“Made in China” education drives Nigerians to study overseas

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Many Nigerians have unnerved views that the education industry is supposed to be one of the biggest industries in the country. If the successive governments have harnessed the industry very well, it stands to earn the country about $300b per annum.

Those in this line of scrutiny are of the outlook that not even the National Seminar in 1973, which led to the formulation of National Policy on Education in 1977, revised in 1981, and the introduction of the universal primary education (UPE) in 1976, have helped the country’s education sufficiently.

Gasping for ways to improve on the country’s education, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) was later launched formally by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria on 30th September, 1999. The UBE was aimed at making education reachable and making all citizens literate by the year 2010. But Nigerians are today in 2016!

On March 14 2016, in Abuja, while making his address at the 2016 Commonwealth Day Celebration, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu assured Nigerians that the government was committed to achieving the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); an expansion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by governments in 2001, which came to an end in 2015.

Without doubt, many richest Nigerians have queued on the weakness of the following governments to establish schools as part of their own measures to foster the needed qualitative education that Nigeria seeks. And they are tapping from this no matter the “Made-in-China” education they render to their patronizers. China is known for low quality products! The big chasm in the Nigeria’s education system, the citizens are looking elsewhere to attain sound education.

Spending heavily to study abroad

The pillars of Nigeria were dazed when the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Senator Binta Masi on February 9 2016, in Abuja, during the official Commissioning of Federal University of Lafia, FUL, to the Nigeria Research and Education Network, NgREN, said that Nigerians spend $2bn on school fees abroad.

Many Nigerians focused their attention on the huge sum of money mentioned and flummoxed. The Senator was horror-struck, adding that it was unnecessary that Nigerians even travel to other African countries to get educated.

Her position was that the country was at the peak of getting the research and education network right. Conversely, some Nigerians contradicted the views of the Senator and said that it’s a pity that Nigerians are travelliing out in droves to get qualitative education elsewhere. But they do not have other option due to the fact that majority of the public schools in the country – from kindergarten to tertiary level – do not even have working hostels, which they enjoy in schools across the shores of the country.

Reason for the exodus abroad

Checks have revealed that no matter the measures that the government is putting in place to stop the trend of exodus of Nigerians to study abroad, it is a tall dream to stop them because Nigerians, who have schooled overseas, did not experience unremitting strikes that preceptors and their unions embark on in Nigeria, which congealed many academic sessions in the recent past.

Specialists have said that there are inadequate teacher educations, betrayed quality assurance in the area of class dimension, minute number of teachers and tutorial objects, laughable governance of schools, zero execution of Schools Management Committees (SMCs), insufficient budgetary for education, low incentives for teachers, and so on.

Budget and Grades watered down

In May 2013, Sarki Mallam-Madori, a public affairs analyst argued in inference, saying, “From 1997 and 2000 statistics show that federal government expenditure on education was below 10% of overall expenditure. It noticed that, the national expenditure on education cannot be computed because various states expenditure on education cannot be determined, in relation to the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of national budgets.”

In an appearance in July 2014, the Rector, Olawoyin Awosika School of Innovative Studies, Prof Abiola Awosika showed remorse that the education in the country is going down by the day, of which students’ grades are lowered in order to see if they could measure up with the trend, whereas it should not have been so.

She pointed out that the flight of solid curricula in the universities and colleges of education that were supposed to build up people is a big blow. Prof Awosika said, “We lowered the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) scores again this year; 180 for universities and 130 for colleges of education and polytechnics.”

Education killed by politicians

A Nigerian who wouldn’t like the name in print said that the schools in the country have been wrecked by apparent corrupt leaders. And this has led to the malfunctioning of other government agencies.

There are other factors that those in this line of thought said are imminent why Nigerians will not stop from travelling to overseas for studies. They include paying for the handouts of lecturers to get more points in tests and exams of which any students that did not abide by the dictate risks being delayed to graduate by his or her lecturer.

Some Nigerians who could not afford the money to study abroad drop out of school. There are situations where lecturers and students are cultists, details have opined. And the apparent cultists threaten the welfare of others who are not members. Many Nigerians argued that if the Senator was frowning about Nigerians studying abroad, perhaps, due to the exorbitant money they pay to get admission in the schools abroad, the private schools in Nigeria are even worse.

Private schools couldn’t help

Nigerians said that the private schools in Nigeria, unchangingly, collect huge sum of money from Nigerians without showing same in academic impartation. Only “Made in China” education!

The worry is that due to the economic harshness that many homes are going through, the effort by parents to keep their children in schools is unwholesome. A school of thought said that it does not see the rationale in spending huge sums of money that amount to hundreds of thousands per a term for a toddler in the Nigerian private nursery or elementary schools, whereas he or she would be meeting in the same university with those that went to public schools and most times, the toddler is just empty in head.

U.S. Department of Education vs. Nigeria’s

There are insinuations that apart from the supposed mal-functional hostels that majority of the schools across the country run, the scientific laboratories in virtually all the schools are like artifacts in the museum.

The blame has been heaped on the successive governments in the country, because statistics have shown that the workforce in Nigeria is not in the dearth. Lecturers from Nigeria excel in other worlds where they are exposed to the necessary amenities that include power, technology, conducive environment and sundry.

But Buhari, represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Akaneren Essien, while delivering a message at the 2014/2015, and 29th convocation ceremony of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), held at the school’s Abraham Odia Stadium, swaggered that N500 billion was allocated to the education sector in the 2016 federal budget. He described this as the highest so far allocated to the sector in the country.

Buhari said: “The 2016 budgetary provision of N500 billion for the education sector is the highest so far, and it is our desire to apply every kobo in this budget to deal with various need of our universities to ensure that they become more globally competitive.”

On-the-contrary, the USA federal government allocated approximately $154 billion on education in fiscal year 2015. Going by the programmes administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which appear in two separate parts in the USA budget, critics have said the statements made by Buhari at the occasion were mere politics and charade compared to what obtains in the USA budget for Department of Education.

Suggestions

Nigerians are of the judgment that the schools in the country would have been the best in the world if the country had used its resources meant for the education sector judiciously and ban political-leaders from sending their wards to school abroad.

The Executive Secretary, Kogi State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), Mallam Nuhu Ahmed was of a view that the Change mantra of Major General Muhammadu Buhari administration will amount to an exercise in futility if the education sector is not bettered.

At five-day training on December 14 2015, for quality assurance officers organised by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the state SUBEB with the theme “Strengthening the Capacity of Quality Assurance officers for Improved Quality Delivery” in Lokoja, Ahmed said, “Nigeria cannot develop without quality education.”

Ahmed squabbled, saying that the country will be measured by the qualitative education it gets; and how quality the country’s basic education is will form the bedrock of the educational harvest of the country.

