Home / Education / ‘Nigerian educational sector as bad news’ – Dr. Frederick Fasehun
(L-R): Secretary General, West Africa Student’s Union (WASU), Diplomat -Aziz Camara, Award Recipient’s Wife -Deaconess Iyabo Fasehun, the Award Recipient -Dr. Frederick Fasehun, President (WASU) -Ambassador Mensah Kweku and WASU Deputy Speaker -Diplomat Kelveen Poullinous, at the presentation of the “Platinum Award for Good Leadership by West Africa Student’s Union” in Lagos, Thursday

‘Nigerian educational sector as bad news’ – Dr. Frederick Fasehun

(L-R): Secretary General, West Africa Student’s Union (WASU), Diplomat -Aziz Camara, Award Recipient’s Wife -Deaconess Iyabo Fasehun, the Award Recipient -Dr. Frederick Fasehun, President (WASU) -Ambassador Mensah Kweku and WASU Deputy Speaker -Diplomat Kelveen Poullinous, at the presentation of the “Platinum Award for Good Leadership by West Africa Student’s Union” in Lagos, Thursday
(L-R): Secretary General, West Africa Student’s Union (WASU), Diplomat -Aziz Camara, Award Recipient’s Wife -Deaconess Iyabo Fasehun, the Award Recipient -Dr. Frederick Fasehun, President (WASU) -Ambassador Mensah Kweku and WASU Deputy Speaker -Diplomat Kelveen Poullinous, at the presentation of the “Platinum Award for Good Leadership by West Africa Student’s Union” in Lagos, Thursday

Being text of a speech delivered by Dr Frederick Fasehun, National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN and Founder/President of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) on the occasion of an award received from the West African Students Union, at the Century Hotel, on Thursday, September 10, 2015.

 

Today is a remarkable day in my life. As people already know, tens of awards have been conferred on me. But I consider it an exceptional honour, to be conferred with this award by the West African Students Union (WASU). Not only is this an international recognition, the award is especially cherished because education has always been my passion. Coming to me, a former primary school teacher and a former lecturer in Medicine, this award can be considered as a crowning glory to my involvement in the teaching profession. And I thank the Almighty God for granting us the grace to witness this day. My thanks go to the leadership of WASU for this honour. God bless you.

Lessons from China’s devotion to education

The future of any nation is a function of its youth population. Therefore, for any nation to occupy a commendable position in the comity of nations, it must invest in the training of its youth. Such a nation must take more than a casual responsibility for the training of the youth, like most civilised nations have done. Youths serve as the building blocks for the character, the shape and the development of nations.

(L-R): Secretary General, West Africa Student’s Union (WASU), Diplomat -Aziz Camara, the Award Recipient -Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Award Recipient’s Wife -Deaconess Iyabo Fasehun, President (WASU), at the presentation of the “Platinum Award for Good Leadership by West Africa Student’s Union” in Lagos, Thursday
(L-R): Secretary General, West Africa Student’s Union (WASU), Diplomat -Aziz Camara, the Award Recipient -Dr. Frederick Fasehun, Award Recipient’s Wife -Deaconess Iyabo Fasehun, President (WASU), at the presentation of the “Platinum Award for Good Leadership by West Africa Student’s Union” in Lagos, Thursday

Little wonder that a country like China takes absolute responsibility for the comprehensive training of its youths from age 2. Let me dwell on China a bit, because it is a country where I have lived and studied in. Nigeria has lessons to learn from this “Asian Tiger.” Education in China is a government-run system of public education supervised by the country’s Ministry of Education. All Chinese children must attend school for at least nine years, funded free-of-charge by the government. China has a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools. As of 2003, the Chinese government bankrolled 1,552 institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) and their 725,000 professors and 11 million students.

With China laying such emphasis on education, is anyone surprised how quickly the Chinese economy, industries, technology and infrastructures have grown? Education, coupled with the country’s relatively corruption-free government, has given China the speed to catch up with the First World. Why? This is because education is relatively easy to access in China. And today, Chinese youths constitute some of the most patriotic youths of any nation.

The Nigerian scenario

Like China has achieved in Asia, Nigeria has the opportunity to become the economic “tyrant” of Africa, but Africa’s Giant in the Sun has failed in one thing; she has failed to make the investment necessary for the development of her youth population. Where China starts looking after her youths from Age 2, Nigeria does not bother about her youths. Where China provides free education, Nigeria makes education expensive. There are no well-constructed policies or provisions aimed at the development of Nigerian youths and adults. So Nigeria keeps dancing on one spot of illiteracy, while illiteracy is fast becoming archaeological in China, South Korea and Malaysia.

