Corruption: Bane Of Nigeria’s Education
Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Lagos State chapter, Samson Kayode Idowu, spoke to TAIWO OGUNMOLA on the problems and undercurrents in the nation’s education sector and the way out.
In view of the irreg
Parents are often accused of aiding and abetting corruption in the education system. What is responsible for this?ularities in the Nigeria education sector, what is your position on the trends in the sector?
I want to say that since we have dep
arted from being honest, we have found ourselves where we are today. Until we fight corruption to its totality in this country, we cannot rule out failure in the education sector because we celebrate mediocrity as against excellence.
It is very simple if we fight corruption holistically in this country, every individual w
ill be mindful of his or her deeds. I was in South Africa recently and I read in the newspaper that there were teachers who involved themselves in malpractices with students and they were taken to court and action was taken against them. This would serve as deterrent to others who want to do such in future but here in Nigeria, the parent who bribes his or her way for a child to survive will also buy his or her way in the court of law and such person will be set free.
The common man will look at the trend and say, if the rich could do this, then my own child must survive too. So they will also emulate even if they don’t have the money. The total effect is what we are experiencing today and government is not helping matters. They refuse to pump more money into education, they only budget but to implement is something else.
The contract of a school will be given to a tailor to execute and the person who read Geography or Geology will be made commissioner for education. All this are the catastrophe we are facing in the delivery of education. Until we put education first in whatever we do, Nigeria cannot meet with vision 20:20. No nation develops above her level of education, but here in Nigeria, we toy with it thinking that we have gotten human resources and therefore we can do away with education.
The question is; which type of human resources do we have? The human resources we have in this country are half-baked because the system itself is half-baked. The education that doesn’t allow external and internal educators the tendency to get into the system will not get anywhere because we have to exchange ideas. The thing is that we will only be recycling in mediocrity. Government now says those who will lecture in universities must be PhD holders so that things will not be the same.
They are not thinking aloud and it goes to primary and secondary schools as well. The moment we neglect primary education which is the bedrock of education, then we are into
problems. Not all of us can afford to go to universities or grasp tertiary education. Government should make provision for primary and secondary education, and then whatever you want to do thereafter, you are on your own.
Nobody wants to identify with primary education and nobody wants to be called a teacher of primary school. Until government injects more money and human resource into education, we will not get the desired results. This will also help us to get good results from the teachers, children and parents.
Are you insinuating that because teachers are not well paid,the case of corruption will continue to grow?
The teachers we are talking about belong to the society and what happens in it will have a negative or positive effect on the teachers too. If they are being paid peanuts at the end of the month and paying councillors huge amounts of money, then its normal if they go the way of -if you cannot beat them ,
A teacher will look for a way to make ends meet but if the councilor had been arrested and made to serve as example to others, such a teacher will not emulate corrupt people. I am only giving this as an example to let you know that you can rule out negative elements within the teaching system. I am not saying our teachers are corrupt but there will be a black sheep somewhere.then you join them.
What measures can be put in place to
bring back the value of education?
If teachers are given national awards, this will motivate them to work more and others will emulate it. If welfare of teachers are met as when due, they would be happy. If an individual is happy, he or she will offer the best. But in a situation where twomonths’ salary are being owed, what kind of teaching do you expect? Teachers will offer the services grudgingly and likewise the students.
The effect will be on the students as seen when they sit for public examinations like WAEC or NECO. I will emphasise that until teachers are treated with respect in terms of their welfare, things might not change.
The trend now is for teachers to embark on strike. Should it be the solution to their demands?
Strike does not worth it but we have waited since 2008 for government to implement a simple
agreement which has been very difficult and this is 2012. We are mind builders and whatever we plant in the minds of students in the process of building will go a long way before it can be erased. We are not surgeons who can perform surgeries and correct again. Whatever we teach the students goes a long way into adulthood and if teachers now go on strike, this will assist to get the demands.
Let us get it, were you being cajoled by government all this while?
No. As professionals, we should be able to sensitize the public because we deal with
We met early this month and put committees in place to settle issues but till today, we have not heard anything. If per adventure we go on strike, we should not be blamed because we have done everything humanly possible to avert it. We are being mindful of the negative effects and that is why we are still talking till now to let those who have ears to hear us and to leaders in the state, to intervene before we get started. them. We must let them see the reason for embarking on strikes and we are also sensitive of our students. We are not interested in going on strikes except we are pushed to the wall. We gave government enough time to dialogue with us and get this done without affecting students under our care.