Worried by the deplorable state of education in Nigeria, stakeholders have called on the three tiers of government to jointly declare a state of emergency to address the rots in the sector.
In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the South-West, the stakeholders said that turning around the fortunes of the sector via a holistic approach and huge investment of funds was long overdue.
They said that the recent call by the National Council on Education on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector was timely, because most government schools have been “bastardised”.
The stakeholders covered in the survey across Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara were renowned educationists, government officials, school proprietors, parents, public school teachers and principals, lawmaker, guardians and Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), among others.
Commenting, Prof. Pai Obanya, a retired Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of Ibadan, said that the state of emergency was critical to addressing the existing mess.
Obanya, currently the Chairman, Board of West African Examination Council (WAEC), said that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had invited him to a stakeholders’ meeting on the state of education.
According to him, at the meeting I pointed out six aspects in dealing with the level of decay in the sector.
“I pointed out that when people talk about the challenges of education, they are looking at the surface, not at what is down below.
“I pointed out six aspects, which if we could deal with, we will be able to nip the failure in the bud,” he said.
Obanya listed such factors to include: “the policy environment that is where you no longer do policy for people, you do it with them, so you don’t say this is how to educate the ‘Almajiri’, you sit with me as an “Almajiri and we plan”.
He said other aspects were: management framework for education, meaningful access and the overall results.
“When it comes to teaching and learning, we are the only country teaching without teachers and you can quote me.
“So, it was on this basis that I said, you need to treat this thing as emergency; emergency, meaning, solve this problem so that you can solve others.
“But, the problem is this; it is not just declaration of emergency that is something; what is something is treating it as emergency,” he said.
Also, Mrs Mercy Olukitibi, the Headmistress of People’s Basic Primary school, Adeoyo, Ibadan in Oyo State, described the learning environment as “shabby” with dilapidated classrooms and inadequate learning materials.
Olukibiti said that the state government was providing free books to the pupils, which she said, were not enough to go round for the pupils.
“How do you cope in a situation where the government provided only 12 books for a class of 25 pupils, forcing teachers to group pupils when they need the books?
“We need more teachers, as we currently only have five teachers for the 14 arms of classroom; because of that I, as a headmistress, still have to teach.
“We also need grants, which was stopped for no reason over four years ago.
“There is nothing they do in the private school that we can’t do here or even better.
“This is because we are trained to teach and this is why we need the government to assist us through grants,” she said.
Also, Mr David Taiwo, a civil servant, noted that education being the bedrock of national development, must be taken seriously.
According to him, government seems to be less concerned about the massive decay in the sector.
Taiwo said a state of emergency was long overdue because government schools had been bastardised,” he said.
The worker, who decried the level of infrastructure decay in the public and tertiary institutions, noted that most facilities were either too old or in a state of disrepair.
“If you go around many of the schools from the primary schools to the tertiary institutions, there are no functional public libraries, where students can get materials to read and make impact on their society.
“The laboratories are no longer working; students no longer have first hand experience, as to how things work, how various instruments in the laboratories are used.
“The government does not know what legacy building is; it is not building numerous housing or acquiring money, it is the number of lives that are affected through education that matters,” he said.
Taiwo added that schools no longer have first aid equipment, and fields were no longer built inside schools for sports, rather they were built as sporting centres, which were not being taken proper care of.
Also a trader and parent, Yemisi Yusuf, said the state of school in the state was very poor, saying it is not even easy to keep children in school these hard times.
“I am a bread seller, workers will buy only when they are paid, and if they are not paid, I do not get to sell and this will in turn affect how I take care of my children,” she said.
Yusuf said that if the declaration of the state of emergency would make the government authorities to rise to action, then, it should be declared.
In Osogbo, Mr Kola Omotunde-Young, the Commissioner for Education in Osun, said that the state government had over the years invested billions of naira in infrastructure development in public schools across the state.
This, Omotunde-Young said, became necessary to secure a good future for pupils and students in the state.
He said that since the inception of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola-led administration, government had embarked on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of public school buildings.