He added, “The dream of a change in Nigeria will be a mirage if there are no quality teachers in the schools. The need for qualitative basic education delivery must be intensified by the government because without quality teachers there cannot be quality product amongst the students.”

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Writer and Consultant; he writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

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University graduates in Nigeria resort to vocational education as grammar has failed

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Investigations have revealed that majority of university graduates face in the labour market what they didn’t learn in school. This is creating a heated argument that the curriculum – 6,3,3,4 system of education – is not really structured for the Nigerian system.

Accordingly, the society is in dearth of skilled technicians like bricklayers, carpenters, painters and auto mechanics; laboratory and pharmacy technicians, electrical/electronic technicians and skilled vocational nurses. Just to mention but a few. Professionals have said.

The country is in lack of the above, and the federal government formerly accredited this, saying that about 80 per cent of Nigeria’s youths are without-a-job and 10 per cent underemployed. What this means is that the aim of creating the National Board for Technical Education (by Act No. 9 of 11th January, 1977), which boasts as a principal organ of Federal Ministry of Education specifically created to handle all aspects of Technical and Vocational Education has been defeated, as this aspect of education is not enshrined in the country’s conventional education curriculum.

Ebele Orakpo and Tare Youdeowei, Nigerian journalists argued in a public debate, “By provisions of the National Policy on Education, we will need at least one technical college in each of the 774 local government areas of the federation. For each local government, you need a minimum of four vocational centres so the products of the vocational centres will be the raw materials for the technical college. The technical college will produce the craftsmen who will be the raw materials for the polytechnics.

“The polytechnics will produce technicians and technologists. So in effect, we need to have 3,096 vocational centres in the country. For every four technical colleges, we are supposed to have one polytechnic. So Nigeria, with 774 local government areas, will need about 194 polytechnics to service our much touted technological revolution.”

Unlike Nigeria, Victor E. Dike, the author of ‘Leadership without a Moral Purpose: a Critical Analysis of Nigeria and the Obasanjo Administration, 2003-2007’, in a civic presentation, said, “Before the Industrial Revolution (between 1750 and 1830) the home and the “apprenticeship system” were the principal sources of vocational education. Vocational education became popular in the elementary schools in the United States after 1880 and developed into courses in industrial training, bookkeeping, stenography, and allied commercial work in both public and private institutions.”

Mrs. Ruqayyatu Rufa’I as then education minister noticed how the government and Nigerians have grown thick skin in waving away vocational education with the left hand, hence she stated at the launch of the 2012 Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report (GMR) in Abuja, that she identified poor public discernment of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), as part of the constrictions encumbering Nigerians from copiously embracing the hypothesis.

It is evidence that globally, Nigeria has been termed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that she has the worst education indicators. The UNESCO’s Country Director in Nigeria, Professor Hassana Alidou at the summit hinted that since the first edition of GMR in 2001, Nigeria was yet to follow modalities in making sure that the six goals of Education for All, adopted in Dakar in 2000, is achieved. The highlight of this is that the 2012 report, positioned a somewhat unmistakable picture of Nigeria’s progress and challenges on vocational education.

Regret on vocational education

Apart from the USA, findings are, according to Dike, “India and the “Asian Tigers” could not have become what they are without massive investment in technical education.”

It was opined that in these climes, they have improved on by adding emphasis in their vocational and technical schools to training in the computers and information technology, due to the economic meltdown in the world.

Against this backdrop, vocational and technical educations which were once abandoned in Nigeria, have been incessantly talked-about in the recent times to be relevant to refilling the gap in the Nigeria’s educational system in the area of providing manpower and technical knowhow.

This is because it is regret everywhere that governments at all levels had abandoned vocational education in Nigeria for a long time, making graduates from such educational system to be treated unfriendly, for the exaltation of university graduates.

For example, many persons that went to technical colleges come out with trade certificate and most times end up their careers on the roadside. The disparity between Higher National Diploma and Bachelor of Science certificates is another proof that technical education is relegated to the background.

But the reverse is that the unceasing unemployment in the country today has made many parents to start registering their children in technical schools, because university graduates who do not have skills go back to vocational schools to acquire skill for the enablement of employment. Technical schools were once termed as where never-do wells go; for second rate students.

Lessons from the USA

Dike said that the number of public and private vocational schools has greatly increased in the United States since 1900. He added that there was an impetus on vocational education during World War II (1939-1945) when the armed services had great need for technicians that the civilian world could not supply.

“There was a further upsurge on vocational training from the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (the G. I. Bill of Rights), which allowed World War II veterans to receive tuition and subsistence during extended vocational training.

“There was also the Manpower Development Training Act (1962), the Vocational Education Act (1963), and the Vocational Education Amendments (1968) and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act (1984). These programs help to improve the nation’s workforce and ensure that vocational training is available for economically (and physically) challenged youths,” he said.

Connoisseurs, however, have said that such notion being exhibited against technical schools graduates in Nigeria is a very bad mentality, which was inherited from the colonial masters. The resultant of the abandonment of vocational education is the fact that Nigerians have seen that grammar and white collar jobs cannot drive the country’s economy.

And there is apprehension that schools in the country produce graduates who can’t swank of skills. Again, there is angry-speech that a typical graduate in the country is unemployable. Hence, Nigeria is looking for a way to improve on her educational system for the enablement of her youth to be independent and acquire employable skills and re-skilling and retraining those that have.

Technical Innovation

It is believed that there are the fundamental energy needs of the normal rural family but few persons are educated about the technical knowhow. What those in this line of thought are suggesting is that every measure to put in place necessary teaching implements that will boost teaching, learning and skill is needed.

Government has said that this will enable entrepreneurial programmes in the Nigerian educational institutions. In November, 2015, the Rector of Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Dr. Cele Njoku was passionate about this with her 80-page, first foundational lecture of the institution, titled “Technical and Vocational Education and The Business Education Question.”

In making sure that Nigerians acquire skills in different occupations, at least, in October 2015, Osun and France signed N8bn solar plant agreement to build a 13 megawatts solar plant in the state. In November 2015, experts canvassed more initiatives on renewable energy. The Bank of Industry, BoI, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, saw the need in technical education and provided a long-term financing for the fitting of off-grid solar home systems “in six communities in a pilot phase.”

Even Major General Mohammadu Buhari, during the Nigeria Alternative Power Expo, NAPE, saw the need to call on investors in the power sector to modify stress towards environmentally friendly substitute sources of power generation in order to guard the ecosystem. The BoI Managing Director, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, distinguished the need to impact on the lives of thousands of people through the initiative.

With vocational education in place, the quest for rural-urban migration won’t be fad; Mr. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in October 2015, promised enormous solar power in one year, while inspecting Solar power stands mounted at a Trade Fair by the Department of International Development (DFID), which was a follow up to the conformity signed between Nigeria and the UK for gigantic solar power in Nigeria.

