13 STATES PLAY POLITICS WITH THE FUTURE OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS…

13 STATES PLAY POLITICS WITH THE FUTURE OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS…

WAEC has said that it will continue to hold on to the 2016 WASSCE results of candidates in 13 states until backlog of WASSCE fees owe by the affected state governments is paid.

The total money owe WAEC amounts to more than 2 billion naira, with one state owing 500 million naira. Eight of the debtor states were from the north, while three and two states were from the South-South and South- West geopolitical zones of the country respectively.

The refusal of the states to fulfil something as minutes as WAEC registration fees they had voluntarily pledged to pay is a huge national embarrassment. The message from that failure is clear: education ranks very low in order of importance to many Nigerian politicians- and politics is the highest ranked issue. This is an aberration because the destiny of the country largely depends on education. As the English writer, poet and philosopher, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, put it, ” Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”

Frankly speaking, Nigeria has toiled with some educational programs, which have only served as conduits to transfer money to the corrupt political leaders and their cronies. For instance, the nation launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976, but as noted, the program failed due to lack of fund necessitated by corruption, among other factors. Nigeria again launched another mass-oriented education program, this time branding it the Universal Basic Education (UBE). The former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, declared during the launching of the program in Sokoto that the nation “cannot afford to fail this time around.” However, not long after that, the federal government reported that the falling standard of education in Nigeria is caused by “acute shortage of qualified teachers in the primary school level.” It is reported that about 23
percent of the over 400,000 teachers employed in the nation’s primary schools do not posses the Teachers’ Grade Two Certificate, even when the National Certificate of Education (NCE) is the minimum educational requirement one should posses to teach in the nation’s primary schools.

If l may ask: with the troubling revelations of the shortage and “half-baked” teachers employed to teach in the nation’s schools, how are we certain the current UBE program will be successful? Has the government trained the required number and quality of teachers needed to successfully implement the program? Are the teachers going to be motivated to perform their duties well? Are the classrooms and seats ready, or are the pupils going to sit on bare floor? Are the books and other teaching materials ready? Concerned parents and educators have noted elsewhere that to improve the standard of education in Nigeria, the society has to first educate the educators, and motivate them to perform their duties well. But our leaders do not seem to care!

Leaders who transformed and advanced their societies were known for ranking education as being more important than politics. Lee Kuan Yew, the man who engineered Singapore’s economic miracle, is one of them. Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, who died last year March, was in office from 1959-1990. He was famous for anchoring his economic policy on a generally accessible, top-class public education simple.

Governments all over Nigeria must see the negative publicity engender by WAEC fees default saga as a wake-up call, a trigger for actions needed to remove those things that make it difficult for them to pay adequate attention to education. With education on the Concurrent Legislative List, the federal government should lead a effort to rev up attention to education among the three tiers of government. A good place to start is the next budget. UNESCO recommends a minimum allocation of 26 per cent of the annual budget to education for developing countries eager for development. Away from the past paltry allocations to education, the federal government should soar towards the 26 per cent mark, and encourage the states to take a cue from there.

The WAEC story is only a part of the sad consequences of the poor attention of Nigerian governments to education.

WAEC owes it to the country to name and really shame the affected states to serve as a deterrent to others!

The only raw material with which we can build a man is a boy. That aphorism is true.

Our children are our bundles of joy. They are our tomorrow and that is why we go a great length to protect them for the assurance that our tomorrow is not in anyway subsidized or mortgaged. We cannot afford to toil with the future of their children!

Hence, parents should help their children by appealing to the affected states and relevant stakeholders to pay and obtain the results. They should not play politics with the lives of our children.

Nigerian concerned parents and educators are watching!

Adeogun Kayode

Adeogun Kayode

Pengician

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