Sep 24, 2014

An Open Letter to Governor Isa Yuguda

Gov. Isa Yuguda. Source: Global Ville News
Oga Isa Yuguda, I heard you have requested teachers to explain why there was, yet, another episode of a murky and abysmal performance by your state, Bauchi, at the last West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations. Sir, the tone of your summons seemed lopsided, suggesting the teachers are solely responsible for the poor showing of the state at the WAEC examinations. Sir, we don’t need to search deeply to realize 70% of the blame rests on your doorsteps as it is in most states across Nigeria.

Sir, I understand that you asked why the result should be poor, in view of the huge investments your administration has made in the education folder over the years. Sir, such problems come when administrations throw money at ministries rather than administration it. Before doling out money to a government ministry, one has to check to ensure that the ministry is structured enough to ensure the money serve its purpose efficiently.  Poor performance comes only when this is not done.

What do I mean by structuring a ministry to ensure it uses its budgetary allocations efficiently? The rules of efficient administration of schools must be enforced before any money sunk into such schools can result in pleasant outcomes.  These rules are basic and include

·         A child going to a secondary school must prove that he can read a simple passage and then answer questions taken from the passage he had read. If he gets admitted despite his inability to read and understand a passage, he ends up staining the result of his school at external examinations.

·         Those admitted have to be forced to continue working hard. This is achieved by the class teacher ensuring those who fail promotion examinations don’t enjoy any promotion. This scares students who would be compelled to read hard, get promoted and avoid the shame that comes with demotion.

·         Teachers who teach these students must also be qualified enough. This can be established by the government ensuring the teachers pass examinations on topics they would teach when recruited. There will always be limited teacher’s vacancies. Hence teachers who score the highest mark should be given the jobs. It triggers a competition, since teachers know that if they score high, they will get the jobs. This leads to improved standards in teacher’s education. Initially, those who fail to get the jobs will hate you but generally, those who like you will grow because the policy spreads the jobs evenly and out of the circle of your political friends.

·         Those who get the jobs must be made to continue working hard by ensuring teacher promotion is based on his/her passing a tough promotion interview rather than on how long he/she has stayed in the service.

·         Teachers are educated people and working environment must be pretty decent. Schools should be kept clean by hired cleaners rather than by students. Broken windows, doors and chairs/desks must be fixed immediately rather than government waiting for every thing to breakdown first in order to give out a contract to friends to get them rich. In like manner, leaking roofs should be fixed and fading walls painted.

·         Teachers have to be regularly paid. When this is not done, it places a stigma on the service and most citizens would want to use the service as a stepping stone only. It also repels the best minds from the service where bright minds are actually needed.

·         Materials needed by teachers for the successful delivery of their services must be in place. So, there should be books, pens for teachers and students and good blackboards.

·         Discipline would have to be enforced among staff of the ministry, not just in the schools where you have teachers, but also the offices of the ministry from where the schools are administered.

·         At the primary level, the public schools must adopt the approaches the private nursery /primary schools use which enables their pupils to read at the ends of the three years of nursery education. This is important because the secondary schools can only succeed with students that meet entry qualification. Your government can “steal” some of these teachers in the private primary schools to help the public schools. Most private school teachers are poorly paid despite their hard work and would want better pays as long as it comes in promptly.

The truth however, is that these guidelines have always been with us. It is however, their disregard that has led to the seeming mire in which our schools find themselves. So, while your government provides the monies needed by the schools, it must also embark on a reform that cleanses the system and allows the flow of the proper procedures. A reform is needed because the rot has thrived for decades and we expected the period of democracy to create the space necessary for these reforms. Perhaps your administration still believes democracy ends when a politician enters office. No, Sir. It isn't so. Democracy is meant to be a benign flood that washes away all filth.

Sir, the quality of education that should give the kind of result that gladdens the heart is delivered by private schools, mostly. This private schools are however, not affordable by the majority of the parents. The few kids that find their ways to the private schools are responsible for the irritating 10%, 20% or 30% scores at the external examinations. If however, your government can improve on the quality at the public school domain, the majority of kids whose options are solely the public schools will also end up with superior education that are not merely pleasant but give rise to the Isa Yugudas, Adamu Mu’azus, Tatari Alis of the future, to the pride and glory of Bauchi State. Long live Bauchi, Long live Nigeria.

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