There is no doubt to say the least that education is the back bone and pillar of any form of development and without sound and quality education in the society, there would be chaos and serial conflicts similar to the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism that have buried north eastern part of Nigeria, particularly, Borno state which for century is known as Home of Peace and center of Eastern Education.
This situational posture had made Borno not only in Nigeria or West Africa but the entire African Continent to be center of Quranic education leading to the influx of scholars and students as well as pupils into the state to acquire or study Quran and other Islamic literary books.
But with the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in the state, western education was wrongly translated to become a forbidden education except the eastern education erroneously which led to the emergence and gradual spread of the Boko Haram crisis and wanton destruction of western education structures as well as public buildings abd security operatives structures and facilities including, GSM Operators facilities and equipments among others as western technology or innovations.
Borno state which has been known to be the epic center of eastern education with the integration of the western education and technology became a sorry state and empathic, especially, education at the primary and secondary school levels .
Where in spite of the fact that Boko Haram insurgents and terrorists destroyed , vandalized and burnt down several schools in all the 27 LGAs of the state leaving only a few structures standing, it was surprising and imaginary to discover that most schools were under staff, under furnished, under equipped , under structured and have no imprest neither any means of revenue generation to cater for the survival or maintenance of the schools.
While others were left in the hands of headmasters and principals that were busy rather filling their pockets with the little from the parents and guardians of the pupils and students as well as the students as taxes and levies or school fees.
Others have gone to the extend of diverting schools pupils abd students furniture’s, uniforms, instructional or teaching aids or materials and machinery or equipments acquired for the schools like generating sets, uniforms and textbooks , chalks, writing materials and exercise books including bags and others that were either provided by the state government or donated by Parents Teachets Associations (PTAs) or donour agencies in education like UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, UNFPA, UNDP, Red Cross Society, etc.
In some schools visited within and outside the state capital of Maiduguri, over forty per cent of the pupils and students don’t have class desks or benches or chairs or tables. Most of them are sitting learning on the ground floor or leather mats or praying mats in some cases while in some cases, the pupils and students carry out their lessons under the trees or under thatch roof or temporary sheds.
In some schools, the teachers and headmasters or principals don’t come to school regularly unless on rare occasions or when salary is being paid for those that receive on the counter while for those that receive salaries through the banks, only come to school at the end of the month when salary payment is expected from the Government.
Except for the private shools where it is a different ball game altogether as hard work, punctuality, discipline, commitment determination, integrity abd diligent are factors used to retain teachers and motivate them according to Modest Private School Maiduguri Proprietor, Madam Helen Ugochukwu.
A former School Principal, Malam Babakura Adam said ” in those days when we were in the system, everything was available and provided by the Government, especially during the militaty regime before the coming of the civilian Government or democracy when things began to change and education became a different t thing entirely.
“People and parents no long respect education and even students don’t like going to school because of the attitude of the teachers and absenteeism of teachers in the class. While most of the teachers are also unqualified today and taking the job of teaching as a casual job and last resort or option in the absense of any other job,” Babakura said.
A member of the NUT Borno state Council, Comrade Ali Yunusa said,” No respect or regard today for the teaching profession or for education. Students are not serious. Parents lack incentives abd encouragements or mobilization”
” Government has abandoned everything to the background. Educational structures and facilities are grounded or have become dilapidated and outdated while government is not doing any thing and at the local government level, the situation is even the worst
“The situation completely became a pity and sorry situation as crime increased because children no longer go to school and youths have no job to do.
“But we thank God that we have a governor that is caring and has good intention to reinvigorate the educational sector of the state and turn around things to make education one of the best sectors of the state economy with the declaration of war against educational collapse and promotion of education for the orphans and children as well as the youths including nomadic education for the nomads being enrolled in schoils ,” Yunusa said.
However, a civil servant and retired school teacher, Malam Hassan Ahmed said, “the Introuuction of free feeding in primary schools, boarding schools for the children, encouraging and motivating parents and gaurdians to send their children to school and paying WAEC and NECO registration fees for the students removing the burden on parents and guardians have in no small measures added value to education and boost the morale of parents, teachers and the students.
“Similarly, encouraging the children to learn with conducive study environment building new schools, reconstructing and rehabilitating burnt schools and providing study and learning materials and facilities including laboratories and libraries equipping. them with modern facilities and equipments will go extra miles in enhancing quality of education.
