Coming into NYSC offers every youth corps member a unique opportunity to contribute in no small measure to the healing of the nation. For a country so in need of healers and crack menders like ours, the injection of hundreds of thousands of young bloods into mostly primary and secondary schools to join hands in wiping ignorance off the society; hospitals to join health workers in sending the angel of death back to heaven; farms in order to help crude farmers bring agriculture to 21st century; etcetera, remains as a major lifeblood of the nation.
While this opportunity might be viewed as lacking in merit to most urban dwellers, no one would deny the far-reaching impacts youth corps members have on the lives of the people in the rural areas. In my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) for instance, there are presently eleven of us who augment the efforts of the permanent staff. If NYSC is scrapped today, schools across the nation, especially in the rural areas would exist only in name. (This is a major reason why those clamouring for the scrapping of the scheme ought to help the government with skillful alternatives in order not to further send us back to the trenches).
It is in keeping with this tradition of making the scheme worthwhile that prompted the local government inspector (LGI) of my community to add a new Community Development Service (CDS) to the previous two – Environmental Protection and Sanitation Group, and Road Safety Group – we had. The new CDS – Education Development Group – which covers mass literacy, adult education, extra murals and ICT is aimed at enhancing the education standard of the host community, provide career guidance, and counseling for students.
According to the May 2015 edition of the “ABC of Community Development Service,” the activities of the members of the Education Development Group include “campaign against illiteracy, organising extra-mural classes for adults, and organising of in-school programmes.”
Although a welcome development, especially to me having queried why such CDS never existed in such an educationally disadvantaged community, the euphoria was short-lived as two guys from amongst us were nominated to head the group.
“Let’s do some voting,” says the LGI.
“Can I say a few things before the election?” I asked.
“Go ahead.” The LGI acquiesced.
“Sir, as a graduate of education (Mathematics), I strongly suggest that whosoever is to head an important group as this should at least have basic knowledge in the field of education; and since we’ve got them in abundance here, I’m of the opinion that one of them be made to head the group.
“This is important given the enormous task and responsibilities that rest on the shoulder of the team. For instance, what skill does a graduate of engineering have to plan an adult literacy program, or an accounting graduate in the organization of a formal extra mural class?”
Having reasoned along my line of argument, he asked the two nominees about their specializations.
“Geography,” the first guy replied.
The other, has a BSc. in Estate Management.
After some deliberations, the house asked the status quo to remain under the premise that the education students would give their maximum support and professional experiences to either of them who emerge as the head.
It is this contempt for educational standards and professionalism that has brought Nigerian education to the very nadir it occupies at the moment. For the country seems to turn a blind eye to the very fact that if teaching was an all-comers’ affair, there would have been no need having Colleges of Education and Faculties of Education in our various universities wherein the art and science of teaching and learning are taught.
Although the situation extends to several facets of our national life, none is as blatant as that of the education sector which unfortunately has been met with a lip approach from the various authorities charged with the mandate of setting standards, regulating, recruiting and training of teachers.
Like the life of a man whose actions and inactions are guided by a combination of what the psychologists call “nature” and “nurture,” the measure of the effectiveness of a teacher is a sum-total of “content (knowledge of the subject matter)” and “training (methodology).”
And this is where Nigeria missed it because while a graduate of computer engineering has as much knowledge of mathematics as a holder of B.Ed. (mathematics) does – unless he gets a crash program in education – he would only teach the subject to the unfortunate kids without the requisite philosophy behind what he imparts, the importance of order in the topics he teaches, and the wisdom behind the objectives of each lesson.
Ask him the rationale behind the compulsoriness of mathematics in primary and secondary schools.
Ask him about the importance of teaching aids (instructional materials).
Pester him on the wisdom in teaching with a detailed, up-to-date lesson plan.
What about the reasoning behind the vetting of students’ notes, giving of classwork and assignments?
He does not know.
He doesn’t because while professional teachers were being exposed to the breakdown and systematic logic behind the history of education, why we teach, how we teach, where we teach, when we teach, who we teach, and every concept needed to ensure meaningful learning, he was busy balancing some accounts that probably belonged to a dead man.
He does not because he sees the noble profession as a last resort which he took up due to the lack of job placement in his field of study. That is why the teaching profession has been reduced to a tragedy wherein teachers get paid to mis-educate the students.
And while this goes on unabated, we continue to feign ignorance of the right approaches needed to combat this unfortunate malice that has produced and continues to produce an ocean of primary school leaving certificate holders who find it difficult to write, secondary school leavers whom 70% of them fail out annually, and a mass of at least 1.5 million graduates whose lecturers boast of lecture notes of pre-Gates programming techniques.
What could make the Oil and Gas industries, the construction companies, and a host of other firms scout for high performing students and best graduating ones from their respective fields while private school owners and the various ministries of education across the country continue to subject the future of our young citizens to any Tom, Dick and Harry? Throughout my university days, never for once did I come across an employer making a request of this kind from my faculty.
Even as teachers have become endangered species and economic casualties in the country (Basic school teachers are on strike in Kwara state), I make bold to say we still got several individuals who would reject a million naira offer for some modest amount in teaching. Although very few, I was lucky to meet some of them in the university.
Abdussalam Amoo and Yusuf Muraino of English Education, Yusuf Arikewuyo and Tajudeen Tijani of Physics Education, Jenyo Kofoworola and Olakunle Fafunwa of Mathematics Education, Motunrayo Ogunfowora of Adult Education, Elvis Boniface of Early Childhood Education are just few names who shunned other courses to pick education as their first choices in their JAMB forms.
Yours truly also made the list.
This is the direction the president needs to look in his drive to recruit 500,000 teachers.
Falae’s Foray In Search Of Omoluabi
Of all the beneficiaries of the Nigerian Father Xmas, Mr. Olu Falae has been the most rattled.
As soon as his name was mentioned, he swiftly came out to explain his side of the story.
I read how he took the gospel to his church where he received some boos.
Falae does this because he knows the kind of people he’s dealing with. He knows that no single Yoruba man – save the bastard – would raise a single cardboard to protest about what some people protest about.
The people (his people) in the church did not ask him to go and sin no more, they took him to the cleaners. I doubt if Baba Falae has been sleeping well ever since.
He can’t because one of the things an average Yoruba man (who isn’t a bastard) can kill his child for is theft.
Baba Falae knows this.
That is why he has been running “upandan” explaining his involvement in the Dasukigate.
It’s what Yorubas’ call “omoluabi” that chases him.
At his age, he would rather live forever protecting his omoluabi than go six feet without it.
May the bastards among the descendants of Oduduwa find their rightful fathers.
May Chief Falae find his Omoluabi.
Modiu Olaguro, a youth corps member, teaches mathematics at Jebba.