PUT A TEACHER IN A CLASSROOM, NOT A TOWNHALL!

As a daughter of a Nigerian public school teacher, having to record marked examination scripts used to be a major summer engagement for my family and I back in the day. Public schools in Lagos had from SS1 A to SS1 P, steadily. Without exaggerating, each class had a minimum of a hundred and twenty students. We would record scores all morning, come rain come sunshine. Unfortunately, we were not able to avoid the avoidable human error. Looking back now, I wouldn’t want to imagine that our error had cost some students their grades, of which might have resulted in a long term damage.

The one million dollar question is, at whose feet does this blame lie? Is it the children of the teacher who have helped out their parent? Or the teacher who has handed out scripts of his students to others who are not so qualified to record? If you ask me, I would blame neither. The fact that “he”, as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian education, has made education “free” for all does not mean that “he”, should have what is a school traded for what is a town hall. And of whom do I speak? The government.

UNESCO recommends 40:1 as the ideal student to teacher ratio. The pupil/teacher ratio is an indicator of education quality. In crowded classrooms with a high number of pupils per teacher, the quality of education suffers. For pupils, it is difficult to follow the course and teachers can dedicate less time to the needs of each individual student. Data from UNESCO on the pupil/teacher ratio in primary school show that crowded classrooms are more common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia than in other parts of the world. 22 of the 27 countries with 40 or more pupils per primary school teacher are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A survey of the Nigerian educational scene reveals a series of disparities. There is disparity between urban and rural schools, and between schools owned and controlled by the federal government and those owned and controlled by the states and private agencies. A school should not be transformed into a town hall because we say education is free. Being free does not justify the lack of quality. After all, we all are tax payers, whether directly or indirectly.

Recommendations which cannot be overemphasized to better the quality of the Nigerian schools include:
Recruitment of More Trained Teachers: We are currently far from the recommended 40pupils to 1teacher ratio, but with consistent improvements, we can achieve it. A major factor causing overcrowding of the classroom is the lack of adequate number of teachers. Recruiting of more teachers who have been trained in the field of education would go a long way to ease this traffic.
Periodic Workshops and Trainings for Teachers and Education Personnel: It is often said that one cannot give what one does not have. A teacher whose last training was ten years ago would not effectively meet up with what is obtainable today. With the spontaneous use of the internet these days, one can to a reasonable extent, bridge the communication gap when it comes to crowd management. Education personnel should be sponsored to undergo workshops and trainings from time to time.

Nigeria has laws that are capable of yielding the transformation we so desire. However, the problem has been the implementation of these laws. When we begin to enforce our laws, the country will be a world class paradigm for education.

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