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OYO101: How Makinde’s Cosmetic Approach To Education Backfired | Muftau Gbadegesin
As at May 29, 2019, the number of out-of-school children in Oyo state had reached a dizzying and record breaking 400, 000; making Oyo state 7th in the hierarchy of that infamous National index. Given the urgency and exigency of that time, Governor Seyi Makinde, in his inaugural speech expressed worry and concern over the growing number of school children vulnerable and susceptible to crimes, hooliganism, gangsterism, bad and destructive elements capable of posing existential threats to the peaceful and harmonious co-existence of the people in the society. In order to stem that ugly tide, the Governor quietly rolled out his education policy, one that will among other things first take the children out of the street back to the school.
In a sense, the level of optimism, enthusiasm and realism expressed by the Governor and anchored on his policy framework gave a jolt of hope in the administration’s readiness to chart a new course and restore the pace setting glory of education in the state. And to demonstrate his readiness, the Governor happily announced the abrogation of the payment of the previously imposed three thousand naira (3000) levies on secondary school students across the state; thus making a clear statement about his determination to provide free, quality, and accessible education across the state nooks and crannies.
Similarly, the administration also went ahead to disband the lofty School Governing Board (SGB), an initiative of his predecessor regime geared towards ensuring smooth and inclusive running of school administration (surprisingly, this same government is thinking about restoring SGB!). And for the first few months of GSM regime, the running of schools went smoothly with little hiccups. Not surprisingly, the smooth running of schools was also achieved partly because of the increase in the state workforce where about 5,000 teachers were recruited by the teaching service commission (TESCOM) despite its administrative malfeasance. This and other backdoor scheming influenced the performance of the state in external examinations such as WAEC and NECO to name just two.
In addition, the prompt and regular payment of teachers salary, welfare packages and emoluments also confirmed the Governor’s keen knowledge of the enormous challenges facing the all important sector in the state. And for a while, it seems all was well with education in the state. Because plainly, the policy thrust championed by the state was pretty simple; which therefore made it easy for the government handlers to shout Governor’s name and ask for his praise. Added to this is the payment of pensions to retired civil servants in the state, a feat that’s now been considered legendary in the anal of the state civil service when compared with the commitment and seriousness of his predecessors.
While the government was basking in the glow of its newfound achievement in education, it didn’t take long before cracks started to surface in its educational edifice thereby unsettling the regime while opening floodgates of criticism at the regime intent and strives toward restoring education in the state a la GSM effect on education. Due in part to its cosmetic approach to education, and the kind of diagnosis and treatment considered too technical, one devoid of curative and adaptive mechanism, the cracks exemplified by students coping examination questions from chalkboards, to answering questions on plain sheets of paper and school running out of funds were all too predictable and transparently obvious.
In a way, politicians knew fixing education at one fell of a swoop is hard. And that setting eyes on the long term goals might be counterproductive to their political future. Plus where the intention is genuinely sincere and purely altruistic, the little tyranny of bureaucracy seems designed to smother lofty initiative and stifle its progress. Added to the little tyranny of bureaucracy is politicians obsession with re-election. These twin monsters among others continue to make curative and adaptive approaches to education a long, windy and tough battle.
Put together, the various policy framework introduced by this regime are not in themselves bad. As a matter of fact, cancelling imposed levies, recruitment of teachers, prompt payment of their salary among others are by far the most icing on the cake. In the absence of statistics, one is still certain the number of out-of-school children in the state has reduced drastically; same way teachers morale and motivation toward their jobs have in essence dramatically increased.
But fixing education goes beyond cosmetic and superficial understanding of the problems; a deeply rooted problem requires a deeply rooted solution. Which implies that the first in the series of way out of this conundrum is the right diagnosis of the problem; because only a right diagnosis can bring about the right treatment. And that’s why at a superficial and surface level, the state performance at external examinations have provided some glimmer of hope but deep down, it is nothing but a facade.
Here is the catch: the ubiquitous nature of examination malpractice has rattled educationist for years. It is a well-known phenomenon that all stakeholders are complicit in this shady acts and for an effective solution, all hands must be on deck.
And in this regard, government will again have to lead from the front through sheer readiness and commitments. Plus only a top-down approach will put an end to the rot in education in the state particularly and Nigeria in general. As one teacher quixotically explained: Government want students to pass by all means without malpractices of any kind – that’s possible if their jobs are not on the line. In other words, this current government despite its disdain for past administration has mastered the art of boxing teachers to aid students in their exams by all means. This in turn has made students lazy, and academically weak, the result of which is before everyone to see.
Furthermore, this subtle and counterintuitive art of forcing teachers to help students in their examinations has also created a retinue of dispirited, discouraged and demoralized teachers who only work to feed their stomachs and not to teach in a way that touch students cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.
But regardless what this government may want to force down the throats of unsuspecting populace about the inside story of state owned schools and the rise in their performances, here is the reality: students know teachers are at their perils if they fail to teach and help them in their examinations. And teachers also know their jobs are in jeopardy if students fail their subjects, it is here the cosmetic approach to education by the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde hit a brick wall. And it is curative and adaptive solutions can take steam.
OYO101, Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion on issues affecting Oyo State, is published on Saturdays. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and 09065176850.