In 2014, an assemblage of Nigerian engineers, technologists and scientists designed a state-of-the-art model solar car that was expected to put Nigeria on the technology and innovation internationally. They did not build the car with grammar, the Team leader and Creative Director, 9jaBOLT Solar Car Project, Mr. Ebube Ebisike said Nigeria was invited to officially contend as Africa’s sole delegate in the World Solar Challenge in October 18-25, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia.

Improving on vocational schools

Proprietors of vocational schools have called on Nigeria to come to their aid due to what they said is the expensive cost of running such institutions. According to a source, this is important, because “Most of them do not have required workshops, laboratories, buildings, and so on.”

The source went further, “We have 171 technical colleges approved so far but not up to a quarter of them have passed accreditation. Most are owned by state governments, only about 22 are owned by the Federal Government.”

The source added that Nigeria will expend about N1 billion to launch a technical college of international standard. This amount is both for the infrastructure and equipment. And in the 774 local government areas, it will cost Nigeria N774b.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

The Pillar Ortom is Building in Education

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It was a Steven Spielberg that said only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers. And like Nelson Mandela, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State believes that education is the most powerful weapon which one can use to change the world.

He believes in the statement that was credited to Aristotle which is, educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Governor Ortom put this into practice when on May 29 2015 he mounted the saddle and saw that the Benue State University was shut-down for over five months, he made sure that the school is back today, after he negotiated with the authorities.

(Governor Samuel Ortom)
(Governor Samuel Ortom)

The governor moved for the accreditation of the School of Health Sciences. Therefore, fulfilling one thing he told his people of Benue State before he was elected as governor: He is experienced unlike newcomers that would be bent on undergoing a tutorial, a workshop or a seminar before starting their work as governor.

Upon meeting a very dwindling economy when he assumed office, persons like Senator George Akume had commended the governor for his stance in making education one of the 5 pillars of his government, when he came to celebrate Christmas with Ortom at Ortom’s home in Gbajimba. The governor has not said a word without mentioning the need for the people to go to school.

At his hometown, he reiterated that it’s only education that will empower them to pursue careers and gear up to anything, any position, in their future life. Governor Ortom does not only believe in education, but also has modalities put in place in making sure that every child in the state he governs has a basic education.

On February 14, 2016, the governor made public the Government of Benue State preparedness to invest N7.6 Billion in Primary Education. This is coming when the country’s aim to achieve the Universal Basic Education was defeated.

It was at the thanksgiving mass and launching for the building of St. John’s Catholic, Church, Mbazemba, near Adaka, a suburb of Makurdi that the governor made the intention known.

There was the move to make sure that the schools his government is investing in heavily have equal teachers that will man the activities of lecturing. From primary to secondary levels in the state, the government spurred to boost the teaching profession in the schools with a heavily number of 16,000 teachers. With this move, Governor Ortom makes one to recall T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.”

A statement in White’s work reads, “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

The governor knows that primary school is the epicenter of knowledge and he wants the children in Benue State to learn and form the base for a greater future, hence the primary schools should have a larger proportion of the teachers with 10,000 assigned to them, while the secondary should relax with 6,000.

It was not out of place when the governor’s budget for this year was christened “Budget of trust, confidence and credibility.” There is a confidence in the people that at least 400 primary and 44 secondary schools across the state will be wearing a new look soon.

The governor is achieving in his basic education move for the children in Benue. Nigerians know that a once notorious gang leader called Tawase Agwaza alias’ Ghana’ who was terrorising a part of Benue and that of Taraba State, who surrendered over 84 weapons, did that because of the educational preachments of the governor.

You may call it amnesty, but the truth remains that “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library,” a Frank Zappa once said. Governor Ortom has gone to college and graduated and now, he has gone to library and wants residents of Benue State to join him.

The educational programme of the governor goes to re-orientate not just the primary and secondary schools students, but also Tiv people, farmers and herdsmen even in Agatu (the idoma side of Benue state), to dialogue instead of fighting and killing themselves in the farms due to misconceptions.

With the good works that Governor Ortom is doing in Benue State, it is evidence that he has been in politics for over thirty years. He has garnered much experience having experienced toughness to attain the educational height he enjoys today. He has a PhD! He was a Local Government Chairman and has headed several positions at the PDP party level and the State, before he was elected governor on the platform of the All Progressives Alliance (APC). He was Auditor of PDP and then, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Governor Samuel Ortom needs the people’s cooperation to achieve and sustain the numerous works he has started in Benue State. The assemblage of persons he has called around him in order to strategise on how to move education in the state to the next level should not disappoint.

The Technocrats, Politicians, Traditional rulers and all sorts of people he has called together should venture into stringent research to move Benue State forward.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State, Nigeria. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348057778358.

Burden of the National Almajiri Education initiative

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The social significance of the almajiri schools has been a subject that analysts are yet to reach to any definite characterization. In the northern part of the country, this school system is Utopia regardless the neo-definition of education by the Boko Haram sect in the north as a sin. Against this backdrop, those who are not from the north have been worried that while the almajiris wander the streets in search for support from people, they pose a threat to national security as they could be feasible to the indoctrinations of the Boko Haram terrorists group.

It was perceptible that 30 per cent of Northern youths were almajiris, even though that Katsina State was among the first place in the regions that made up Nigeria where the first college in the northern Nigeria was built. President Goodluck Jonathan affirmed this when he visited Katsina State for his 2015 electioneering campaign on Tuesday, January 20 2015. The president said that the Federal Government established 38 Almajiri Quranic schools in Katsina State with 19,000 pupils’ enrolment.

This is apart from accounts that Borno State is reverenced as a centre of Islamic learning, with 389,048 almajiri pupils. From records, Kaduna State has 824,233 almajiris. By October 2012, the Federal Government had said that it had completed 64 out of the 89 Almajiri schools in the northern part of the country, yet the number of almajiris in the north was not reducing. In making sure that there is an incorporated education that would encompass basic Western education alongside Islamic education as a means of plummeting the level of illiteracy in the northern region, which was seen as the causative factor of the incessant uproar in the north at any slight provocation, the Federal Government built seven Almajiri/Tsangaya schools in Niger State alone and handed them over to the state government, even though that observers later found out that the number of almajiri schools built in the state were far lower than the population of almajiris in the state.

almajiri schools

(Picture from Internet)

By February 9 2014, it was revealed from a survey conducted by the Niger State government, in which it was found out that there were no smaller amount than 57, 281 almajiris in the state. Two almajiri schools that were built in Birnin Kebbi and Argungu as at the year in quote were reportedly left closed since finishing point two years ago. It was not certain why the relapse in the programme whether as it was the agreement between the FG and the states government that the former would take care for about 70%, while the state takes care of the rest 40%. What has delayed completion of the schools in some states was, according to explorations, the states concerned were not playing along with the federal government in making sure that the project was achievable. By April 2012, the Federal Government had spent N5 billion on 35 model almajiri primary schools being built across the nation, said Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETF, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in Sokoto.

