Of An Educational System Gone Gall And Gory

By Terinwa Adesipo
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Every beginning is designed for an end, but whether the end of such a beginning will be tragic or comic is what remains greatly immersed in speculations and conjectures until the curtain is finally drawn. Although the end of everything is bound to manifest, there are some life’s sacred amenities whose end must be forever suppressed and suspended till the end of eternity. For many of these amenities, they are a lifetime process with no possible end.

Growing up was probably the best time anyone from my part of the world got their best preparation for life. In such setting, we were fed with the doctrine that there is only one thing that can channel one speedily to progress and prosperity without engaging oneself in shady deals and unholy transactions, such simple trick to life we were told is entombed in the glorious womb of Education. It was to its many fruitful offspring that it was then crowned the Lord of all human opportunities. In the long list of life basic necessities is education, the very tool of mental emancipation, illumination and progression; it is perhaps the root of all formally acquired knowledge.

Although, many in my society cannot possibly be defined as the rich and mighty, they were the Talakawas of the society, but regardless of this as well as the financial impotency that accompanies such status, every parent as well as Guardian scraped together all the few coins they’ve got to send their kids and wards to school, because they believe that even in a Jobless and turbulent world, tomorrow holds a wonderful gift for the educated fellow.

Fast forward to many years after, such belief in the saving grace of education has greatly diminished. As I walk through the corridors of one of my many high schools few days ago, it seems to me as though what was created and birthed to save the destinies of many and remold the future of multitudes has now been transmogrified into a tool of existential and perhaps eternal destruction of innumerable. Howbeit, the fact that it was a publicly funded secondary school, it was then; in its glory days, the ground and guard of all great and exceptional achievements; a great force to reckon with, one which boasts of an highly funded and well-equipped library among diverse others basic facilities and equipments. For many of us, we could not have missed such opportunity for even the Oxford’s of this world. But sadly, such same story can no longer be said as at today. It must really had been that nothing really last forever in the tropics.

As I stepped into the gates of this once revered and renowned secondary school, the only red carpet treatment I got was an unsavoury view of heavily dilapidated classrooms and collapsed buildings. In a disheartening manner, many kids who were in the class were either yelling, ambling or playing in the fields at this early hour of a weekday. To this, I couldn’t be anything but bewildered. It was with this disgustful realism that I concluded that the good old days in Nigeria’s educational system have sure been exiled and perhaps buried alive. With such unwonderful reception, I couldn’t but helped to believe I was not in the dystopian planet. For many hours, it looked as though the graphic recordings of a barbaric era were being played before my naked eyes.

Sadly, this current ugly condition of my Alma Mata is generally the realism in many other publicly funded educational institutions in Nigeria, those which were created and birthed to enhance intellectual growth and breed civil and productive minds. But the million dollar question is, how and when did all this educational institutions descended into this pit of academic hell?

Although, I could not get a perfect answer to this question, I found a pointer to how this one-time horrific stranger has now became an undeserving but potentate citizen of our Phrontistery. But how well has our educational institutions fallen? This question which many in high powers pretend not to have a hint not to say the real answer to, has sadly brought upon the nation many ill happenings. In a world where private educational institutions are now considered the paradise of formal education, a world where qualitative education is now considered an abomination for the financially weak, but an exclusive patrimony of the children of the rich and powerful, nothing else could had better begets such bitter realism as we currently have it today in Nigeria.

For many who might attempt to feign ignorance and those who impossibly are in the dark about this dark moments in Nigeria educational institutions, let me present to you some open secret revelations. The current Nigeria educational system is perhaps the most decayed in the entire universe, one greatly defined and bedeviled with manifold rot such as dearth of facilities in many of this institutions to over populated students in a classroom that can be likened to a cubicle with no teacher ready to be tortured by such overwhelming student population, to incessant industrial strikes by teachers and lecturers, to the advent and untriumphant entry of many private educational outlets as well as ridiculously exorbitant fees in Publicly funded institutions. On this note, it can well be said with enough justification that the country called Nigeria is headed for an almost irredeemable doom.

In an era where we should be boasting of great and glorious educational institutions which are defined by outstanding universal achievements and also producing and promoting intellectual achievers, what we are widely identified and universally defined by is a dead duck better packaged into a free meal scheme for all basic school students. Surely, decapacitation is not and can never be the cure to headache. Let me clearly state and clear such ambiguity, I am a strong believer in such educational stimulant such as free meal scheme for basic school students, but for how long are we going to keep building something on nothing. For a school that has no basic educational facilities for teaching neither educational amenity such as book for the students to read, free meal for such student is rather a curse than a blessing.