Omotunde-Young said government had also embarked on construction of a number of state-of-the-arts school buildings with modern facilities to provide conducive environment for teaching and learning.
He said government had constructed 20 elementary schools with 500 standard classrooms, 30 middle schools with 775 standard classrooms, 11 high schools with 792 standard classrooms.
The commissioner said that government had also upgraded and renovated more than 2000 classrooms in old schools and provided modern conducive classrooms for more than 200,000 students.
Also, some public school teachers and principals lauded the state government for addressing infrastructural decay in public schools.
Mr Tunde Adedeji, a public school teacher, lauded the tireless efforts of the state government in tackling the challenges of infrastructural decay in public schools.
Adedeji said the availability of instructional materials coupled with conducive environment had boasted the morale of students in performing excellently in both internal and external examinations.
Commenting, Mrs Funke Akinwale, the Principal of Ooni Government Middle School, Ile-Ife, commended the government for providing enabling environment for both the teachers and students.
Akinwale, however, decried inadequate trained teachers in all the subjects in the state schools.
In Ilorin, a Principal Education Officer in Kwara, Mrs Buky Olawoye, identified inadequate and uneven distribution of teachers in the state as the major problem confronting education in the state.
Olawoye told NAN that uneven distribution of teachers in schools, especially for relevant science subjects, including Mathematics was affecting the standard of education.
According to her, the teachers are over-concentrated in the urban areas and even some schools in the urban areas still lacked teachers in the relevant subjects.
Olawoye, who works in the Education Management Information System of the Ministry, said the education survey reports for 2015 to 2016, indicated that there were 1, 536 pre-primary and primary schools in Kwara, 433 Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) while there were 347 Senior Secondary schools.
According to her, the total number of pre-primary and primary schools teachers stood at 12, 849.
“Total numbers of teachers in JSS were 7, 903, while that of Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) were 7, 509,” she said.
Olawoye said the population of pupils in primary was 201, 956, while the population of JSS students was 111, 598, and SSS stood at 89, 240.
She quoted the numbers of classrooms to include, 8, 409 classrooms for primary schools, 2, 481 for JSS, and 2, 303 for SSS.
Olawoye said there were 1, 895 toilets in the pre- primary and primary schools, while JSS has 700 toilets and SSS 650 toilets.
The education officer added that pupils usable classrooms were only 29 per cent for primary, 75 per cent for JSS, and 39 per cent for SSS.
Corroborating Olawoye, the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Education, Alhaji Jimoh Akanni-AbdulRahman, decried that education sector in the state was in comatose, noting that funding of the sector was grossly insufficient.
Olawoye revealed that the oversight functions carried out by the committee indicated that several primary and secondary schools in the state had dilapidated structures and obsolete equipment.
“Several Schools, especially those in rural areas lack qualified teachers which is responsible for poor performance in public examinations,” Akanni-Abdulrahman said.
He called on the Federal Government to increase funding in the sector as a way of revamping the education sector.
In communities such as Oro, Oke-Onigbin, Omu-Aran, Iloffa and Oko in Kwara South Senatorial District, the problem of inadequate infrastructure and teachers had negatively affected the students’ overall performance.
In his remarks, Mr Gabriel Opatola, the NUT Chairman in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara, said his union with other stakeholders had tried every possible means to redress the anomalies without success.
“We have liaised with the local government, the Patents/Teachers Association as well as concerned development associations across the council to find workable solutions to the menace.
“Not until recently that our effort started yielding results when government announced its plan to recruit more teachers
“We hope the government will expedite action on the process to achieve the desired aims and objective,” Opatola said.
Also, Alhaji Issa Abdulsalam, the PTA chairman in Omu-Aran, said the association had on its part, recruited some teachers in partnership with the Omu-Aran Development Association (ODA) as a temporary solution, adding that education is the bedrock of development.
Abdulsalam called on government to as a matter of urgency increase budgetary allocation to the education sector.