As at May 13 2014, a statement by Mr. David Apeh, Public Relations Officer of UBEC, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said that 103 of these schools have been completed and handed over to the SUBEBs, while 22 were at various stages of completion. It was believed that the Federal Government came up with the idea of the modernised almajiri schools when it was being recurrently criticized for the insecurity in the north, with Nigerians on this criticism job also not restraining an accusing finger that the Boko Haram threat in the North was for the lack of qualitative education in the area.

With the entire attendant racket by the government, a group known as the Grassroots Development Network on January 7 2015 said that the Almajiri schools cannot provide qualitative teaching because they are underfunded. This disclosure was made by the National Coordinator of the group, Yusuf Garba in Kaduna. According to Garba, about 127 almajiri schools across the northern states lacked essential teaching and learning facilities and the nomadic basis which is the core lifestyle of the almajiris. The group was invariably talking about statistics presented by Arewa Youth Mobilisation, AYM, as at April 26 2012 that there were 1.6 million almajiris in 26,000 tsangaya schools across the 44 local government areas of Kano State.

Yet, President Jonathan had assured Nigerians at the inauguration that his administration believed that the time has come for the country to build on the moral foundations of the traditional school system by providing the almajiri with conventional knowledge and skills that would enable them to fully realise their creative and productive potential. However, some opinion leaders had divergent views, describing the almajiri practice as ancient practice in the north where indigent children were colonised by Mallams to be begging for arms in the streets for them.

Nonetheless, some schools of thought believed that such school had worked in the past, but now, “an avenue for the mass production of miscreants, thugs and vagabonds.” El-Amin Zubairu, Coordinator, Peoples Advocacy for Human Rights, PAFHR, a Northern-based group had told newsmen: “As far as I am concerned, the Almajiri system should give way, we no longer need it in the north. I am a good Muslim and I know how my religion admonishes us to treat the poor. A lot of indices point to the fact that almajiris are now tools in the hands of those who use them to perpetuate evil. So, whether it is Almajiri education or not, the system should be confined to history.”

Some public affairs analysts had characterized the project as a waste of Nigeria’s scarce resources. They believed that the money should’ve been expended on the fight against some diseases ravaging the northern part of the country such as cholera and blindness. These Nigerians added that they knew that even if the country preferred to invest its money in the almajiri school project, the almajiris and their sponsors would rather prefer rankadede (which translates to begging). Other Nigerians had slammed President Jonathan that he was indirectly not regarding the north as part of Nigeria by his administration’s encouragement of almajiri schools in the north. To this set of people, they frowned that promoting almajiri schools was invariably promoting Islam over other religions in the country

It is on record that the Senate had in 2008, made an attempt to end the almajiri debacle by proposing a bill for the acting-out of the National Commission for the Eradication of Child Destitution in Nigeria. Known as Almajiri Bill, it was sponsored by Umaru Argungu and 31 others. In their mindset, they required that any proprietor of an unregistered tsangaya school should be punished with two years jail term. It is perceivable that the efforts of the Federal Government in spending billions of naira to build almajiri schools across the 19 Northern states failed, as Boko Haram terrorists that have been ravaging the northern part of the country, are recruiting young suicide bombers in their fold; mostly children who are picked from the streets in the north begging for arms, suspected to be the almajiris.

Although, the children in the almajiri schools were so glad when in May 2014, the Federal Government, in association with the Universal Basic Education Commission, distributed 50 per cent of the cost essential for the acquiring of school uniforms to them. President Goodluck Jonathan under whose leadership the project was being executed had said in Sokoto city, the Seat of the legendary Sokoto Caliphate that he would have been an almajiri if he was from the north, because he owned no shoe as a kid living with his poor parents in the hinter region of Ijaw.

The aim of the National Almajiri Education initiative was to re-dress the out-of-school children syndrome at the grassroots. It was believed that the programme was to guarantee that children at the early childhood stage had access to education, which was one of the statutory functions of the commission, hence 125 almajiri model schools were being constructed by the Federal Government under the National Almajiri Education Programme.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State. (apoet_25@yahoo.com). Tel: +2348032552855.

Film: Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion

By Odimegwu Onwumere

 

Film, as the word implies, is defined as a thin sheet or strip of flexible material, such as a cellulose derivative or a thermoplastic resin, coated with a photosensitive emulsion and used to make photographic negatives or transparencies. In an online report, rom the Old English filmen in the Indo-European roots, it is believed among them that one indication of the gulf between them and their Victorian predecessors is that the Oxford English Dictionary fascicle containing the word film, published in 1896, does not have the sense “a motion picture.” The one hint of the future to be found among still familiar older senses of the word, such as “a thin skin or membranous coating” or “an abnormal thin coating on the cornea,” is the sense of film used in photography, a sense referring to a coating of material, such as gelatin, that could substitute for a photographic plate or be used on a plate or on photographic paper. Thus a word that has been with them since Old English times took on this new use, first recorded in 1845, which has since developed and now refers to an art form, a sense first recorded in 1920. Thereafter, often used in the plural, movies became a sequence of photographs projected onto a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity.

sam dede

(Sam Dede; Nigerian Actor)

 

However, on the theme of Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, it is imperative to say that Africans, precisely the present day people called Nigerians, didn’t know what film was till when in 1903 the first film was shown at Glover Hall, Lagos; and thereafter in 1904, the first film titled Palaver was shot in Jos, in the present day Plateau State. Before these events took place, Nigerians were enmeshed in folklores, according to the myths of their different ethnic groups before they were amalgamated in 1914, by Sir Lord Luggard. Aftermath of Palaver, film-showing and cinema-going was politicized by the British and American exploiters. Through their makeshift cinema vehicles, they inculcated the much sorted socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. This polarization of film-showing and film-going was sustained through a platform called Colonial Film Unit.

 

In the recent times, Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s. It is on record that the rise of affordable digital filming and editing technologies has stimulated the country’s video film industry. Later in the 1990s, the movie industry in Nigeria tremendously progressed. Today, Nigeria has the second largest film industry in the world, and rated largest in the Africa’s movie industry – in terms of the value of the movie industry and the number of annual film production. In this regard, film in Nigeria has brought dividends of eco-political empowerment, socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Nigeria’s annual film production is ahead of the United States but behind the Indian film industries. This was why Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange, who were formerly of the Cable News Network (CNN) said, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 videos for the home video, market monthly.

