEC is long set, even before the exams are written.

TEST THE TEACHERS AS YOU TEST THE STUDENTS. A robust system of quality control should be put in place, I know culturally there is a problem with ‘asking the child to assess the parent’. There must be ways of asking the students to give feedback on their teachers— this is being done successfully elsewhere, it is part of a comprehensive performance management system. I remember the issue I had with my parents- who were teachers too. Whenever I expressed my concerns about the poor qualities of teaching- they only reminded me to go and carry my books and read them, and stop playing football about… there were issues being brushed under the carpets, of course the last 20 years have changed their opinions on this- as most of the system have become even more failing… some of the teachers would rather not enrol their children in the schools where they teach.

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There should be an independent agency that ensures the quality of the teachers are checked, and upgraded where there are identified gaps in teacher’s subject knowledge and teaching skills. I am not suggesting that people should necessarily lose their jobs- of course there may be need to ask some people to leave the profession if they fail to become better after management measures have been introduced- but the essence of the exercise should not be punitive, but to save what is left of the system.

SOME CONTROVERSIAL SUGGESTIONS?

CHILDREN OF POLITICIANS SHOULD ATTEND STATE SCHOOLS? There have been public outcries that the children of the politicians should be enrolled in public schools in the jurisdictions where they govern. This is a colourful idea, but what happens where a politician has no children, or where all their kids have become adults and living independently? THOUGH this suggestion may force them to take measures that are more radical, and see things changed rather too quickly, but it may be infringing on the fundamental human rights of their children too. Every summer the pictures of the politicians’ families attending graduation of their children in overseas’ schools flood the social media…WHILE the children of the poor languish in the ‘universities of Strikes’.

NO TEACHER IS BETTER THAN BAD TEACHER? There is a wild spread use of unqualified teachers, if it is not acceptable that an untrained doctor should treat us when we are sick, why should it be acceptable for untrained teachers to teach school pupils… examples of where unqualified teachers are commonly used within the system is the NYSC- if a graduate is not specially trained to be a teacher, he/she should not be asked to teach… In my case as NYSC teacher- I had the subject knowledge, but I lacked the skills of a teacher. So should the schools rather stayed unstaffed? Or what can we do differently with the NYSC teachers?- If NYSC members must teach, there should be a short teacher’s training scheme incorporated into the NYSC orientation for those who are deployed into schools, this will prevent some of the damage that bad teachers do to secondary school pupils’ learning.

STATE OF EMERGENCY should be declared in the education sector of Nigeria, these matters require urgent interventions, the government should become more serious with their commitments to education, and teacher’s training in Nigeria should be overhauled. There are many potential talents being harmed in the systems, they are the leaders of tomorrow, something must be done to reverse the damage, and it must be done now.

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Education

Common Entrance; Kogi Parents Groans Over Inability To Pay 13,500.

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Some parents in Kogi state has described as an extortionist policy by kogi state government, for payment of common entrance examination fees of 13,500 by pupils preparing to transit from primary school to secondary school, OBSERVERS TIMES report.

This is against the background of the government policy directing Principals of secondary schools to channel such payment through a pay platform, created by the state government through the Ministry of Education.

Hithero, payment for common entrance examination is usually free of charge,so the new development has raised unnecessary pressure on the poor parents in Kogi state.

This is coming at a time salary payment to workers is in percentage and not forthcoming to sustain the daily running of various homes,with poor business environment.

Most parents can not even afford such payment as it is on the high side,as many of the pupils may loose the chances of transiting to secondary schools for lack of funds.

The state government has resorted to mopping up of funds from agecises of government and parastatatals, owing to dwindling federal allcations and inability to access further loans from commercial Banks or financial institutions.

Kogi,though not on the disadvantaged states list educationally,but the indices in the last five years shows alot of backwardness in its education program owing to policy somersault.

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Crime

The Abducted students were moving in a mini van from Okigwe to Uturu between 7pm – 8pm,Abia State gives detail

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Press Release

Abia State Government is currently monitoring an incident that happened in Okigwe, Imo State, yesterday which led to the suspected abduction of yet to be determined number of students of the Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), who apparently ran into a yet to be identified gang of hoodlums operating along the Okigwe-Uturu Road.

Preliminary information available to us indicates that the students were moving in a mini van from Okigwe to Uturu between 7pm – 8pm when they ran into the armed gang who marched them into the nearby forest along with other yet to be identified travelers. Two of the students managed to escape from the hoodlums while others are still being held at a yet to be identified location.

We are working with the government of Imo State and relevant security agencies in both states to ensure the rescue of the abducted students and others.

Members of the public and ABSU community are advised to remain calm as we will spare no resource in ensuring the safety of the victims.

No criminal operating within our environment will be allowed to escape justice as we take the job of protecting lives and property of Abians and visitors to the State very seriously

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Thank you.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Honorable Commissioner for Information, Abia State

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Crime

EXCLUSIVE: Abuja Schools Shut Down As Truckload Of Bandits Arrives In Border Town

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Despite assurances by the police authorities that the Abuja is safe, private schools in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday, hurriedly shut down their activities over fear of possible attack by kidnappers.

LEADERSHIP learnt that some schools hurriedly sent their students home when news got to them over 200 unidentified men suspected to be bandits were dropped by a truck in Sabon Wuse area of Niger State, a border town with Bwari, Abuja.

A source disclosed  that some private schools closed their schools with instructions to student to remain at home till further notice.
Some parents who do not want their identities revealed told our correspondent that the schools gave the instructions on various group WhatsApp platforms of the schools.