In many of these educational institutions, the realism of an educational calendar where days spent away from school due to incessant strike transcends that of days of active academic learning is rather dangerous. For an institution which has teachers who are first entrepreneurs; dealing and engaging in all ilk of business transactions during school hours before they imparters, nothing retrogressive can be far from our current existence and perhaps future reality as a country. The big question is how possible it is for a vehicle without an engine to be set in motion. Although this is no justification, it should be noted that these teachers are the greatest victims of inadequate payment of paltry and indecent salaries, for some, the last time they were ever paid for services rendered in the classroom is probably lost in their memory.

To add insult to this injury, many schooled but uneducated fellow are quick to justify this horrific state of Nigeria’s public educational institution with such well-rehearsed although incoherent memory verse that “education was not and never created for the poor” and as such there should be no complains but rather commendation when this set of financially weak persons are allowed access to such “un-educational” education. Belonging to this category are also those who believe that free educational system is impossible in a country where the legislators take home half of the nation’s wealth and others in government take home the remaining for engaging in a task which should be subject to volunteering, whilst leaving the entire hoi polloi to fight for the crumbs that comes off their table. These categories of persons are also the frontrunner and apostles of exorbitant fees for public schools as well as founders of assorted private educational outlets all over the country.

But this is only gall, where is the gory? This realism which cannot possibly be explained without a stream of tears almost gushing out from the eyes of anyone who attempts to narrate such is sadly the new order of things in Nigeria education. For those who understand unambiguously well what is meant when it is said that “an idle man is the devil’s workshop”, the menace of cultism in Nigeria’s tertiary as well as basic educational institutions cannot be unexpected. Or how strange can it be that students who are product of incessant strikes which keeps them away from what ought to restrain and guide them away from disastrous activities are now the greatest beneficiary of such destiny damaging experience?

From students who were ones employed as instruments of electoral thuggery to those who now celebrate carnival of bloods, engaging in no other activity other than killing one another and occasioning needless violence on a horrific scale, the country’s educational system cannot be far from being an albatross . It is in times like this that those who conceived, toiled and sacrificed for the introduction of formal education in Nigeria must now be shedding tears for not just a vain end of their labour but for the dangers this current realism now portends for posterity.

In a clime where an ideology which was originally launched to raise great leaders for a brighter tomorrow has now been transmogrified into that which now produces ambassadors of hell, many of who are the product of such epileptic educational calendar and structure in Nigeria, disaster is only preliminary. For a nation which prepares and presents its younger generation with nothing but a heart-rending and hopeless future such as this, existential suicide is just an icing on the cake.

Or what else should be expected from a country which now fully boasts of a nation where crime is adored and adorned and intellectualism dejected and eternally rejected one which has resulted into the exodus of many of the country’s intellectuals to foreign land where they now irrigate greener pastures, contributing to the development and growth of other nations. Whilst the ridiculous allocation greased into the pocket of the nation’s educational budget every year is a major contributing factor, the illegal and unfruitful channels to which this insufficient allocation is expended is the real cankerworm. Retrogressively, Nigeria is now at the vanguard of nations where innovation is abominable and the development of STEM unofficially illegal.

Surely, like many have reasonably observed and coherently established, Nigeria no longer belongs to the class of a failing but now a failed state. For this set of believers, they find it greatly impossible to conceive that a country suffocated by these manifold woes is still a walking corpse and not really a ghost. To the uninformed, education in Nigeria has been secretly sent to the world beyond perhaps through the electric chair torture. If this many unfair treatment meted out on Education in Nigeria is anything to go by, then nothing beautiful should be expected from the future.

Although, there can be no end to education; be it formal or informal education, it should be noted that the means and manner in which a country treats its educational system will determine whether such countries will keep alive its existence or will soon join the league of other failed and now interred nations. Nigeria surely has a choice, we can either choose to keep abode in the graves we are gradually digging for the nation or better still, rose to our feet and revive our dying educational institution from this coma we have forced it into. It should be essentially noted that this revival cannot be fully achieve until there are vocational institutions which can take care of those whose strong feet do not lay in classrooms works but rather in skills and trade. This is sure a world where we have different folks with different strokes, and as such this must be respected.

One important remark must be made here, in addressing these woes that now greatly bedevils the Nigerian Educational system, basic qualitative education must fundamentally be a right that must be enjoyed by all and sundry at no cost at all. It is only after this that we can then correctly diagnose and fully cure Nigeria of its many ailments. Of course, how can we continue to imagine that what the ancestor of functional psychology, John Dewey, has baptized not a preparation for life but life itself is unfairly treated in our own clime. How can we expect goodwill from that which we have exiled from our territory? Can education provides us anything worthy when it has been casted into the captivity of our many synthetic graves? Surely, even this cannot be imagined in a world of fantasy.

Terinwa Adesipo is the Secretary, Students Advocates Association, Lagos State University, Nigeria.