 

In his Keynote Address at the 2nd National Film Festival, 27th November, 2003, titled, In Defence of the Films We Have Made, Odia Ofeimun, a radical Nigerian poet/author, said that film does represent a deep psychological implant pressed into place by so many untold and even unspeakable events in our history. It looks like an underdeveloped prong of the collective mind of a whole nation. But it is actually the result of a deliberate scrambling of categories and genre for the sake of effect in a society where the truth of history is still being told unnecessarily in whispers. Arguably, in western scholarship, such a fare of screen narratives would be appreciated as a special category. In literature, critics of African literature have moved from talking about magical realism, as Latin Americans pursue it, to what our South African-based critic, Harry Garuba, has called animist realism.

 

In the said 1960s, the Nigerian films were dominated by the people from Yoruba ethnic group, thereby giving the people of that region an edge to showcase their culture. And they were manned by Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala), Ola Balogun and others, whom Ofeimun, described as, tough-minded denizens of folk drama. These indigenous Nigerian film pioneers were frustrated by high cost of film production, but they were never discouraged owing to the cultural ties and tourism they were integrating Nigerians through their films. It was as a result of the unrelenting spirit of these film-dudes that television broadcasting in Nigeria, which began in 1960s, received much government support in its early years; and every state had its own broadcasting station by the mid-1980s. It was the efforts of these Nigerian film-dudes that the government law moderated foreign television content to enable the Nigerian film producers showcase their products. As a result, producers in Lagos began televising local popular theater productions, which are not far from the films of the persons mentioned above for Nigeria’s socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Many of that were circulated on video as well, and a small scale informal video movie trade developed.

 

In promoting our culture, it is a known truth, said Ofeimun, that rather than wait on the imports from Hollywood which speak to our common humanity by denying or simply being indifferent to whatever we could call our own, the home-video woke up something that was once there but had been stamped underfoot by managers of the national and sub-regional cultural economy. Not to forget, this was happening when swindlers in the political marketplace were emplacing homegrown democracy with one hand and displacing it with the other. The video arrived in the most homegrown attire that it could weave for itself in a country where the search for foreign exchange had become the defining factor in national dream-making. It turned its back on the dollar trail and reached out for the Naira without hesitation.

 

Rather than the dollar-mania that had overtaken all comers, it sought an import-substitution aesthetic which insisted on building a comparative advantage not as a subaltern of the imported Hollywood stuff but its avid displacer. Whereas in every other area of economic activity, imports have killed the local industry, the home-video industry is one area in which the avalanches of CDs and DVDs that have come as bounties from off-shore bootlegging confederations have merely widened the room for the video marketers to dance.

 

The emergence of film in Nigeria has integrated Nigerian authors to lengthen the showcasing of their arts through films, as a result, widening the scope of that genre’s culture which was previously read by those who cared.

 

Film is widening the cultural relationship and tourism promotion between Nigeria and other countries since the staging of the first National Film Festival in 1993. The festival broke the disparity in the West African coast, relationship with the member states, which were only glued by the awkward smuggling of goods. Film breached the debasement the international creditors meted out on us, in the words of Ofeimun, as those who lapped up what others produced while abandoning their own. Film in Nigeria broke the pariah on cross border trade which was centred on feeding the stomach and brought about the exploration and exploitation of indigenous artistic talents. This broken jinx ended the years of centralised knowledge or awareness: those who could not read books can now watch films, thereby making the culture of Nigerians go round, as against the years when it was few Nigerians that could tell which highlife musicians, authors, or fine artists were doing what within the West coast.

 

Many academics and intellectuals, especially Onokome Okome, Jonathan Haynes, Hyginus Ekwuazi, Wole Ogundele, Obodinma Oha, Brian Larkin and Dul Johnson, made it their business to monitor and censor film, which’s seen by them as art, business and social ideology – with elements of culture and tourism in any defined society. It is only film that can tell story in a way that no other medium can do. Film has integrated the Onitsha Market Literature and widened the culture of only buying and selling, for the inculcation of socio-culture awareness. Likewise, the same is applicable in the Kano Market Literature.

 

His film, Amadi, Ola Balogun had to show the cultural affinity that a people can relate with people from other ethnic group by producing a movie in such a people’s language. It is on record that Amadi is clearly an experimental film: an Igbo film made by a Yoruba. Films such as Cinaventures’ Bisi – Daughter of the River, Ladi Ladebo’s pairing with African American Ossie Davis and in Countdown at Kusini and his later productions, Taboo and Vendorlack in the true and original tale of communality of Africans, thereby making us to grasp the visual results and not in authenticating its Africanness and our culture. Films like Dinner with the Devil by Sanya Dosunmu and Wole Amele and Eddie Ugbomah production, and The Great Attempt which were banned by the film censors, perhaps met their waterloos, because they breached the culture of Nigeria.

 

Hubert Ogunde’s film, Aiye, was termed the modal film of witchcraft, showcasing the Yoruba tradition and their cosmic cultural endowment, which Ofeimun calls, cultural economics. Amaka Igwe, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, Zack Orji, Tunde Kelani, Galadima, Liz Benson, Kenneth Nnebue, Peter Edochie, Sam Loco Efe, Zeb and Chico Ejiro, Mofe Damijo, Yinka Quadri, Genevieve Nnaji, Jide Kosoko, Omotola Ekehinde, Zack and Fred Amata, became directors, producers, actors and actresses coming from different cultural divides. In the words of Ofeimun, they are new denizens on the block. Their emergence brought about the Nollywood, as it is known today, widening our culture and promoting tourism.

 

Nollywood was set by the release of Living in Bondage critics called the box-office movie in 1992 by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue in the eastern city of Onitsha. The Promotion of tourism in the story goes that Kenneth Nnebue had an excess number of imported video cassettes which he then used to shoot the first film. The huge success of that film set the pace for others to produce other films or home videos. It is a known fact that through the business instincts and ethnic links of the Igbo and their dominance of distribution in major cities across Nigeria, home videos began to reach people across the country. Nollywood exploded into a booming industry that pushed foreign media off the shelves. Against the early Yoruba filmmakers who used local languages, the use of English rather than local languages served to expand the market and fierce marketing using posters, trailers, and television advertising also played a role in Nollywood’s success, bringing back the British and Americans Colonial Film Unit, when films were shown in mobile vans.

