PROFESSIONALS in various fields have been playing either assigned or self-imposed roles in the on-going anti-corruption national project. Such professional include lawyers who articulate the legal implication of receiving a share of the arms deal; bankers, accountants and auditors tracing and exposing the veiled paths of the various transactions associated with the deal; Media practitioners who update the citizenry concerning the emerging issues in matter.
Also, medical practitioners assess the health situations of suspects to determine their eligibility for bail or urgent medical attention at home or overseas.
The perceived inefficacy of the various anti-corruption policies introduced by successive administrations in Nigeria, is in part, traceable, to the growing value-free nature of instructional practices at various levels of education in the country. The significance of this lies in its potential to contribute scholarly to the ongoing debates and growing concern over corruption in Nigeria and improve our understanding of the subject which itself is capable of contributing towards a change in the landscape of educational practices I the country.
Teaching scholarship is replete with information on the centrality of values to instructional practices. However, there seems to be a wide gulf between what literature presents as ideal and what is practiced in the classroom settings especially in the Nigerian context. For instance, it has been observed that “teaching is disconnected from its moral underpinnings” which are central to the purposes of teaching which themselves “are rooted in the moral development of the young”. Henry Fanstermacher opines that: “Children do not enter the world compassionate, caring, fair, loving and tolerant. Nor do these qualities emerge in due course like hair on the body or hormones in the endocrine system”. Rather, moral qualities are learned and acquired in the course of lived experience. If there are no models for them, no obvious or even subtle pressure to adopt moral qualities, no hints, no homilies, no maxims, and no opportunity to imitate moral actions, the moral virtues may be missed, perhaps never to be acquired.
In order to ensure that teachers’ instructional practices are value-laden, teacher preparation should ensure a Faculty-wide agreement on the moral basis of teaching as well as on what ethics of teaching forbids. Such a provision will constitute a guiding principle with regard to the moral dimension of teaching which, for a very long time, has received little or no meaningful attention among teachers in Nigeria. Such an unfavourable disposition to pedagogical ethics among teachers, teacher educators and researchers cannot but culminate in an increase in the rate value-free practices in the classroom which is why teachers themselves cannot be absolved of corrupt practices in the discharge of their obligations as teachers.
The implication is that we depend on others for moral development and, accordingly, the student depends on his teacher who is supposed to set good examples worthy of emulation. It also implies that teacher’s obligation transcends knowledge transmission or information dissemination. For almost a decade, it has ceased to be an acceptable standard in the ethics of teaching globally that “teachers are not able to demonstrate classroom behaviours that are consistent with the ideal of fairness’… or ‘do not model professional dispositions with their work with students, families, colleagues, and communities.”
However, Nigeria’s education sector seems one of the settings that are probably oblivious of this development, especially with regard to teacher education. For instance, Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (4th Edition, 2004) is almost totally silent about ethics of teaching. The closest it comes to that is where it identifies as one of the goals of teacher education in the country “enhancement of teachers” commitment to the teaching profession” (p. 39) and this, in fact, is not directly applicable to the moral angle of teaching. Similarly, the Roadman for the Nigeria Education Sector (2009) does not concern itself with anything related to pedagogical ethics. Also, the Federal Ministry of Education in its Implementation Guidelines for the National Teacher Education Policy (2009: 17) only states “the need for teacher educators to develop a teaching personality” and fails to connect this to the growing concern over ethics of teaching or the moral obligations of the teacher.
Firstly, there are very few texts currently available that tackle this matter head-on. There has been a general reluctance among the academic community to address publicly and carefully the matter of the ethical basis of its action. Secondly, there appears to be a reluctance to raise value issues. Lastly, the contemporary climate of ‘performativity’ with its insistence on demonstrable outcomes-preferably with a monetary gain – is threatening to shape academic life. (Barner, 2004). By implication, there is hardly any instructional practice or pedagogical action or inaction that may be rightly declared unethical in the contemporary educational setting in Nigeria. This situation has culminated in a preponderance of value-free exchange between the students and their teachers.
Both corruption and the corrupt practices involved in anti-corruption politics in Nigeria are traceable to the value-free instructional practices in Nigerian schools. Now that the President has demonstrated his interest in the education sector through his second-to-none budgetary provisions to the sector, he may need to note that it takes a fraudulent and morally bankrupt teacher just a class or lesson to destroy through his or her value-free instructional practices whatever gains are recorded in the on-going anti-corruption project.
There may not be a resting space for the President as yet, with regard to the education sector. I recommend he beams his search light on corruption to the sector for the purpose of a general overhaul. I recommend he even deploys highly sophisticated and morally endowed manpower in the sector in order to bring about the desired reform. This, to my own mind, is how best to demonstrate his wander-lust for improved education.
Rufai is acting dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University.
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