Lest there be a mistake about it, the scandalously long journey that has left our educational system lurching about in the meadows of nowhere did not begin today. It was not even this generation of Nigerians that hit the earliest paths.
The livelihoods and stability of ordinary Kaduna families are at stake.
The future is in jeopardy: the future of the poorest Kaduna children who can only attend public schools. This future which is stalked by grueling incompetence and staked on the pikes of shockingly convenient dereliction and negligence must be salvaged at all reasonable, if extreme costs.
The days were, especially in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s, when the system on which our education ran bubbled with life and bursted with promise. Then, we were getting it right. It is arguable that we persevered as a result of the resplendence of the embarrassingly few pearls our colonial masters left us. Education was one of those measly, yet invaluable pearls. In those days, having seen the many rungs we could scale on the ladder of development and advancement with hands and feet fortified by education, we seemingly gave it our best. We tried to build our own schools and forge our own system even if like weaver birds we had to pick twigs from far and near to construct something extravagantly elegant, belying our age as a country. We were pretty successful and prudently proud of the foundations we laid.
Teachers and students alike showed intellectualism, patriotism, and promise. The results were startlingly sparkling: a generation of leaders and technocrats received the foundations which prepared and propelled them to handle efficiently the affairs of a nascent nation.
If the harbinger of what was to come was scrawled all over the flight to foreign shores for the fleece of education golden even then, things soon scampered out of the window figuratively and literally. When we began to de-emphasize the power of education, choosing instead the glitter of petro-dollars, education began to take a backseat. Also, we began to have the sore spectre of decaying school buildings with broken and glassless windows. Our inferiority complex soon sauntered in. We believed our education was not good enough, and as soon as we began to believe it, we began to see it. As soon as we began to see it, we stopped the painstaking but invaluable work education demands and supports. “Educational supplements” from abroad became imperative. It began the exodus. Too lazy, and supposedly too poor to attract, import, imprint and repeat those “supplements” here, we began to go there for them. Some who travelled for them have refused to come back; some cannot come back because while they were away, we slid further into the dungeons of dysfunction, unredeemed by the non-existent salve of quality education.
The almost 22, 000 “Kangaroo teachers” of Kaduna State have trampled all over our sensitivities since the news strayed into the media. We are rightly alarmed for our children and the future of Nigeria.
We must continue to lament the harm done to our ivory towers.
All those who at one time or the other held the reins of our educational system at whatever level and in whatever capacity have accounts to render. All public officers who plundered funds assigned to education and used same to fund their scions` entrances to foreign schools have questions to answer.
While we wait for the events in Kaduna to fully unfold, let other states inquire into the state of their education before the “termites” completely bring down the “houses of rotten wood”.
Kene Obiezu, firstname.lastname@example.org