It was a stinker, when Edo State Government last week, during a town hall meeting, opened a can of worms from the archive.The unpalatable stench filled the air ; the venue where Governor Adams Oshiomhole gathered his audience to unveil a rigorous investigation and audit report of Primary Schools in the State.
The report not only revealed massive falsification of age of primary school teachers in the state public schools but also showed that 789 teachers out of 1,379 obtained their primary school leaving certificates before the age of 8 or 9. Isn’t this incredible?
Oshiomhole, who needed to be assisted by the ICT Managing Director, Mrs. Yemi Keri went further to reveal how more fragmented the society had degenerated than our forefathers could have ever imagined.
The schism is so intense that if immediate corrective steps are not taken, God forbid, the state may see even more turbulent times as exemplified in his Baker and Bread philosophy.
The writing on the wall is clear for all to read that if the baker of the bread wants everyone in the society dead, all he needed do was to add a pinch of deadly substance in the flour and the deed is done.
The catastrophe, no doubt would be debilitating with a higher degree of causalities, if we compare the teacher who sows bad knowledge on the pupils to the baker.
According to Walter Scott, “The best part of man’s education is that which he gives to himself”. If these primary school teachers had done disservice to themselves,Oshiomhole cannot worsen it for them because, nothing can be deadly than turning blind eyes to a critical sector that makes a man.
Often times, most of the columnists, social critics, commentators, analysts and writers in the country focused most of their attention on the leadership problems bedeviling the state or the nation, leaving out the sector that determines what entire generations become to fend for itself.
It is no longer news that the nation’s standard of education has nosedived, but it has become terribly messier than what anybody can imagine today, if the investigation by Edo State Government is anything to go by.
Left to Oshiomhole, the current framework under which the state and the country at large is being run will not take her any forward, even if it is allowed to continue, for another 100 years.
Though, he allayed teachers’ fear of possible mass sack but stated that he needed to get all stakeholders alerted on the issue so as to find a lasting solution to the malaise.
Oshiomhole’s thrust is a complete change of primary school system.
While reeling out the staggering figures, it was self-evident that Edo State is confronted with the inevitable consequences of our collective lethargy and indifference as we swing from euphoria to nostalgia and back again desperately trying to come to terms with the nightmare in which our state is trapped.
He assured again, “we must not despair,” government found that of all it’s primary school teachers, only 1,287 representing 9% out of 14,484 teachers have proper and accurate records in it’s system. 91% have various forms of discrepancies in their records.
The governor said about 1,379 teachers representing 11.5% claim that they obtained their primary school certificates after they had been employed as teachers. In fact, some obtained their primary school certificates not more than two years ago, from the school in which they were employed as teachers.
And the question is whether they went to Teachers’ Training College or obtained National Certificate of Education (NCE) before they went to Primary School.
These are facts that have been well documented just as “It would not be helpful to the cause of education and our resolve to deliver quality education to our pupils if we do not deal with this issue decisively”, Oshiomhole explained.
The Governor who reeled out statistics on the teachers-student ratio in all the Local Governments in the State said the average of 30 students per teacher in the State is much lower than the UNESCO recommendation on student-teacher ratio, saying this might mean that there are more teachers in the State primary schools than needed.
From the audit, the Governor said there were more female teachers than male teachers in the State and that “in some cases, we have more female pupils in schools than male and that is very encouraging, because some States, are still battling with how to get their female children to school, but that is not the case in Edo.”
He also noted that “as a result of the steps we have taken to restore confidence and integrity to our Public Schools, there has been a steady increase in enrollment in Public Junior Secondary Schools in the State.
The Governor also said that monies arising from the exit of teachers by way of voluntary resignation, death, and otherwise were not visible, adding that Edo people can not shy away from the truth.
He noted that “a school with all the necessary infrastructure without qualified teachers is like an empty hall.
“Finally, as it is often said: “Successful men without successors are saboteurs”, the fight to restore dignity and respect to our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions should not be viewed as one man’s fight, but, it should be viewed as a fight thrown at all men of goodwill in the nation.
Mr. Eric Onivefu is a teacher in a private school in Edo State and a public affairs analyst.