MALLAM’S PANDORA’S BOX AND THE LOST BATTLE FOR QUALITY EDUCATION – Gora Dauda

The Oasis Reporters

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The legend of the Pandora’s box has to do with Pandora and the gods. The gods handed to Pandora a beautifully wrapped box with a warning she should never open it under any circumstance. Out of curiosity Pandora opened the box thus releasing upon the world many of the woes society is having to contend with today.
Much in the manner of Pandora is the Mallam currently calling the shots in Kaduna State.
Kaduna State for the purpose of this article is Mallam’s Pandora’s box.
I am very much supportive of the can of worms which the Mallam mustered the courage to open up as regards the education sector in Kaduna State, of which we are having to manage the foul smell escaping from the box.

No sector of our entire existence ought be so sacrosanct that it should not be tinkered with, or periodically conditioned on the requirement of improvement. The rot in the education sector in our State is replicated in almost all the other states of the Federation. The truth remains that the battle for quality education was lost many years ago specifically after gaining independence.

The Northern Region of that time had realized that it was lagging behind in western education and needed to quickly rump up the efforts at making up.
Even if the money was available the manpower and infrastructural requirements were not.

Instead of reaching out to other parts of the Federation for help to train more teachers as well as teach in the not so many of the schools of that period, governments in the Northern Region fearing that recruiting teachers not practicing their faith was going to be inimical to that faith.
What they rather did was to source for halfbaked teachers from either the Indian subcontinent of that period or Egypt.
I attended the only Government school in my part of the State at that time as all other schools were owned and operated by the Missions. In that Secondary school, only the Principal was a University graduate, the rest were mostly Indians in which case both husband and wife were teachers. I must not be totally dismissive of the entire foreign teaching staff some of whom were quite good but the fact remains that a larger proportion needed to be taught as much as those they were employed to teach.

In making the point that governments in the North had no business recruiting teachers from the earlier mentioned climes when better qualified teachers could have been recruited from other parts of the country with ease and at a much cheaper rate.
This in itself would have helped in the National integration effort.
The fact equally remains that governments in the North pushed the interest of religion well beyond it’s elasticity and at the expense of quality education.
At that time was the difference between the government and mission schools not clear enough for even the blind to see?

The government of my State at the time, North Central, did act smart by recruiting primary school teachers from the then South Eastern States not long after that part of the country was liberated during the Nigerian civil war.
Two of those teachers Mr EU Akpan and EE Ekpo all now of blessed memory were posted to my village primary school. These two vibrant teachers literally lit up my village educationally. They brought along with them teaching methods unheard of in many primary schools of that period. They introduced evening lessons for pupils who indicated interest.
It was not long before the results began to show.
To be specific in the National Common Entrance examination of 1970 only 2 of the 22 candidates failed but sadly only 7 were offered admission to Secondary schools. For the very first time this duo encouraged pupils to repeat and to rewrite examinations something earlier unheard of.
I can say with absolute pride that I am a product of these 2 teachers and my village owes so much gratitude and appreciation to them even in death.
Had this policy been pursued much longer, we would have been the better for it.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the policy in the early 70’s during the General Gowon administration which took over all faith based schools particularly Christian schools may not have been driven by altruistic considerations as first thought but by more sinister attempts to frustrate the spread of the Christian faith.
No compensation was paid to the affected owners of the institutions just as no alternative land allocations were made to them.
As in the biological experiment known as osmosis, within a short period the high standards which characterized the faith based schools were adulterated to the level of those in the government schools. Most of the States have since returned the schools to their former owners as a cost saving measure and also to improve on the falling standards. States like Kaduna are still holding on to the schools when common sense should have informed otherwise.

Presently, there are so many private schools some of them operating in spaces as small as 3 bedroom flats and employing just any school dropout as teachers.
This is the genesis of the phenomenon called “Miracle Centres” where organized cheating is openly encouraged during examination as a means of attracting candidates to the schools.
Is this not part of the reason why we now have people in the highest levels of governance with fake or forged certificates?

In the circumstance why will the government of Kaduna State and any other State battling these same problems not simply hand back those schools earlier taken over? All those without genuine certificates know that they are fooling themselves and they must know that they cannot give us what they do not themselves have. Returning the schools to their former owners will reduce the huge cost of funding them as government schools.
Also mentioned in an earlier post. is that colossal error of judgement which informed the abolition of the former Teacher Training Colleges.
When the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had an audience with the President a few days. back, I thought they would press home the need to have him intervene in this issue.

It does not really matter now on which side of the divide we stand, it is agreed that the education system is in a terrible mess hence the urgent need to clean up the augean stable.
A very important question is, How?

Given the scale of the problem there cannot be a quick fix solution which very sadly is what the Mallam in my State is desirous of doing. No fire brigade approach will produce any tangible results. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Mallam knows just everything and does not appear to be needing any input from anyone anywhere.

An all inclusive stakeholders discussion on this very important subject will produce a more workable solution to this problem, I suggest.
Will the Mallam key into this line of thought?
A positive answer is most unlikely. The mentality at work is “I know it all”. It is difficult to begin to fathom the wider ramifications of the anticipated action of the government.

I am still holding firm to the belief that doing the right thing by deploying foul means does not make for a just solution. We have a situation in Kaduna in which there is a lingering problem in almost every sector of the government.
Even as the issues in the.education sector are still on the table awaiting solution, suddenly the downsizing of the local council staff comes up. There is still unfinished business in the Ministry of Local government and chieftency affairs.
In all of these, the Mallam is the bigger problem because he has a fixed mind set.
The manner he flaunts his supposed intellect around town makes me remember the Book of First Corinthians Chapter 4, Verse 7 in the Holy Bible which says,
“For who makes you to differ from another and what have you that you did not receive?
Now if you did receive it why do you glory as if you did not receive it?”
This verse, makes one pray to God Almighty for the spirit of humility. I pray too that if the Lord cannot grant me both intellect and wisdom, I will be content with only wisdom. We have for a governor someone who is so full of himself that he does not need to listen to anybody.
This is the tragedy that has befallen our Kaduna State. To God Be The Glory.

Written by Gora Dauda, a public affairs commentator from Kaduna.

.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *