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How not to send pupils back to school

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Students in class (Eductation) PHOTO: Shutterstock

At the end of the extraordinarily tumultuous weeks in Nigeria’s politics, one thing is at least clear: After all the elections hullabaloo, Nigeria remains one indivisible nation. All the fear of crisis was swept away by the euphoria of President Muhammadu Buhari’s four plus four victory.

However, despite the tranquility, the ravaging economic hardship continues to deny the masses peace of mind. And the Federal Government chose to compound the frustrating issues of erratic power supply, corruption, unemployment, banditry and killings here and there across the country by saying the other day, through the wisdom of minister of education, Adamu Adamu that work is ongoing to criminalise and indeed prosecute parents who refuse to send their children to school.

At a time when governments’ chronic neglect of education have gravely wreaked havoc on the sector, even government officials and privileged Nigerians avoid sending their children to Nigerian schools like a plague.

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Hence, they chose to ferry them abroad. Over the years, stakeholders in education have called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on education in order to not only rescue but bring back education’s lost glory. But, such calls seem to fall on deaf ears. Therefore, it might seem sentimental to talk about sending out-of-school children’s parents to jail.

As things stands many parents find it extremely difficult to provide three square meals a day for their families due to the harsh economic realities coupled with the unemployment market that swells every day.

In this regard, for most parents to send their children to school is not only a huge burden, but it is like squeezing water out of stone.

Notwithstanding these ups and downs, the relationship between parents and children remains resilient. But the government’s connection with the people is always miles apart. Don’t get me wrong, there is no room for sentiment here, just stating the obvious.

Consequently, the Federal Government’s position to jail parents for not sending their children to school seems more like the pot calling the kettle black or trying to give a dog a bad name in order to kill it.

The Buhari’s government should hide its face in shame for millions of its young citizens who are of school age, yet, are not attending school.

The Federal Government should take a cue from the Rwanda President Paul Kigame whose free meal to school pupils programme have sharply increased the number of school children in the country.

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No doubt, the phenomenon of Nigerian parents denying their wards education is not new neither is it the right choice, therefore, condemnable. However, before coming up with such unpleasant remedy government ought to have carried out an investigation to unravel the mystery why parents would deliberately not educate their kids.

Also, did government take into consideration the brutal consequences that may befall the children whose parents are victim of the law? Nonetheless, a closer look at the circumstance reveals that such actions of leaping before you look only implicitly undermine the government’s claim that millions of jobs have been created and that the economy is in a robust shape. If so, what other set-back is the reason living condition among Nigerians is this tough?

President Buhari should be reminded that previous governments have forfeited trust, therefore, trust can never be taken for granted. It takes one silly mistake to undo the so-called slow progress which is yet to improve the economy.

After four years of promised change, Nigeria’s education system could best be described as a wreck.

The school feeding programme that the current administration used as one of its campaign pegs, in 2015 and which ought to encourage parents to send their children to school just to skip one meal responsibility have started having a k-leg. It is a shame.

Aside from jail term, what is the government doing to stop the decline in education standard? Will the peanut allocated to education every other year be increased to a reasonable figure in the 2019 budget? Of course, the education minister claimed that Federal Government’s funding of basic education has increased significantly over time despite low earnings from oil.

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He revealed that: corruption and lack of political will have been responsible for most states’ inability to provide their counterpart fund to enable them to access the matching grant provided by the Federal Government.

If the honourable minister have all this evidence, what stops the Federal Government from exposing those state governors that refused to provide their counterpart fund so as to access UBEC fund? Instead, government is so keen to put pen on paper to make laws that will strangulate the masses over its own lackadaisical attitude.

Again, will president Buhari be able to use such an issue as jailing parents for their failure to send their children to school to promote his other most important programmes? These actions show that Buhari makes no pretence of being an expert in most policy areas.

What has happened to education in the hands of governments both past and present is even more intriguing than parents not sending their children to school.

Over the years, we have been mostly groping around in the dark for a way out from the falling standard in education that has been the constant companion of our schools, at all levels. All sorts of factors have been identified as the root causes of the fall in standard.

Yet, government in its own wisdom, either shies away or offers flimsy excuses of the paucity of funds. But funds are not far-fetched for elephant projects or conducting an election that will end up with more questions than answers.

The academic calendar of the nation’s universities has been severally distorted over the past decades due to strikes by the Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over demands to adequately fund tertiary education. It is sad to note that, due to frequent strikes by ASSU, Nigerian university graduates have been christened half bake.

In an attempt to enact a corrective law, government should use the opportunity to free itself of any error.

Just like the Senate the other day joined well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians to raise an alarm over the massive increase in the nation’s debt profile, the growing fear among Nigerians is that the country is gradually turning into a chartered borrowing nation under the current administration.

In any case, this is part of the explanation why Nigeria is one of the least productive in the world. And guess what, debt uncertainty is making it worse because heavy load of debt does leave the nation in a fragile position with a bleak future. Of course, these debts will create plenty obstacles and danger on the way of generations yet unborn.

The current government’s approach to the economy has been dogged by excuses Four years after, President Buhari and the economic adjustment experts are still working very hard round the clock to reverse mismanagement of the economy caused by the previous governments. And their best effort according to him, hangs on luck. Hear him: “…and with some luck our best will be good enough”. The above remark somehow makes it unclear whether the next four years would deliver a major positive change in the economy.

Well, at any rate, Nigeria desperately needs educational investment in its citizens so that their future may be brighter. Therefore, the steps to achieve it should be taken and monitored closely to avoid corruption creeping in between.


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