Monday, 13 November 2017

Kaduna “Teachers”: The questions that must be asked

By Israel Usulor
Nigeria is a funny country, the clearest epitomistion of a Shakespearean stage in which day in day out, the leaders and the led act-out varying dramatic scripts that leave sideline watchers dazed. It is often said that Nigeria is a heaven for artistes who seek fresh ideas, for, there is always something new to write about, talk about or to convert into a block boaster Nollywood movie. With Nigeria, it is always “no dull moments”
So last week, the war between the Kaduna state Government and its “unqualified” teachers continued or as some say, reached its peak. In case you missed it, let me refresh your mind:
The Kaduna State Government led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai had in its wisdom conducted a competency test to test the ability of primary school teachers in the state. This apparently was in response to the abysmal level of education in the state. The questions administered on the teachers, words have it, were those of primary four pupils. The outcome proved just shocking as a whopping 22000 of the teachers failed to score 75% despite the ridiculously cheap questions. In fact, some of the questions papers released so far shows that the “brainless” teachers struggled to write the full name of the governor of the state. Governor Nasir El-Rufai has therefore vowed to give the teachers the short end of the stick by showing them the exit door. Already, the state government said applications for the new 25000 teachers have started rolling in despite stiff opposition from teachers in the state who has threatened a total showdown.
While one understands the plight of Governor El-Rufai, as expressed in his avowed decision to butt out the “teachers”, I cannot but raise some questions already thrown up by the saga. It became necessary to raise these questions given that Nigerians in their nature are already treating this mess as a “Kaduna case”. Treating the incident in Kaduna as an isolated one would ensure that we would never ask the necessary questions which could help sanitise the education sector.
One, how on earth did these 22000 “teachers”, who are in no way better than their students find their way into the teaching service? Was there a proper employment process? In whose administration were they engaged and how? If they were properly tested, interviewed and employed, how did their incompetence escape the watchful eyes of those who were in charge of the recruitment process? Or, were they engaged through cronyism, in which people of questionable academic backgrounds get enlisted into the civil service simple because they know someone at the top? The Kaduna state government must go beyond sacking these “teachers” and investigate the process that threw them into the teaching service.
Two, sacking the teachers might appear a progressive idea, but is that the best? Is the Kaduna state government comfortable with the idea that it is going to throw 22000 of its citizens into the tempestuous Nigerian labour market? One is of the opinion that there could be a political solution to the debacle. After all, Nigerian politicians are particularly good in finding political solutions. Why not initiate a retraining programm for the “teachers”? Not only are Nigerian teachers not cared for, there are no retraining programmes for them, and most of them never refresh their brain after many years of leaving school. They are attuned to the daily routine of using outdated methods, textbooks, and working in an outdated system. In a country where teachers barely feed well, where salary is a luxury, where teachers are never supported to go for refresher courses, why should anyone lay the blame solely on the teachers?
As I already pointed out, the Kaduna mess is not an isolated case, it is a national issue. The education sector is in shambles and the government cares less. And then let us not mistake the proposed sack of the teachers as the solution to more serious issues bedeviling the education sector. It is not!

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