To stem the rot in the Nigeria’s educational system, especially at the tertiary level, the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has called for a shutdown of all tertiary institutions for two years to enable government and the stakeholders address the inherent rot.
Soyinka had made a similar call in the 8os, but his suggestion was not heeded.
He repeated the call today at the start of a two-day Rivers State Education Summit in Port Harcourt.
Soyinka lamented the decline in the sector. He said the crisis in the tertiary institutions has reached its lowest ebb and therefore needs a radical approach to the problem.
The Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi concurred with Soyinka’s diagnosis, but he did not state whether he would shut the tertiary schools under his watch.
He however directed the State Commissioner for Education, Ms Alice Nemi to issue letters of employment to the 13,000 teachers recruited last year to teach in the new model primary schools across the State.
Governor Amaechi said it has become important to bring in the newly engaged teachers to teach in the model Schools given the poor performances of the present crop of teachers in the Schools.
He lamented that despite the radical reforms he had introduced in the sector after declaring a state of emergency 2008, there is inherent poor management of Government owned Schools in the State ‘’which has been the bane of poor performances of students and pupils in the State’’.
He said ‘’education is a right of every Nigerian. We are not far away from the rot we inherited from the education system. The management of the Schools is very poor. We virtually pay for everything but teachers are bent on collecting money from Pupils and Students with impunity.”
Amaechi said the State Government decided to take over the payment of primary teachers’ salaries from the local Government Council to remove the burden on them and stressed that the quality assurance management board will be set up to assess and evaluate the performances of Schools in the State.
In a key note address presented at the summit a former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan Professor Ayo Banjo advocated for Two measures that can ensure an effective work force at both primary and secondary tiers are effective supervision and constant re-training of teachers.
He said that in the past the ministries of education maintained a vigorous inspectorate division,which was so strict that they were a terror in the schools. The effect was that teachers were kept on their toes because they could never predict when the bogey-man would turn up.
Prof. Banjo said that because of the Inspectors, Headmasters similarly kept a strict eye on their teachers.
The absence of the Inspectorate department appears to have led to dereliction of duty, particularly in the primary schools, on the part of so-called teachers, who apparently have hardly any interest in teaching and guiding their pupils but are on a constant watch-out for a better-paid job elsewhere.
He also called for effective remuneration of teachers as a way of encouraging them.
He said the inevitable surge in the number of Schools has resulted in loss of status for teachers who he said lack motivation and have become demoralized.