Some years ago, Ghanaian youths rushed into Nigeria to become vassals, shoe-shiners and domestic servants. But when a good leader came into the life of Ghana, education was touched positively and now the drift has been reversed. Nigerians now drift to Ghana to learn from those people who used to serve us as servants. Currently, it is estimated that between N100 billion and N160 billion goes into paying tuitions for the about 71,000 Nigerian children studying in Ghana.

Boko Haram as a scourge on education

Parents say one reason they are sending their children out of this country is because of the regular dislocation in the school calendar due to strikes, and also because of insecurity. Today, insecurity and terrorism have sneaked into our land, riding on the back of a group deliberately conceived, driven and organised by a commitment to attacking the very root of education, educational institutions and educational personnel. Boko Haram, literally translating as “Education is taboo,” was specifically mooted as an affront on secular education.

According to a report by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), about 272 teachers have been killed by Boko Haram. NUT said over 19,000 teachers have been displaced from their jobs since the terrorist group first unleashed its evil about 10 years ago. Boko Haram has displaced over 1.2 million Nigerians from their homes. Of this Internally-displaced persons, over 800,000 are children, a great percentage of which are school pupils robbed of their places in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the hotspots of insurgency. In Borno State alone, of the 1,357 primary schools that contain 495,000 pupils, just 400 remain reopened today. In Borno, 900 schools were destroyed by Boko Haram, with 300 schools burnt and demolished in Yobe State.

Government and the crisis in education

Government appears unprepared to provide an answer to this and other examples of crisis in education. Yet the truth is that if this country continues down this road, our future will be bleak.

In Nigeria, education has become gold, unapproachable for the common man. There are primary schools in Nigeria that pay over N1 million per year, in a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 per month. There are secondary schools paying up to N3 million per annum, not to talk of universities. All this obtains because the cost of education is highly deregulated, and is being left to the whims and caprices of private school owners and visionless state governments.

In a country where the monthly minimum pay is N18,000, children of the poor have poor access to education. And this is very contradictory to the spirit of the Nigerian Constitution.  This Constitution recognises that Education is a legacy that one generation bequeaths on the coming generation.

However, in body language and practice, the three tiers of government at the Federal Government, 36 state governments and 774 councils nationwide are in conflict with these laudable provisions of the 1999 Constitution. There appears to be a display of irresponsibility by the political class and government to the education of the younger generation. This irresponsibility is displayed in many ways, and they include:

  • Government officials declaring openly at local and international forums that Nigeria’s educational standards have fallen (if you announce in the market that the fruits you are selling are rotten, how will you get anyone to buy them?)
  • Incessant, insensitive increment in public school fees
  • Condoning of hyper-inflation in fees charged by private institutions
  • Establishment of cutthroat-priced private schools and universities by former rulers
  • Deficient budgeting and underfunding of public schools and the public education sector
  • Poor reading culture and the failure on the part of authorities to promote good reading culture
  • Overpopulation of classes in public schools
  • Building of inadequate and inaccessible schools, with pupils having to trek for hours to and from schools
  • Scrapping of the boarding school system by state governments, and
  • Deprivation of scholarships and bursaries by government.

Let me just lay emphasis on one or two of these itemised negative phenomena that bedevil education.

Poor budget education

In annual budgeting, Nigeria has consistently fallen short of the 26 percent that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommends that countries should set aside for funding education from their annual budgets.

In the current year 2015, the Federal allocation to education was N492 billion from the N4.3 trillion total expenditure for the year; that is just a little over 11 percent of the total. In the Federal Government’s 2014 budget of N4.642 trillion, Education got 10.63 percent. This was even lower than 2013, when the sector was allocated 10.63 percent of the N4.987 trillion. This outlook is terrible and if we continue this way, education will continue to produce bad news in our country.

One problem is that politicians have refused to walk their talk. During campaigns for elections, politicians would usually mouth those things the youth and parents want to hear, but the moment these politicians get into governance, they distance themselves from their earlier commitments to education. They get to the top through a ladder and when they reach the top they carry the ladder away.

Many of us will remember some aspirants to state governorship positions, who made “Free Education” their swan song; and when they came into governance they tighten the noose on students and teachers. Such visionless aspirants end up making education more expensive.

One Governor jacked up tuition fees for the state-owned university, increasing charges to N325,000 per semester, instead of the old sum of N25,000. He imposed an increase of 1,300 percent! How many Nigerians can afford such a heartless increase? And predictably, a good number of students from poor backgrounds immediately dropped out of the school. But I am so proud of NANS that worked with the local students’ body to bring that madness to an end.

In conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen, Great West African Students, it is clear that with all these factors that have been highlighted, Nigeria’s Education Sector is in trouble. The task to salvage this sector from her current troubles belongs to all of us. And whether as government, as individuals or as organisations, we must join hands to help in building for Nigeria the Educational Sector that will emulate global best practice and be the envy of other nations. In this task, we cannot afford to fail. So help us God.

 

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