On Monday, 5th October, the global community marked World Teachers’ Day, a day set aside to celebrate teachers for their invaluable contributions to educational, sociological and psychological growth of mankind. In Nigeria, the event was celebrated with fanfare, fine speeches and promises from federal and state government officials, while teachers reeled out multiplicity of demands and unfulfilled agreements with their employers, including months of unpaid wages. After all entertainment, the status quo remains.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerian government has systematically neglected the education sector. Presently, the sector can be considered to be near comatose. The sector suffers incessant strikes from Academic Staff Union of Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, Nigerian Union of Teachers, Polytechnic lecturers, Students Union and Labour Union. In recent times, the existing industrial actions have been complimented by massive massacre of Nigerian students. This deplorable situation has reached a crescendo, demanding immediate intervention by both government and relevant
stake holders. Education is a fundamental human right and recognized
internationally as key to human, social and economic development. The Jomtien Declaration on Education For All 1990, The Dakar Framework For Action, 2000; the International Consultation Forum on Education For All, Amman 1996, are some international efforts at defining the importance of education in national and global development.
Paradoxically, in spite of her enormous natural and human resources, Nigeria’s education system is bedeviled with the challenges of under-funding and thus poor infrastructure; inadequate classrooms and teaching aids (projectors, computers, libraries, laboratories etc); paucity of quality teachers/ poor or polluted learning environment. As a result of mis-directed attention of stakeholders to issues of quality education for our people and country, our school system is further plagued with numerous social vices like examination malpractices; cultism; and infant-hooliganism (a tendency that is similar to child-soldier in war ravaged countries like Somalia, Angola and Libya; as we are told that cult groups now exist in junior Secondary schools and Primary schools).Comparatively speaking, Nigeria’s education system is rather quantitative than qualitative-oriented; what we find as screaming headlines in newspapers is cult war, rape case in our campuses, violent initiation of unsuspecting students into various cult groups; bribery and corruption allegations against teachers; campus prostitution allegedly patronized by public office holders who are supposed to uphold the thrust of integrity and cultural values orientation. Some people have argued that private school system is better option, but that too is replete with sorry tales.
Although the system dates back to the colonial period when missionaries established and ran schools, the system has overtime been bedeviled with several challenges including lowering of standards, inadequate funding and lack of commitment on the part of the proprietors. The Nigerian educational sector has become an open field harbouring corrupt practices that rankles among players such as policy makers, bureaucrats in various educational ministries and school officials responsible for the school management, parents and students. The sector is marked by infrastructural decays, inefficient and poorly skilled teachers, and dilapidated school structures etc., fueled by general apathy by government to education. The quality of education students receive under the present dreadful atmosphere is highly appalling. The standard has dropped to the extent that the minimal score for admission into universities prescribed by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has drastically gown down to as low as 180 as against 200 out of 400 total score in the years back.
It is an open secret that students hire ‘machineries’ to assist them pass standard examinations in secondary schools. Invigilators are also not left out in this gruesome cesspool of corruption; as they are rumoured to be paid to enable impostors write exams for students. Some schools’ principals and teachers often engage these so called ‘machineries’ to improve their schools’ academic performance in the examinations. Affluent parents go to the examination council/board to buy high grades for their wards. Some unscrupulous lecturers force students to buy hand-outs as criteria for passing their courses.
Administrative staff also compound issues for students by withholding students’ results to force their hands to bribe or show appreciation to them before their results can be released. Unethical behaviour in our school system has forced female students into prostitution, as they use their bodies to lure lecturers for favours; while male students resort to cultism as a means of protection. Students give bribe to get university admission and to pass examinations. This begs the question of the quality of Nigeria’s future leaders. On regular basis, national and state governments cut down on educational funds making education appear unimportant to economic growth. For instance, UNESCO recommends 26%budgetary allocation to the education sector but in reality education sector receives less than 4% budgetary allocation in Nigeria and this varies from state to another. The troubling realization is that the government allocates more money to ex-militants than any other sector including education. This government apathy to education practically justifies the reason for looting of the education funds.
From all indications, inculcation of knowledge is no longer the primary focus for being an educator any more Youths are the future leaders of tomorrow, if the education system which should prepare the youths during their formative years for better future is reeking of corruption; there is need for concerted efforts towards sanitizing the system. I call on teachers to act as agents of positive change and transformation, as doing so will in no small measure assist the nation in achieving its education goals.
I am referring to teachers who love the profession, effective teachers, who assume ownership of the classroom, invest time with students and work creatively for their success, not teachers who impart knowledge to earn a living. If we must develop as a people and a country, we cannot afford to leave the important task of child upbringing teachers alone. We must reason with them, we must work with them, and we must continue to support them.
As we ponder on the way forward, let us have a sober reflection on where we got it all wrong and put mechanisms in place to retrace our footsteps and ensure that Nigerian teachers reap their rewards here on earth while alive before transmuting to heaven.

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