Yes The Right Antibiotic May Always Taste Bitter: El-Rufai Versus Kaduna Teachers, By Abdulkadir Abdulkadir
Across the world, there are about 617 million children and adolescents at primary and junior secondary levels that are not achieving proficiency in reading and basic mathematics; the minimum literacy scale set by the UNESCO.
Sub-Saharan Africa hosts the highest percentage with at least 202 million of such population, translating to about 9 out of every 10 children between the ages of 6 and 14. This number is a combination of both out of school children as well victims of poor quality education.
These statistics may be just a tip of the ice berg, in northern part of Nigeria as we home the highest out of school children and rated lowest in quality of education.
To say quality of education in Nigeria especially here in the north is at its lowest ebb is an understatement. The story of the teachers whom the fate of our little children lie upon is nothing but a disappointment.
I have had interactions with teachers and was opportune to be part of a teachers’ upgrade training, so I can authoritatively state that some teachers are not only unqualified but are absolutely not TRAINABLE. A teacher must have attained a certain level of aptitude to be able to receive retraining. Unfortunately, the same teachers are also products of our decades of decayed public education system. Yes, Public Education.
While the children of the elites are gracefuly learning from their qualified but under-paid private school teachers, public school teachers are paid only to corrupt the virgin minds of the children of the less privileged.
Thus creating an army of schooled-illiterates with no skills to guarantee future productivity. Hence the choice to either ignore the multiplier effect of growing a cycle of poverty that will continue to increase as the population of the poor is increasing exponentially while their rich counterparts are busy planning their families.
Sacking hundreds of teachers is a painful and hard decision for a political administrator, but what makes a good leader akin to a doctor prescribing bitter but effective pills is his ability to take difficult but necessary decisions even when it posses negative effect on the leader’s political fortunes.
Although the effect to the state economy is near neutral since there is no statistical difference between jobs loss and jobs created rather a probability of at least getting 10 000 business start ups among the sacked teachers that are due for retirement benefits.
To demonstrate that, a little maths will do.
I was thought by a very good mathematics teacher (in a public school though) that minus one plus one equals zero or (-1)+(+1) =0. So should Kaduna state government disengage 22 000 under-qualified teachers and replace them with another 22 000 qualified teachers, it will translate into no direct effect on job loss/creation. And if they add a few thousands in the event of replacement, they will be counting the marginal figure as pluses.
It amazes me how people scream on top of their voices that 22,000 under-qualified teachers were penciled for sack while turning blind eyes on over a million children taught by these very unqualified teachers. Having access to school is one thing and having the minimum education from same school is another. These poor and enthusiastic children going to school every day but not learning to read and solve basic mathematics are not achieving standard literacy level. How does an attempt to improve the quality of education become an ‘Anti-poor’ policy? Who is more vulnerable, the under qualified teachers or little children?
Civil service in Nigeria is unfortunately considered a form of social security net that serves only to guarantee food on our tables ‘hanyan cin abinci’ rather than career made of professionals for state services. What ever happens, what ever wrong you may do, what ever money you divert, what ever abuse you may have done, you hardly loose a job working for any tier of government. Not even education, security and health sectors are not free of under-qualified personnel.
Until we start to see the education sector as a pillar of sustainable development and work towards overhauling the system in totality for improved productivity as Africa’s must populous country, we will be converting potential human resources for development into potential liability.
And achieving Goal 4 (High Quality Education for All) of the Sustainable Development Goals will remain a mirage. It is arguable but established; educational attainment of a country’s population determines her GDP.
Abdulkadir S. Abdulkadir is an advocate of social justice wrote from Bauchi, Nigeria.