 

However, in Europe, in its Cross Border Cooperation: Neighbourhood Programmes under Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) programme, the European Union launched its “Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood” initiative in 2003. The creation of Neighbourhood Programmes, covering the period 2004-2006, became the first step in implementation of the new instrument. The Neighbourhood Programmes as a bi/trilateral programmes and regional/multilateral cooperation programmes, involved both sides of the European Union’s external borders. They supported local and regional authorities and organisations inside and outside the Union to work together to improve the economic and social conditions of the areas concerned, to address common challenges, ensuring efficient and secure borders as well as promoting people-to-people contacts. The initiative seek to address the challenges posed by proximity and neighbourhood, aimed at working with neighbouring countries towards improving conditions for the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons as well as developing a zone of prosperity and friendly neighbourhood.

 

“Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument”, the Commission adopted the Communication as part of its new policy, which envisaged the creation of a new instrument for dealing with the common challenges arising from proximity related issues on external borders of the enlarged EU. Among the many examples of projects that were carried out by the initiative, a successful project for national and international heritage reservation was the one entitled, Arctic Archives and Films under Restoration in Barents Region (AARE). The project aimed at increasing the know-how of the Russian partners (from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk) in restoring, digitising and archiving of the unique audiovisual materials – arctic documentary films, as well as to facilitate their public access.

 

Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, however, has brought much good to humankind. Film has brought quantitative studies increasingly dominating analyses of conflict, issues of data validity which have many a times received tremendous consideration. Our local cultures are in sojourn all over the world through film. In the interaction of cultures, globalisation is also setting the pace.

 

With the approach that local cultures are overwhelmed, it is on record that there is sufficient evidence, in accord with a comment that ‘dynamic cultures will overcome conservative cultures’. In another vein, reports explicate that attempts by Nigerian video films to mainstream along the lines of global commercial culture could explain their superficial commitment to culture… since the elements of local cultures are daily refined by influences which dictate the mainstreaming of values to fit global prescriptions. That, itself, brings into question the optimism of a former Secretary-General of the United Nations who, in reference to nationhood and cultural projection, stated (De Cuellar, 1995: 7): “Nationhood… has led each people to challenge the frame of reference in which the West’s system of values alone generated rules assumed to be universal and to demand the right to forge different versions of modernization.” A different view is the interpretation that ‘forging different versions of modernization’ means projecting a version of local culture which suits the demands of global popular culture.

 

Gelete: Irin Ajo Eda Laye, says the report, which chronicles facets of a man’s journey through life and was produced by a former television personality – Jaiye Ojo, is another. The film is said to be a collage of the lives of different people from different backgrounds: intrigues, desperation, greed, misfortune, betrayal, and leaves lessons… it portrays Yoruba culture in its richness, leaving out the kind of abusive and rotten language used in some other films, ostensibly to raise their popular appeal.

 

The world cup and other world’s grand finales are today extolled by their fans through film. The case of the world cup in South Africa is an immense case study. People, who could not be there live, were united as fans by the televised world cup films in what many call Film Centres for Football. In the Film Centres for Football, a Christian could shake hand with a Muslim, irrespective of their religious background, and an American can sit with an Iraqi and watch football film, irrespective of their countries wrangling, and so on.

 

Nigerians can’t thank the Nigerian Film Corporation, set up in 1979, and the Nigerian Film Distribution Company enough, for playing very great-secondary roles in their affirmative consequence towards emancipating our film. Posterity will always remember foundation and pioneering work of Nigerian filmmakers like Sanya Dosunmu, Jab Adu, Ola Balogun and Eddie Ugbomah; Ade Foloyan, Moses Adejumo Olaiya, Herbert Ogunde and Bankole Bello. As part of its cultural preservation programmes, in 2009, UNESCO called for greater support for Nollywood, which it said, is the second-largest employer in Nigeria.

 

About the Author: 

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, is a Poets for Human Rights member, USA., co-founded by Poet Laureate Larry Jaffe, the author of One Child Sold; and a Champions For Nigeria Resident Poet, United Kingdom . Onwumere is a voracious reader, prolific writer, researcher, poet, thinker, social critic, political analyst, an activist, etc. He has published four books namely: Piquant: Love Poems To Prince Tonye Princewill (2008), The many wrong doings of Madam do-good (2009), Through the Crucible (2012) and The Disgrace of Marriage (2012). Tel: +2348032552855.

Nigerian Students endangered by pathetic toilet facilities, defecate in bush

By Odimegwu Onwumere

A greater part of public nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary schools across the country do not have lavatories, experts said. Some of them that have toilets, either the restrooms do not have doors or water system for users’ convenience.

Confirming this, Mr. Ishaya Dare Akawu, as the chairman of the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), apparently said that he had visited most Nigerian schools and they do not have toilets and many do not have contact to water.

For example, checks discovered that about 80% of primary schools in Enugu North had no toilet amenities and both the students and teachers defecated in the bush, especially in 2013. The schools that were affected were given as those in Udenu, Igbo-Eze North, Igbo-Eze South, Igbo-Etiti, Nsukka and Uzo-Uwani local government areas.

toilet

(Photo: from Daily Independent, Nigeria)

A primary school teacher, who said that he had been in the profession of teaching for the past 20 years, outwardly said: The issue of non-provision of toilet facilities has become part of the public school system in this part of the country. It is not even being regarded as a priority at all. So, over the years, we have become accustomed to using the bush, where it is available.

Teachers and students in many of the schools do not know when this will end. According to professionals, defecating in the bush by the students is very dangerous as many do not have sandals. They come to school barefooted and might be attacked by snake or bitten by poisonous ants when they go to the bush to defecate. The teacher added that it was a reprehensible feature for a teacher like him to rush into the bush like a hunter to answer the call of nature.

Investigation, however, revealed that the trend in Nigerian schools is that authorities build infrastructures without the provision for toilet and many that have, the toilets are under lock and key. Many of the teachers use the same toilet facilities with their students due to none are attached to their offices, therefore creating unfriendly environment in the schools.

A 400 level Adult Education/Political Science student at a tertiary institution in Lagos State said that the toilet situation in her school was appalling, which had to compel them to shut the windows of their kitchen while cooking to evade the offensive smell that oozed out from the toilet. Another student said that he contracted diarrhea from their school toilet and could not stay at home, but had to come to school, because he had an examination. Nevertheless, he messed his trouser up, which moved his colleagues into getting him another trouser to cover up.

Some of the schools have no water or are constantly in short of water, which make the toilets unclean. Students most times create an avenue for ‘water boy’, but that often fail. The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, frowned that the country was far from having child friendly school concept.

It said that this was widespread in various states in the country: A majority of primary schools, especially in rural areas, lack water, electricity and toilet facilities. For example, on average, there is only one toilet for 600 pupils in the primary school system. Despite political commitment to trying to reverse years of neglect in the education sector and a significant increase of the Federal funding, investment in basic education is still low compared to other Sub-Saharan countries.

