In the southern part of Nigeria, especially South-East and South-South a growing trend is fast hemorrhaging the value of education to death. In fact, it has become so bad that in some private and public schools, they have to field only one fifth of their students for WAEC and NECO examinations. The remaining students have crossed over to River Jordan where they can get their WAEC/NECO in one sitting. This academic River Jordan manifests in different shades: glorified private secondary schools, lesson centres and miracle exam centres.
This proliferation of one-sitting centres have become one of the greatest albatrosses militating against quality education in Nigeria lately. The resultant effect of this is: students no longer see the need to read, they see these external exams as one big joke and they learn the culture of shortcut at an early stage of their lives. What makes this development more worrisome is nowadays, students no longer repeat classes. Once they come back home with a report card that has ‘Repeat’, their parents quickly remove the child from the school and register the child in another school where the blockhead will continue with his supposed peers. Because of this, schools – especially the private schools – find it hard to make their students repeat, because a withdrawal of their student means a loss of one customer.
The rationale of seeing education from the jaundiced lenses of business has made this trend a tough luck. What do I mean? Parents believe if a child repeats, it will be paying more school fees in this period school fees figures are placed permanently inside the fattening room. Most parents believe that in this era where former impossibilities are now possible, it is sheer stupidity to waste hard earned money and time in sitting for an exam through due process. Since what matters is the certificate. And thereafter, an uncle or aunty somewhere will help the blockhead get a job. Even if the scenario does not play out that way, in any case, the blockhead has become a graduate. On the other hand, the schools are not ready to be put out of business because of some blockheads. Since the blockheads will eventually go to special centres to take their external exams. Therefore, the school will escape the ugly label of schools where students do no make their WAEC.
Methinks, it high time the government looked into the activities of some private schools. Many of them parade a litany of half-baked teachers; while some are filled with lactating housewives who are tired of staying at home, women who are not passionate about knowledge, but, see teaching as the only job that gives them time. What can I say about some private schools that are filled with first school leaving certificate holders, whom they pay peanuts? To some of these private schools, all they see education is from the business angle. Therefore, once time for external exams comes, they bribe the external examiner who looks the other way, why these cheaters, sorry teachers, supply answers to the students. With time, the school becomes popular for producing good WAEC results, and news will spread, resulting in other parents bringing their wards over to the school. And the school proprietor can then smile to the bank and abroad for summer vacations.
More so, I think it’s time the government stops all forms of lesson centres. The menace this one-sitting centres pose to the society cannot be overemphasized. One of the dangers that await our nation, apart from the depreciation of values, is soon this upcoming generation will have nothing good to transfer to posterity. As C.S Lewis succinctly put it: None can give to another what it has not got… if we are skeptical, we shall teach only skepticism to our pupils, if fools only folly, if vulgar only vulgarity, if saints sanctity, if heroes heroism… we shall agree that a man who knows no Greek himself cannot teach Greek to his form: but it is equally certain that a man whose mind was formed in a period of cynicism and disillusion, cannot teach hope or fortitude.
Now, I think with the above extrapolation, the future looks bleak for our nation. It is better imagined than explained what these young students who will become future cheaters, I mean, teachers will teach their students. I guess there is a possibility that in the nearest future, we will see instances of a father who will ask to be excused by the exam invigilator in order for them to hand over ‘micro chips’ to his child, or of a mother pinging answers to her children. If our present parents have no shame in registering their children in special centres, is it not clear the children will outdo their parents. After all, an African proverb states: We give birth so that our children will fight and win those battles we have failed to win. This means our children will become a bigger version of us. What a tragedy.
The Ghanaian preacher, Mensah Otabil posits: The strength of any nation is not in the wealth of its natural resources but in the wisdom of its people. I believe this finally explains why we are where we are as a nation. If despite our tremendous natural resources – some which are still untapped – and we have 75 percent of our graduates loitering our streets, then it means we are foolish. And foolishness is a state of ignorance, while ignorance is deficiency in adequate knowledge. And inadequate knowledge is a state of deformity which occurs whenever one tries to cut corners or fast track natural growth processes.
For those ambitious parents that register their wards or children in all these mushroom special centres, I leave this illustration. Your love is like the love the poultry farmer has for his egg which is cracking, he tries to save the chick from pain and breaks the egg shell, only for the chick to grow and become deformed and invariably a bad market for the farmer. Moral: The easiest way to destroy or truncate your child’s future is by helping him via short cuts.
For good citizens of Nigerian, I enjoin you all to keep shouting till our government gives these special centres red card. Quality education is the ONLY way Nigeria can come out from her present quagmire, if we pay lip service to it or decide to send our children abroad, please endeavor they remain abroad because, if they ever come back, these children, who grew while we looked the other way as they turned bad, will threaten their peace. And, if they do not return, the atrocities these poorly educated Nigerians will commit will always be a minus, a bad label, for every Nigeria in diaspora. Is it not time we declare an educational emergency?
May GOD open our eyes of understanding.