Another parent, Mrs Alize Adebowale, said the rot being experienced in the public schools was responsible for the high patronage and preference for private schools,
Also, Mr Adewale Adeoti, a parent, blamed the governments for paying lip services to education, especially at the grassroots.
“Until the government demonstrates a strong political will toward bailing the nation’s education system from its imminent collapse, things may remain the same,” he said.
Chief Bisi Adeyemi, ODA President, said the association had never relented in its effort and capacity to ensure that the desired transformation envisioned for the sector is achieved.
He praised Bishop David Oyedepo, President Living Faith Church Worldwide, for recruiting some teachers for the community schools in Omu-Aran.
A parent, Mrs Iyabo Osho, said there were many unqualified teachers in Nigerian schools, as some of them go to the teaching line as the only alternative source of employment.
A teacher, Mr Fatahi Yusuf, told NAN that Nigeria leaders had thrown education into the dust bin and were not ready to pick it up again.
He said teachers were not adequately remunerated and they were always denied their entitlements to boost their morale.
Yusuf, however, called on the government at all levels to invest hugely in education to save the future of the country.
Mr Jaiye Hassan, the Proprietor of Effective Secondary School, Ilorin, identified the decay in public schools as a factor that led to the increase in the number of private schools in the state.
Hassan said most of the public schools do not have facilities to aid the teaching of the students, which contributed to the decay in infrastructure.
“This is why parents now prefer where their children can get all what they need, they don’t mind suffering to send them to good schools,” he said.
In Akure, Mr Michael Adeyanju, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Ondo State, said that teachers were recruited last in the state in 2007.
He said that such development would not augur well for the sector.
Adeyanju noted the secondary school education system in the state had become rotten, adding that the state of infrastructure in the system was below average.
“In fact, almost all the secondary schools in Ondo State are already decayed, the present state is poor; we do not have teachers.
“The population of teachers to students is grossly inadequate. No laboratories, no halls, no seats except in some few schools assisted by parents.
“The declaration of the state of emergency is long overdue, but the only area that is fair is the payment of teachers’ salaries,” he said.
The ANCOPSS chairman said that something urgent must be done to rescue the system out of comatose, calling on the state government to inject money into it for the benefit of the future generation.
Similarly, Mr Dayo Adebiyi, the state Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), decried acute shortage of teachers in the state public schools.
“It is our belief that the state government will intervene in the messy situation of infrastructure in our public schools and except quick action is taken, the situation may become worse.
“The number of teachers we have is dwindling and there is no doubt that new hands are needed to help the government to achieve its education objectives.
“The fact remains that the number of teachers, who are doing the job currently is grossly inadequate and this makes learning process to be difficult.
“Our school buildings are in a very sorry state though, some have been renovated but the state government must urgently do the needful,” he saiod.
In Ado-Ekiti, Gov. Kayode Fayemi-led newly inaugurated administration had vowed to return the lost glory of education in the state by investing genuinely in the development of infrastructure in all public schools.
Mr Yinka Oyebode, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, told NAN that human capital development and advancement of education would form part of the five cardinal objectives of the administration.
Oyebode recalled that during Fayemi’s first term in office, he declared “Operation Renovate All Schools” during which 100, out of the state’s 183 public secondary schools were renovated at the cost of N1.9 billion.
He disclosed that the administration constructed new 300 classrooms and also renovated 436 others in Primary and Junior secondary schools across the state.
Besides, he said the government rehabilitated the electrical workshop Government Science College, Ado Ekiti as well as provided infrastructure to all primary schools in the state at a cost of N55m.
“We also introduced ICT to students in secondary schools through its one Laptop per student’ policy, while 33,000 solar laptops were distributed under the programme.
“The administration procured furniture for students and their teachers at a cost of N600m and provided instructional materials to primary schools at a cost of N55m,” he said.
Oyebode said 16 project vehicles and 400 motorcycles were equally supplied to the schools for effective monitoring.
He, howevetted that most of its legacies were not properly maintained by the administration that succeeded it.
The chief press secretary assured that by the time the 2019 budget would be ready, some of the lost grounds would .