Speaking in an investigation of some universities in the country on April 15 2012, some newsmen in the persons of Samuel Awoyinfa (Lagos), Mike Odiegwu (Yenagoa), Akinwale Aboluwade (Ibadan), Mudiaga Affe (Calabar), Femi Makinde (Ekiti), Success Nwogu (Ilorin), and James Azania (Edo), had this to say: Except for the new ones, the average public university in Nigeria is at least three decades old. Unlike old wines that mature with age, however, facilities in these tertiary institutions seem to age as the year passes, with many vice-chancellors promising to upgrade them.

They added that from their explorations, many of the universities lack basic infrastructure like regular water supply, sufficient accommodation, well-equipped libraries or functional rest rooms in the halls of residence or in lecture arenas. In a discussion of March 24 2013, the likes of James Azania, Success Nwogu, Gbenga Adeniji and Motunrayo Aboderin who went on a tour of some tertiary institutions did not sing a different song.

They reported that the schools sanitary conditions were in an appalling state, although there were imposing edifices and attention-catching frontage which usually welcomed visitors into many universities in Nigeria, the toilet facilities in many of the hall of residence in the institutions were in an unpleasant state. Across the country, students were lamenting the poor state of toilets and bathrooms in higher institutions.

In their account, the Aliyu Makama Bida female hostel of the University of Lagos, the toilet had unpleasant odour that could be perceived from the walkway leading to the hostel, which was helped by the smell of urine and garbage littering a corner of the toilet. One of the students, who gave his name as Mary Otobong, said: Promises are made by the hall management at the beginning of the year to improve on the facilities, but that they are yet to be fulfilled.

She also said that students were made to fetch water to flush the toilet, because the water system was faulty. Another student, Simi Omobode, whom they said was studying social studies in the institution at the time of the review, said that the toilets were in a terrible state. And that she usually had to contain herself from defecating until she was at a convenient place. Even when she said that she knew it was not good for her system, she had no choice.

Omobode continued that the cleaners who were employed to see that the toilets were kept clean hardly keep to the reason they were employed. According to the source, at Madam Tinubu Hall of the university, which was also a female hostel, student of educational studies, Ayomide Olabanji, said: Sometimes, the toilets are messed up with human waste for days without being washed. Taking our bath is usually a tug of war. The stench is terrible. So we have to hold our breath while bathing. If there was running water, it would help the situation.

The source continued that the story was not different from the male hotel; they were too dirty that many would prefer to hold what they should have given out freely from their systems till they get to a convenient place.

In the hostels it was noted: You can’t believe what goes on in Hall 1. When it’s dawn, students come out to take their bath in the open. It is even worse in Hall 2, where there is hardly a divide between the female and male hostels; you can trust some of the boys will want to catch a glimpse. They intentionally walk by to peep on the ladies who are taking their bath.

The story goes on: The toilets are nothing to write home about, and many of the ladies prefer to use the alternative, by defecating in nylon bags and flinging it across the walls; that is the in-thing and the best way to keep away from getting infected. Sanitary facilities there are simply inadequate and that’s why many prefer off-campus accommodation. In a room of four, you have legal and illegal squatters, it is so bad, but the students just have to move on until they get a better alternative.

Sanitation friendly-ethic in Nigerian schools is in sorry state. A visit to a school in Bayelsa State, this reporter was faced with a very scraggy-scruffy, dirty and soiled toilet. The toilet was a total despondency. A friend who went to the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), the Imo State University as well as their corresponding ones in Uturu, Kwara, Abakiliki and Ekpoma etcetera, even said that their toilet situations were better mentioned in the dream.

Open defecation has become a tradition amongst students and teachers in the schools, which is against the World Health Organization (WHO) prescription of a healthy living. In its report of 2004, WHO said: 88% of diarrhea disease is accredited to hazardous water supply, derisory sanitation and hygiene and that enhanced water provision reduces diarrhea by between 6% and 25%. Improved sanitation decreases diarrhea by 32%.

This information was maintained by the scientific breakthrough that one gram of feaces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1 thousand parasite cysts, and a hundred worm eggs. The CEO of Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP), a Nigerian Water and Sanitation NGO based in Owerri, Imo State, said: The unsanitary conditions typical of many school toilets send the wrong message to students about the importance of sanitation and hygiene; schools can become ideal places to establish good hygiene (and other) behaviours as well as to provide strong environmental models that can serve as examples.

Perhaps, Nigerians forgot that children/students who learn good hygiene in school, the source said, can also become important health promoters everywhere especially at home. The RAWDP scrutinized further: There is no doubt therefore that poor sanitation and its consequences particularly ill-health adversely affects school participation, lowering enrollment rates, increasing absenteeism, and contributing to poor classroom performance and early school dropout.

The source also said that such decreases learning capacity as measured in educational performance, outcomes, and productivity. The lack of appropriate sanitary facilities may discourage students/pupils from attending school; girls, who are menstruating, in particular, would rather not go to school than have to deal with the lack of privacy.

According to a statement credited to UNICEF Specialist, Amos Kudzala, while speaking at a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), in Enugu recently, said: Advocating for the provision of WASH facilities in schools and hospitals across the country, he noted that every child, rich or poor, has the right to survive, the right to health, the right to access to improved water supply.

However, authorities believed that most of the toilet situations in the schools were not their fault, even when some students volunteer to put up some comatosed toilets in their schools, it was learnt that the students still do not use them properly, especially students at the tertiary level.  To many of the students, sanitation is only a word that should be confined in the Dictionary.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com

UNESCO: Unfounded Figure Of Nigerian Children Out Of School

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Sometimes as it is now, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO can embarrass a nation it is serving with educational information when it goes out to do or permute funny numbers to make a case. Recently, an astonishing revelation was seemingly made by Kate Redman, the Communications Specialist, Education for All Global Monitoring Report, EAGMR, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.

wike

This officer stated that Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the world. And this may have remained unchallenged in a way it is necessary to adjust the statistics of the country’s children’s school going population minus the non-going. It is important to make known that the UNESCO and its informants claimed that Ten Million Nigerian children are out from school. This writer is, however, wondering how the organization came to this number on its records.

By saying that Nigeria is showing 10 million children who are out of school programmes, the organization is suggesting that the children recorded at 10 million do not attend school. It further asserts that Nigeria leads 12 other countries in the ring of lowering the future of its children along the axis of Pakistan to Yemen and Niger.

To many local and international observers, the finding as reported was ‘a true expose of the rot in the governance in Nigeria’. Many had believed UNESCO in its entirety regarding the cited number at 10 million to be true and fair. But Yours Truly contends that this declaration by UNESCO had barely gone unchallenged before to the extent citizens can make sense of. Although, there are a lot of education professionals throwing their weight behind the body that lets this type of phony figures to stand. With some exceptions, Nigeria has the likes of the National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign, ERC; Mr. Hassan Soweto had earlier described the statistics as an understatement, adding that the number was much more than the data presented by UNESCO.

