The State Of Education In Northern Nigeria, By Hafsah Muhammad Lalo
I was scrolling down my timeline on twitter when I came across a group of guys arguing over something that caught my attention; that universities in northern Nigeria accept 140 as cut-off marks. I stopped by and told them that it is a lie and anyone who says so should come forward with the name of such universities. I was annoyed but later asked myself; why all the accusations? A voice inside me told me that it might be true, for the north lags behind in education. I realized that I could not deny this because this is more than a fact now—it is a truth. It is a common knowledge that the north is lagging behind academically, but it is also a lie that northern universities accept 140 as cut-off marks, I believe.
Coincidentally, a friend of mine sent me the analysis of 2014 WAEC results through whatsApp and that is what prompted writing this piece. Looking at the current state of things and the available data on the ground, you can’t help but say the future is at stake if we don’t wake up from our slumber and pull our weight.
The overall performance across the country was poor but that of the north, especially the far north, was pathetic. The state with the highest performance was Kaduna with 36.38% which was apparently, unimpressive too. Eight out of the country’s thirty seven states (including the FCT) recorded a less than 10% score. All these states are from the north. They include: Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Sokoto, Gombe, Jigawa, Zamfara and Kebbi states. Although there was a slight improvement of performance in 2015, it was also not worth celebrating.
Our educational problem is not from our children, the youth, lack the brains or the enthusiasm. The lion share of this blame will always go to our leaders. They have destroyed our educational sector; diverted the money meant for education into their personal pockets and sent their children to study abroad, while they use the masses as political and religious thugs for their campaigns and so on.
However, from what we have read and heard about our past Arewa leaders, the like of Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, among others; may Allah rest their souls, amin. Those erstwhile gentlemen contributed immensely towards the development of education in the region. They did everything within their powers to ensure that the then Arewa youth have gotten a qualitative education. Unfortunately, our present leaders have failed to emulate them, far worse, they have failed them.
Nevertheless, they say, it is better late than never. So if our present leaders will do anything to alleviate this issue that has been bedeviling our region for a very long time now, they should institute a scholarship board for sponsoring the Northern youths and children that are less privileged. They should employ passionate teachers, as a large number of the ones we have today are only there because they could not find employment of their choices, which is also another problem. The government should make teachers welfare a priority by, among other things, paying them decent salaries and on time. The government should also improve the standard of our primary and secondary schools by providing good learning materials, well equipped laboratories and libraries for effective learning. The value of teaching as a job should be rejuvenated in our societies.
Our private entrepreneurs, on the other hand, should invest in primary and secondary schools, combined with Madarasa and make them affordable for the masses. This will allow them improve the northerners educationally on both sides because the focus on western education is another issue, but I will save that story for another day.
In conclusion, I am not pessimistic at all about our current sorry state. I have high hopes and dreams that we could achieve metamorphosis from our present situation. Because we have every desirable potential; we have the brains which no psychologist can underrate; we have the fashion and passion for education. What we lack is the motivation of our leaders. Arewa can be rescued and repositioned. It’s never too late!