In the last two weeks, over ten persons have been kidnapped in Bwari area council with ransom of about N10million paid to secure their release.

Last week, about seven persons were kidnapped in Sabon Fulani area of the council and about N5 million ransom was said to have been paid.
According to residents, the fear was heightened following the report that over 200 unknown persons were dropped from a truck in Sabon Wuse area.
A parent who spoke to LEADERSHIP said, “We were asked to come for our children in their school before the time they were supposed to close for the day.
”I don’t know if they will be going to school tomorrow because we are still waiting for further directives from their school group WhatsApp platform”, the parent, who does not want her identity revealed said.

Another parent told LEADERSHIP that there was specific instruction for students to remain at home until further notice from the school authorities.
”My children came back home before the usual closing hour. When I enquired, the school said there were reports that kidnappers had surrounded Bwari area council and they (school authorities) do not want to be responsible for any kidnapped student, hence the closure of the school.
”As we speak, the school has been shut down indefinitely,” he said.

Some of the schools in Bwari area council that sent their students home yesterday for fear of possible attacks by kidnappers include De-Goopherwood Montessori School (close to Nigerian Law School), Glorious Bright School, Tundun Fulani and Asusi International School.

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A parent, who has children at Glorious Bright School said she got a call from the school management to come and pick their children before the normal closing hour for fear of attacks by kidnappers. Another parent who has children at De-Goopherwood Montessori School also confirmed that his children closed before the normal closing hour.

According to her, the students were asked to go home after information got to them that there is a likelihood of a breach of security in Bwari.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Veritas University, in Bwari, has been closed down and students sent home.

According to a senior lecturer of the school, who said she was not authorised to speak with journalist, ”The school was shut this morning by the vice chancellor. ‘We received a circular that everyone should vacate the school by 11am today (yesterday). ”

She said the students had been on holiday since last week but the academic staff and other staff were still going to school before the circular was sent out.
”Though the students were on holiday, we were still going to school until we got a circular today (yesterday) from the office of the Vice Chancellor that everyone should leave the campus”, the source said.

Another polytechnic in the area also sent its student out of the hostel.

A 200-level student of Dorben Polytechnic, Bwari, told LEADERSHIP that the school authorities issued a circular asking the students to vacate the hostels and that henceforth they will holding lectures online.

The student who studies public administration at the polytechnic said all the student promptly complied with the directive and quit the hostels.
About three days ago, the FCT Police Command faulted information that the territory was under possible the attack of Boko Haram terrorists. The command had, in a press statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Yusuf Mariam, said, “The attention of the FCT Joint Security Team has been drawn to a viral publication in the social media purporting that the ‘Federal Capital Territory is under the attack of Boko Haram Terrorists’.

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”The Joint Security Team of the FCT wishes to refute the mischievous publication targeted at creating palpable tension amongst the well-spirited residents of the FCT.”

We’re Monitoring Situation – Police

Meanwhile, following the social media report of invasion of Bwari axis of the FCT by suspected Boko Haram terrorist, bandits or kidnappers, the Nigeria Police have said they monitoring the situation.

Though the spokesperson of the police and the FCT PRO did not comment on the issue, a reliable senior police officer, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP that the police management had deployed tactical teams which are monitoring the situation, but that there is no cause for alarm.
According to the source, the situation is very critical and the police are not taking it lightly.

There were reports on social media of invasion of Bwari by a group numbering about 800.

This led to report of closure of schools around the area fearing abduction as has been the case in recent times.

27 Abducted Kaduna Students Regain Freedom
Parents and family members of the kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State can now heave a sigh of relief after they were released by their abductors yesterday.

According to the chairman of the parents committee, Malam Abdullahi Usman, 27 of the students who were in the captivity of the abductors were released unharmed.

He said two of the students had escaped on the day they were abducted but that the parents chose to keep mute in other not to jeopardize the chances of securing the release of the remaining students.

Earlier, 10 of the students were released in two batches of five each after it was reported that ransom was paid.
When asked whether ransom was paid for the release of the 27 students, Usman declined to speak on it, stressing that the parents worked tirelessly, including reaching out to prominent persons to assist towards their release.

“We are indeed thankful to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Kaduna-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Gumi among others for their roles towards the eventual release of the students.

“We also thank the journalists who helped to publicise our cries and worries, and Nigerians who encouraged and prayed with us for the safe release of our children. We are indeed grateful and pray that God will bless them all,” he said.

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The parents of the students had on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly in Abuja to protest the continued holding of their children in captivity and government’s apparent indifference over their abduction.

The students, 39 in all, comprising of 23 females and 16 males, were abducted on March 11, 2021 from their school premises. Two of the students were said to have escaped from their abductors leaving 37 of the students, out of which ten of them were released before the final release of the balance of 27.

Meanwhile, the students were taken straight to the Kaduna Police command headquarters in two 18-seater buses, accompanied by an ambulance and nurses.
They looked emancipated and one of them could hardly work and had to be helped and later rushed to the hospital.

In a short address, the Commissioner Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan, who spoke to newsmen at the police headquarters in company of the police commissioner, said details will be given about the students today.

“Yes we can confirm that the students have been released as you can see, but details will be made available on Thursday. They will be taken for proper medical checkup now,” he said.

Meanwhile the state government has confirmed that the Police Command had reported the release of the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in Kaduna State.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the release of the 27 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, near Kaduna and congratulates their friends, families and the government and people of Kaduna State following the happy end to the saga.

“We are happy they have been released,” says the President.

“We express our deep appreciation to all the actors who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome,” President Buhari said in a statement by his media aide,Garba Shehu, yesterday.

Credit Leadership Newspaper

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