The new Oyo State education policy: Ruin or legacy?
By Yusuff Olayode Supoto
It is saddening that education has lost its glories. A peep into the system of education in Nigeria reflects that a more efficient curriculum needs to be in place. However, every time new effect is added to Nigeria's education policy, our people begin to politicize priorities, resulting in divided opinions that point to the fact that some are not even after the success of the country. To counter a policy, it is important one weighs the glories available from it, with the bad that may at the end emanate, giving a clean mind the opportunity to have a stand.
This is the same with the new education policy in Oyo State. The moment the state government decided to introduce an education standard that frowns at failure in a bid to reset the dilapidating curriculum, make it withstand competitions from far and within, and place it head to head with its flourishing counterparts, verbal outrages have been noticed in the nooks and crannies of the state to condemn the system.
Last week, I encountered a woman, who saw the move as unnecessary, in a dialogue. The woman, with no noticeable education was of the views that the State government planned to reduce the number of students in the state by saying some students should repeat a class. The attentive woman said of over hundred students in his child's level, 30 were promoted. She said that government was looking for a means to cut spending in the state. After her statement, I was not happy, because education deserves more understanding than politicizing government agenda of this kind. I decided to render my own word of encouragement, using myself as an example, and in the presence of her child who was not promoted.
During our secondary school days and up till now, we all believe anyone that repeats a class is a failure. When I was in Junior secondary school 3, I had the intention of proceeding to a popular and state government managed school of Science in my locality, Wesley College Of Science. Upon collecting the form and sitting for the examination, I failed. I was surprised I did, because I was not that dull to receive a failure message from the school.
After deep thought, I decided to retake the examination a year after. To achieve this, I have to repeat Junior Secondary School Three (SSS3) or retake the Examination in Senior Secondary School One (SSS 1). Retaking the examination made me quit my school to avoid unnecessary abuse from friends. I convinced my inquisitive parents, my father especially, whom I know could be a clog in the wheel of my decision. I changed my school to avoid disgrace from my co-students, but still I was adamant on achieving my desire.
After this, I approached another school with hopes I could get all the necessary things to qualify me for an admission into that school of science. I have the intent of repeating JSS 3 despite having A's in the previous Junior Secondary School Examination. The principal of the new school I approached thought my parents were not educated, and believed I hoodwinked them with my self-desire. But my mother, echoed before him that my decision was to prepare me to retake Oyo State School of Sciences Entrance Examination.
I started, and received a turn around. The school was no different from my previous school, but it rendered more services in extramural classes, had good English Teachers, and offered SS2 students opportunity to sit for WAEC Examination. Despite the perceived incentives, I was not disturbed, I went on without thinking of jettisoning my desire.
The following entrance examination into the college of Science, I passed. I was happy, but my present school principal got interested in me, and pleaded I stay with them. These schools are private owned, and are believed to be more standard than the school of Science I clamoured for. After my principal convinced my parents, they changed their opinion, saying my wasted year will not count when I seat for exams in SS2. However, when they saw I was not yielding to the advice, they accepted I follow my intention.
Many would have thought I took a wrong decision, leaving private schools for an underfunded public school. Within me, I was pleased because I wanted to know why every Wesley College Student I met then tricks me with sound knowledge of Mathematics and science subjects. Wesley Students in my area learn to solve my problems with smiles, and see my school as substandard despite the huge school fee I pay.
On getting to the school, Wesley college of Science, I was astounded. The scheme was far beyond my expectation. The teachers, although that may not be the case now, were diligent to duties, and the then principal, Mr. HLT Kolapo was like a security guard who toured round the school to see that teachers were up and doing. 'No reason for a teacher to hide in the staff room while is attention was required in the class,' the principal always say.
I started, and enjoyed the environment and the education system. Not long, my friends who condemned my attitude approached me and were as well overwhelmed by the system of the school, even though they had spoken ill of my action. In a I helped them tackle their problems. Today, the class I repeated resulted in something wonderful in me. I acquired how to battle senior school exams without hindrance, which prepared me for other sojourns.
After narrating my personal encounter to the mother whose child was not promoted, she asked, 'is the standard the same till today?'
I replied, 'Yes I accepted the standard might have changed, but how will education be revived if we allow the system to remain unstandardised.'
To a sane mind, no doubt, the depreciating standard of education in the country calls for a stiffer policy. According to history, education used to be a thing of pride. It is disheartening the system got a new look. Some senior secondary school students preparing for WAEC fail to solve simple Algebraic Equations and cannot write letters when need arise, but are been promoted. On several occasions, I have tested quite a large number of SS3 students with Mathematical Indices but they failed to solve. I have an SS2 student that cannot write a clear sentence about herself, let alone an essay about Nigeria, our fatherland, but get promotion every session. I have advised she return to JSS1 but her parents are using the rotten system as a protection.
Few days back, I joined Ajumose Bus from Monatan to Iwo Road, on entering the bus, I met an estimate of around 100 students. In this mingle, with old and young people, I expected calmness from the students. However, I saw another indication few minutes after my entry. An FM Station played a pop song, and the bus experienced shouts, they all started singing and dancing. The chorus generated infuriation from me and others, and I called them to attention. My demand after calling them to attention was that anybody who was able to find x in the equation 2x+3=2 would get 200 Naira. Immediately, calmness was forcefully generated. I was hearing a voice underneath, saying '5x'. I assumed that was the only student ready to learn, but he is not a span close to the answer. These students are grownups with class ranging between JSS1 to SSS3. It is these same set of students that continue to burn schools and beat their teachers for failing to promote them. Now judge, are these students worth been in Secondary Schools? Let us not fool ourselves with lies that will not lead our country, our state, anywhere. If a student fails, let him repeat.
Now that the state no longer pay for WAEC fees on ground that Oyo State students are not capable of passing the exam, who is going to lose at the end? Is it the government that decided not to pay the fees, or the parents that do? Politics aside, Governor Ajimobi may not be your desire, and might not have performed up to my and your expectations, but on his stand to revive the education system of the state, he has made a remarkable legacy. How will we produce the likes of Omololu Olunloyo, Adelabu, Dibu Ojerinde, Adisa Akinloye, Richard Akinjide, when our education system is in shambles? How will education be the 21st century solution to Nigeria's problem, when we are demanding that our education policy should not be revived?
Oyo state indigenes need to get this right, and shun politicizing favourable agendas. The government is trying to make of our children, successful professional, and some are in their houses supporting destructions and failures. That is why we have more thugs and illiterates in the state today. Remember, when your child ends up a failure, Ajimobi has nothing to lose, but we will. Who will be happy seeing supposed best brains dragging foots on the streets without a tangible jobs? Let us support the new education policy in Oyo State to have a community devoid of thugs and illiterates. I am not a politician, but when I see a standard policy, I join in harvesting the goods of it. I do not support destructions in anyway.
Yusuff Olayode Supoto, a commentator, writes in from Ibadan, Oyo State.