SINCE the progressive rot in the education sector in the country commenced, particularly following the military interregnum in politics and governance in this country, there hasn’t been any let or hindrance to private intervention in the sector. It progressed steadily from the primary school level and now quite expectedly, it has reached its peak at the tertiary level. The intervention of private investment in the education sector in any liberal democracy is a welcome development, especially from diverse interest groups like religious and secular sectors of the society. But the development also places a burden on the same society to ensure proper control and standardisation.
A recent survey by a national daily revealed that these schools, especially the private ones at the level of primary and secondary education, are at different stages of deterioration, existing merely to buoy the income of their proprietors. The inspectorate section of the various ministries of education are virtually on perpetual leave, with officials looking elsewhere after receiving some form of gratification. Many of the schools in the country’s 36 states are housed in substandard buildings in various stages of disrepair, endangering the lives of pupils. A lot of these schools lack recreational facilities which are expected to improve the learning process and environment. Aside from the facilities and environment, these schools also lack qualified teachers and teaching aids.
The report even claims that in Enugu State, there is a private school in every 10 houses, with the sole purpose of profiting from deliberate defaults in the society. The teachers are not trained professionals, so their salaries are poor and this compromises the quality of tuition being delivered in the schools. The state governments being the highest employers of professional teachers at that level have since a long time ago stopped employment and the private schools have only employed teachers that are barely literate in order to minimise costs and overheads. The results of these weak foundations are reflected in the abysmally poor quality of the pupils that eventually enroll for secondary education.
Invariably, these same conditions persist in the secondary level of education and the tertiary institutions are eventually constrained to recruit their respective undergraduate students from these detective pools of weak students with severely compromised foundations. Little wonder then that former President Olusegun Obasanjo once quipped that Nigerian graduates were unemployable. Unfortunately, the deterioration of the education sector has been at the instance of successive leaderships in the country, of which the former president is an integral part. State-owned institutions having been serially starved of funds to pursue qualitative research, it became apparent that investment in that sector would yield returns, and many of the country’s political leaders quickly cashed in on the situation.
At the end of the day, the quality of human capital in the country suffers from the compromise occasioned by the extremely weak foundations in the schools. The report also pointed to the proliferation of these schools, almost to the total obliteration of the government public schools. It has got to the point that an emergency should be declared on primary education in the country. If this very absurd situation is not addressed comprehensively, the country will be in very serious danger of producing future generations of illiterates who are ill prepared to confront the challenges of modernity.
There must be a deliberate attempt to improve the performance of the inspectorate division of the various ministries of education in this country so that sanity can return to the schools, both private and public. There should be more to establishing a school than the profit motive and the various state governments must ascertain quality control.
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