“All these are taking place as a result of the relative return of peace being enjoyed by the people. Hence without peace and the gradual return of the peace in the state, particularly, in the state capital, no meaningful development could take place,’ Ali added
A socal media practitioner and consultant, Lanre Idowu said, “We really thank God. We also thank President Muhammadu Buhari first and foremost for his efforts, support and concern for the people and government of Borno state”
“He has done us proud and we are with him and believe in him that he will continue to support us till peace permanently returns to Borno, the home of peace.
“But it is surprising that with all these efforts of Governments in place, salaries and pensions of local government council teachers have remained a great and soaring continuously despite the availability of funds from the federal monthly statutory allocations and donor agencies from the international community and even some wealthy individuals and organizations within the country as well as financial institutions.
“All have been supporting and assisting the state government in terns of schools reconstruction and rehabilitation but these schools still lack proper management, manpower and facilities or feeding without checks and balances from the government or those saddled with the responsibilities and diverting funds or cheating on government, ” Lanre said..
A village head (Bulama) who is also a parent of 9 children going to primary and secondary schools at Dala Wango area of Maiduguri, Bulama Aji Alhaji Dala said, “There is the need with the return of peace in the state and gradual liberation of most communities by the military, schools should be reopened and more functional. And teachers should also be recruited to boost educational activities in the state.”
“Look at how new schools are being built and the old schools that were destroyed are being reconstructed and rehabilitated by the state government in most public schools across the state but no instructional materials for the pupils and students or teachers in the schools,.
“No promotion for the teachers to motivate and encourage the teachers. No prompt payment of salaries. There is also delay in monthly payments of salaries. Worst of it all is the verification exercise of teachers across the state at the local Government level. No proper procedure and time frame for the exercise. No consideration of the plight of the teachers and their families by the governor or government,” Bulama said.
A state pensioner, Malam Babakura Modu kolo said, “In some cases, retired teachers are owed over eleven months pensions while teachers still in service are not paid for over nine or six months due to the verification exercise and even those who were screened and verified don’t get their pay regularly and on time .”
“One other thing that baffles me is the continuous building of educational structures in most schools at the primary and secondary levels of the state across Borno by the present administration without teachers, teaching aids and furniture,” Kolo said.
“Most of the existing schools don’t have furniture and teachers while the enrolment is still low compare to private schools as private schools now seem to be competing with public schools in Borno today due to poor level of education and lack of priority, for quality and proper teaching staff in primary and secondary schools.
“Even the feeding which the state government had recently increased food or meals served the boarding students in schools were poor and below expectation as Government had increased the feeding allowance released monthly to schools for the feeding from N20 million to N200 million.
” But this money ends up in some private pockets of indivduals. Just as the instructional materials do end up in some private pockets and homes for their children and relations at the detriment of the poor and helpless pupils and students,” Babakura added.
It will be recalled that all these were happening due to the boko haram insurgency and terrorism attacks that diserted 80% of primary and secondary schools including state owned tertiary institutions in Bama, Konduga, Gamboru Ngala, Biu and others while Governor Kashim Shettima never relent in his efforts to rebuild the schools and donor agencies.
The donor agencies also made several contributions by way of building primary and Junior secondary schools in some areas within the state capital to support the state government, particularly, the SUBEB school projects.
With the relative peace now breezing the air in Maiduguri and its environs, even Nigerian Stock Exchange, Zenith Bank PLC and Unity Bank PLC among other international donors like the UNICEF, UNHCR, VSF, IOM, UNDP, etc have constructed and renovated some primary and secondary schools to complement the efforts of the state Government in providing quality education and making sure that every school age child goes to school.
Today , it is also on record that most pupils and studebts are freely moving about and go to school freely without any fear of being attacked or with escort any longer unlike in the past during the heat of the boko Haram insurgency..
Students and teachers now freely go to school while parents and guardians now feel free and send their children to schools with the improved security and emerging peace in the state. Kudos to President Muhammadun Buhari and the Nigerian military as welln as the vigilante groups, popularly known as the Civilian JTF and Vigilante Hunters.
More so, Schools are now more secured and fenced. Security operatives strategically positioned at entrances and exits of public and private schools to provide security to the pupils and students as well as the teachers and other administrative staff in.schools.
Secuiry men are only seen on patrol and surveillance on highways and at all the nooks and crannies of the state capital and its environs unlike in the past when they harass and terrorize the residents in the streets shooting guns on the air or at any suspicious object they come across, increasing tension and creating panic.
A situation that shows that peace has finally emerged and socio economic activities are beginning to pick up with bubbling incidences day and night as residents in most communities today observe even night markets as students and other people do peacefully and freely unlike in the past.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)