The Oasis Reporters

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Let me start this treatise by confessing it is possible that had the Mallam’s competency test been administered on me, I would most probably have scored well below 50%. There is no way I could have remembered who Mungo Park was or even Frederick Lord Lugard and would have been more concerned with the business of putting bread on the table for my children than to be bothered with who Donald J. Trump is.
I am ready to bet with my pension that even the present occupants of the Kaduna State Assembly now housed in the building named after Lord Lugard do not remember who he was. How are we sure that the tenants in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House remember who he was.
That is beside the fact that most of those who are tenants or currently working there are imported.

I did not train as a teacher but I do know that so much is ploughed into the processes that produces teachers. We must agree without further debate that such processes have suffered serial abuses in years gone by.
For example, the abolition of the Teacher Training Collages to my mind was a terrible blunder. This is what was largely exploited by the Local government system in Kaduna State to recruit virtually any school dropout deploying same in the primary school system. It is possible that there are hordes of such who may not have seen the wall of either the former Teacher Training or even Secondary school. It therefore means that we do require some form of educational reforms if our State is not to be left behind.

If we are agreed on the need for reforms of some sort in the education sector in Kaduna State, what form should such reforms take?
We must agree too that reforms do not usually produce instant results therefore they need very careful planning before the implementation phase. To wake up suddenly and ambush teachers with an ill conceived competency test is not the way to go about it. It there was need for such a test, there are more competent avenues that ought to have been tasked to conduct the test such as the Teachers Registration Council or the National Institute as these are professional bodies. Something tells me that there cannot be a better way of assessing a teacher than in the classroom before the pupils. Though this may take a long time, it surely will produce the best outcome and it should be a continuous exercise. It is very difficult no matter how much one tries to understand the urgency by the Kaduna State government to clean up the system in one fell swoop.

The manner in which the Mallam pursues issues with regard to education in Kaduna State to me is highly suspect. How for instance can the deliberate closure of tertiary institutions in Southern Kaduna for almost 5 months key into his reform agenda? How do you spend billions feeding school pupils who either have no classrooms, furniture or teachers? The focus should have been to rehabilitate the demoralized teachers while renovating and equipping the classrooms. The last step should be the pupils themselves, their books and uniforms that is where the resources are available. Education does not come cheap which is why the political sloganeering of “Free Education” is nofhing but a ruse. The Government of Kaduna State should follow the steps of saner States by surrendering all the Mission Schools which were fraudulently taken over in the early1970’s without compensating their owners. The reasons adduced for taking over such schools did not make sense then and particularly now. Doing so will enhance quality and competition amongst other benefits. Let us keep the politics aside and deal with the core issues that have become an albatross to the progress of education in our State.
The option of sacking teachers who were ambushed with a dubious competency test is not viable.
Laughable is the plan to recruit 25,000 new teachers. What yardsticks will be used in the recruitment? Is it not more laughable that some of those who allegedly failed the competency test could reapply? Can you now see where the politics comes in?

The Mallam, our Mallam has certainly bitten much more than he will be able to chew within the short time left for him to vacate Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
Instead of threatening fire and brimstone would it not be wiser to concentrate on drafting his handing over notes? As we speak Kaduna State is in a terrible mess never witnessed since her creation. The media team left bebind by the Mallam since fleeing to a foreign clime to access qualty education are fighting tooth and nail to manage the crises ensuing from the so-called education reforms. Whenever the Mallam returns, he will meet a situation worse than that which he left left behind. The local council staff due to be sacked are waiting too. For now, those of us disenchanted with the policies of this government are busy preparing for 2019 while wishing the Mallam a safe return trip back home.

Written by Gora Dauda, a social media commentator from Kaduna, North west Nigeria.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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