Beginning with an anecdote, my friend- a teacher, once told methat his junior colleague –an NCE holder who was posted to his class by the school management to join him as class teacher, confided on him that he could not teach any subject; not even what he had studied at the NCE level.
According to my friend he asked this colleague the miracles he performed to graduate and be certified as a “trained” teacher andinfact secured a teaching job at a school where parents pay huge sums of money as term fees. But this fellow revealed that he did not undergo any interview process because the proprietor issued a “fiat” to the school management on the basis that he was a son to a “good friend” of the proprietor.
On how he graduated from the institution he attended, he said he got “assistances” at various levels from various quarters during the period of his program whatever “assistances” might mean in this context.
Having said this, it is difficult to deny that the narration above is not a near-reflection of the current educational system in Nigeria either public or privately held, urban or rurally situated, from the basic to the tertiary. Unfortunately, just like most of the systems in this country, our educational system is defective; a system from which this fellow under reference was made. That system, whichdangerously reserves admissions slots for highest bidders, friendsand families and “who-knows- who” can only produce shallow-minded, low-skilled, educated but not learned ill-equippedgraduates and teachers like my friend’s colleague in the narration above.
Today, it is saddening that higher educational institutions which are special temples and which developed societies owe their development and progress, innovations, skills, knowledge transmission and culture of enterprise, have lowered the bar in recruitment process of students. It is also illogical that most of them (private and public) only compete and strive not in research, strategic partnerships and academic excellence but to attract large students’ enrollments as only means for fat IGR through tuition fees, with less consideration for carrying capacities, available human resources among others.
It is a known fact that some private institutions’ Senate reject semester results under the guise of high failure rate and warningtheir lecturers to avoid what they would term as ‘drop’ in students’enrollments.
As a matter of clarity, this ugly culture has its roots from our basic schools who have in recent years discarded the principle of demotion of students with poor academic performance. The primary and secondary schools which are the foundations upon which tertiary education is built have adopted automatic promotion principles for all students regardless of their performances.
This is more practical in the manner our private schools give ‘academic excellence’ awards to almost all pupils and students in each class during their ritual speech and prize given day in order to please parents and guardians to sustain their patronage.
Given these unpleasant realities, relevant government bodies must be above board, ensure full adherence to quality assurance mechanisms and monitoring of both public and private schools. Schools especially those privately held must introduce demotion in practical terms as deterrence for poor academic performance; and update periodically, their quality assurance instruments in conformance with the current global standards. Private Schoolsshould also resist overbearing dictations by parents who select the class they want their wards to start from and when to write final certificate examinations. The private tertiary institutions (not all though), also engage in this mess as well, when they give prospective students course(es) of choice even when such students’ scores in such institutions’-based entrance exams are below the threshold they set by the institutions themselves. There is no doubt that private participation in our educational system should attract reasonable returns on investment but the private players in the system must know that educational institutions are ‘theatres’ that mould citizens for socio-industrial needs and life service.
Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar , a public affairscommentator
writes from Minna, Niger State and can be reached via