Without mincing words, any sensible society whose quest is development will take seriously its educational system. But for our nihilistic “leaders” whose interest is to develop themselves and their immediate relatives on one hand, and to continue to subject the downtrodden poor into continued despondency, servitude and bondage on the other hand, emancipating the deplorable education sector in our country is not their priority.
This article examines the state of primary education in Bauchi State, which without any iota of doubt has gone down the drain due to disdainful leadership.
Do you know that in the whole of Bauchi metropolis, only one primary school is housed with chairs for pupils? Yes! I mean one primary school! Do you also know that there are primary school teachers in Bauchi State who have not been promoted for about 9 to 11 years? In fact, do you also know that hundreds of teachers have died of hypertensive related illnesses in the last four years because of unpaid salaries rooted from incessant strikes and unnecessary verification? Do you also know that a classroom that is supposedly meant to accommodate 35 pupils or 40 at most is housing over 100, and these pupils are sitting on a bare floor to receive lessons? The list of questions is just endless.
Like I mentioned earlier, only one primary school, Sa’adu Zungur Primary School, in the whole of Bauchi metropolis, the seat of government, is provided with the right furniture for the comfort of the school’s pupils. Undoubtedly, even Kofar Fada Primary School, where almost all the Emirs of Bauchi are schooled, is also abandoned. The question is, if primary schools in the State capital, the seat of government, will appear in this shape, what is the fate of other schools outside the metropolis? And what would they look like?
Let me mention only thirteen primary schools that are not far from one another and that are without chairs, and I challenge the reader of this piece who might think I’ve exaggerated what I wrote to visit these schools and see for themselves: Babban Mutum Science Primary School Shekal, Zannuwa Primary School, Dangikka Primary School Bakaro, Baba Sidi Primary School, Unguwar Barno Primary School, Rariya Primary School, Saleh Manga Primary School Gwallaga, Nassarawa, Primary School, and RiminJahun Primary School. Others are: Dutsen Tanshi Primary School, Adamu Jumba Primary School, Kofar Fada Primary School and Kandahar Primary School. All of these schools are without chairs. I kept mentioning chairs because in my opinion is the least likely indicator of the terrible state of primary education in Bauchi state.
Other instructional materials such as textbooks are grossly insufficient and are not even in conformity with the current curriculum. Workbooks, literature textbooks, vocabulary and spelling books—all these materials are completely absent. Not to mention graphic organizers that are meant to depict visual representations of information. It is indeed shameful to recount other indicators if the above teaching aids are completely missing.
To further proof the pharaonic-liked leadership in the education sector, several primary school teachers spent 9 to 11 years without being promoted to the next level. In the event where some of them are promoted, hardly ever are they paid their yearly salary increment. There is also the recurrent and unnecessary verification exercise that is often done in violation of due process, which in most cases results to further delay of teachers’ salaries.
All these atrocities are committed towards people who are saddled with the responsibility of not only upbringing children from the scratch, but nurturing and raising them from their stage of infancy to a stage where they understand and give meaning to life and the essence of their existence as human beings.
Even the disdainful and anathematic crops of leaders we have today are nurtured by the same people they continuously and recklessly dehumanize.
How could these people be willing to give their best when they are forced to spend several months without salary? How would they teach with an empty stomach? How would they have the enthusiasm to teach when they spent 9 to 11 years without promotion? How would they teach when their yearly salary increment is out rightly denied? How would they teach with an overpopulated crop of helpless pupils sitting on a bare floor?
It is because of these reasons that teaching today is not considered a profession. The only person who is left teaching is someone who could not bag appointment in another ministry; therefore their last resort is to teach. The continued neglect by the government of this single, but most important sector is an indication of a terrible system managed by terrible people.
But who are these terrible people managing a terrible system?
They are people in positions of authority nurtured and trained by the teachers who suffer their insensitivity and despotic leadership. They are people who were given free and quality education from the state’s resources, but are busy milking the state dry. They are people who send their children abroad to get sound education at the expense of the State resources, but pretend not to see the children of the downtrodden studying under a tree. They are people who buy cutlasses for thugs to snatch ballot boxes during elections, rig themselves into offices and occupy various positions. They are people who run to Germany when they suffer from headaches but refuse vehemently to buy panadol for public hospitals for my sick grandmother to access.
They are people whose children attend parties in Dubai and Paris with millions of naira in their pockets but ignore a graduate in Nigeria who cannot afford three square meals. They are people whose children attend functional and well-equipped schools abroad with air conditioning, potable water, good toilet facilities and modern teaching equipment, but leave our schools without water or toilets facilities, forcing our children to result to open defecation which unequivocally make them vulnerable to cholera. They are people who award the erection of sub-standard class rooms that cannot last for even five years, when the erected class rooms built by the British invaders still exist.
What consequences are we likely to reap from the downsized educational system? In the last four years, hundreds of teachers have died of frustration and hypertensive illnesses, fuelled by unpaid salaries and disengagement letters issued to some of them. It also gave birth to the poor quality of education that is also evident among pupils in primary and junior secondary schools, as a majority of them could not read and write. The result of this neglect has also trickled down to senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions, especially with the massive failure in WAEC, NECO and JAMB, coupled with the “half-baked” graduates produced by our higher institutions.
What is more worrisome in the case of Bauchi State is that despite the huge money allocated to the education sector in the 2016 budget, there is still no clearly articulated policy by the State government to revitalize the sector and stop the humiliation of teachers. Many of them are still yet to be paid their salaries since January; while some newly appointed teachers during the last hour of Governor Yuguda’s administration are still owed salaries for about eight months.
With these bones of contentions still existing, this writer will continue to keep a critical eye on the sector with the aim of keeping readers abreast and encouraging the State government to make the right decisions in revitalizing education.
Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He can be reached at 08063180608 or [email protected]