This journalist’s crosschecking of the culture of Nigerian facts significantly point to show that the description offered by UNESCO is untrue. This is owing to the fact that UNESCO didn’t delineate the tactics it used to arrive at the number. Not until a clear explanation of how the number quoted is arrived at, it leaves many and the reporter in doubt with regard to the accuracy and authenticity of the number of Nigerian children who are out of school currently.

Again, because Nigeria doesn’t know her population rate, so how the UNESCO arrived at its report that 10 million Nigerian children are out from school is doubtful. According to media reports, the Director of Whitefield High School, Mr. Luke Onyeanula who runs a flourishing private school in Lagos, had queried the statistics. He emphasized that the dawn of private schools has been an enhancement to the education sector this trend must be factored into.

Onyeanula therefore disagreed with the statistics. He made the point that around the communities there are schools whose school-fees are very cheap that parents and guardians can afford. He then asked: ‘So, how does the UNESCO’s report reflect the reality in the education sector, when the private sector is establishing schools in every nook and cranny of the country?’

It was experimental that the government had not given proper attention to basic education in the country. As such room is given to such UNESCO’s ruinous report. Another educationist and a retired Principal of Federal Government College, Gwandu, Dr. Sylvanus Okoto, flared-up at the Federal Government for accepting the UNESCO’s report with what he had said was, ‘with an ‘unrealistic’ pledge to tackle the issue.’

Something refreshing has been emerging since the UNESCO made that claim, with educational pundits not agreeing with it for being false. It was the opinion of connoisseurs that UNESCO imposed the figure on Nigeria, perhaps, owing to the fact that the country still operates an incorrect census. The consequences of British colonial legacy of irreconcilable census measures for Nigeria have continued to compound and allow the con-population figures.

Mr. G.E Oti, a public affairs analyst who gave his words during the collation of data for this report, said that Nigeria was at the base of its own confusion and manipulation in the course for others to define her. Thus institutional strangers like the UNESCO had a cause to fill up the gap. To Mr. Oti, the figure was not correct. According to him, unless there is deployment of a trusted sociometricprocess, only a theoretical figure would suffice.

Oti believed that the census figures of Nigeria are politicized, which have made the stranger’s data thrown at Nigeria to become a suitable point of reference. It is evident that ‘UNESCO gets Nigerian education wrong’ as also one James Stanfield, a data analyst, highlighted that there are many unregistered ‘low cost private schools that exist across Nigeria’, which Onyeanula had earlier on pinpointed. In such schools, many millions of Nigerian children that attend such schools matter and must be accounted for in any sense of reaching a meaningful population of school going and non-going population categories.

It was superficial on the part of UNESCO to feel it was seeing Nigeria than Nigeria sees herself. The UNESCO’s claim, however, has been alleged as a method with which certain persons or groups have found out an optimum to govern the affairs of Nigeria from afar. Stanfield had said: ‘But why is this unfortunate? First, the state of the world is better than someone says it is which is good to know. Second, a bunch of people with the desire to govern, in practice to derange, the entire world is ignorant of what is really going on in it.

‘To me, that also sounds rather good. Accurate statistics are the lifeblood of governmental projections for planning and action. Without education crisis in Nigeria as it is being shown in this claim, it appears that UNESCO would quickly become redundant. Second, by widely exaggerating the number of out of school children, this also allows UNESCO to point the finger at Western donors for failing to meet their funding commitments.’ Like in all cases, any claim will be supported with reasons like UNESCO has been doing here.

A clear indication has also shown that the UNESCO cooked up the figures and dished it out for Nigeria to probably embezzle funds, because it believed that the amount of aid to basic education that Nigeria receives in the country was declining. Evident was that the body had said that the education aid that Nigeria received in 2011 was 28 per cent lower than she received in 2010. As if the wrong statistics on Nigeria was not enough, the UNESCO added that 57 million children were out of school globally in 2011. But in 2010 it plummeted two million downward.

Nonetheless, there is no gainsaying that there has been a lacuna given different governments at different levels in Nigeria to improve upon qualitative education. But again, the figure by the UNESCO does not add up. It was a mere permutation. Even where there is resistance to western education in the northern part of the country, the children of school age in that region are not out of school, because they still attend Arabic schools, except that the UNESCO was seeing education to mean Western form of education.

Having this as the view of the body, then the organization got it wrong. It got it wrong because education transcends the four walls of school, authorities would say. Education is an awakener. School only teaches. The power of education can make one do what a schooled person cannot. Robert Frost, a renowned poet, who was born in 1874 and lived until 1963, said: ‘Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.’ Education does not indoctrinate, but what many people erroneously refer to as education is schooling. Education emancipates and empowers with true programs and figures – as noted by Iroegbu in 2000.

Irina Bokova

Since 1999, many Nigerians have been skeptical why the number of out of school Nigerian children has been rising and falling in the statistics of Westerners and their organizations. There was a suspicion by stakeholders that there had been a rising number of ‘charities’ meant for aiding education in Nigeria as well as even prolong the problem they were apparently there to harness. One Paul Marks believed in UNESCO thus, ‘statists do not fundamentally change’ and questions the grounds of compounding figures that upset critical observers.

He further noted, ‘They say that people are stupid and need to be controlled (hence books such as ‘Nudge’ and ‘Thinking: Fast and Stupid’) and so they do everything they can to MAKE PEOPLE THAT WAY. Otherwise the collectivists would have no excuse for their power and, from their own point of view, no reason to live. Fear that large numbers of people would not be able to read and write is not the reason they support state education – on the contrary teaching basic skills is not a high priority (I went to a state school – I know).

‘As long as most people learn the basic knowledge of doing things to get by (whether they are in state schools or private schools) they are happy. And the basic lesson is that the collective (i.e. the ‘enlightened’ category of the population or elite) is in charge – or should be in charge. That was the basic principle for Plato – and it is the basic principle for Polly T. at the Guardian (it does not fundamentally change).

‘At the start of the 20th Century virtually everyone in Iceland could read and write (often in more than one language). One wonders if that stopped by any means the creation of a state education system. Of course it did not – because creating a state education system was not really about teaching people to read and write. It was about controlling their minds and actions – and it WORKS’

Analysts, conversely, had advised that the UNESCO’s reports are unessential. But, rather, Nigeria should evaluate her education policies as was initiated in 1954 by the then colonial government of Sir John Macpherson. To edge such UNESCO’s report out, experts had advised that more budget should be meant for education in Nigeria and that acts must be fully implemented. This includes the fact that facilities to accommodate students should be expanded and basic education should be seen as a priority and renewed when it is due to make people become more competitive in the modern world.

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855 Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com http://www.odimegwuonwumere.wordpress.com