Saturday, September 15, 2012


When a crisis hits a vast institution it can seem reasonable to say that the task of handling the crisis falls mainly to the institution itself. It must regroup and survive, or else fail and collapse. But things change when there is evidence of criminal activity and of efforts to hide it. At that point it becomes urgent for everybody including good people inside the institution, to let daylight in and expose wrongdoing without hesitation to outside authorities.

All that might seem obvious, but for some of those at the helm of affairs of Nigeria's primary education system for three decades now,  a call to order has yet to be made. Instead of fully accepting mismanagement of that sector, they keep shifting blames on one another.

As worrisome as it may be, that Nigeria still spend less than 9% of her annual budget on education - the mainstay of an economy, the share for primary education expenditure remains at 36%, which is much lower than that accross the continent- 48%. As at 2008, the total primary classrooms was 319,590, while total primary schools was 54,434 and total school teachers at 586,930. What does these figures tell us ? an average of 10 teachers per school, average of 70 primary schools in each local government area. The latter seem encouraging, however the distribution might be skewed, and in this part of the world, the large numbers of classrooms wouldn't matter, it is the impact those four walls will have on the pupils that pass through it, this is worsened by the "mushroom" schools, also called private primary schools that  has taken over the country.
A Primary School with their teachers in Nigeria

According to the World Bank Data, Nigeria primary education witnesses a decline in % net enrollment of pupils, with 65% in 2007 and 58% in 2010. One might ask, why the decline? In neighbouring Benin, 89% enrolled in 2008 compared to 94% in 2010, Ghana also is encouraging its primary education sector growing from 72% in 2007 to 84% in 2011. Despite the incentives been given to lure children into school, the number seems to be decreasing. However, in as much as education isn't free in Nigeria at this primary level, parents will still have an excuse of not sending their wards to school. It is good to know that some states like Imo, Ogun has started thinking in this direction- the northern governors are  should take  cue from this development.

Nevertheless, as 100% enrollment and free primary education might sound sexy, the quality of knowledge acquired from this institutions should be at par with the numbers. One might ask? Where does quality starts? The number of trained teachers in these primary schools in Nigeria still hangs at 66% in 2010, and when compared to other African countries such as Kenya with an average of 98% between 2009 and 2007; Rwanda with an average of 95% for years now; Togo, one of our neighbouring countries that in 2007 has 15% now has 77% of trained teachers in 2010. Between 2007 and 2011, Burundi and Tanzania has averaged 89% and 100% respectively of trained teachers in their primary schools. Can one give what he doesn't have? It's is quite obvious that priority should be given to the re-training of primary school teachers in Nigeria.

Nevertheless, as the NERDC (Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council) introduces the new curriculum ( an headache for the three tiers of schooling in Nigeria) for primary schooling in Nigeria, the institution that is responsible for training of teachers, should be strengthened with qualifiied trainers. When an institution needs cleansing, a times it should be revamped! To put it kindly, whoever has upheld those curriculum for the past decades must be out of touch with reality that is now catching up with the education ministry.

While universal primary education is important (Togo, Burundi, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tanzania have achieved or/are nearing the goal -MDG reports 2011), much value will be added through quality education. When  a country wants to become an economic power in the near future, it is not by "time travel", it builds capacity of her human resources!

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