Let Those Kaduna Teachers Go

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POSLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri Email: eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com, Tel: 08053069356

About five weeks ago, I attended a week-long seminar organized by a young Nigerian under the auspices of Joseph Consulting, in Lagos. Aside the many other things learnt, I think the greatest lesson is the fact that many Africans, particularly Nigerians, remain poor and under developed because of undue emotion. We are terribly emotional as a people. Too often, we sacrifice reason and common sense on the altar of emotion and sentiments. Yes, the poor are always very emotional and sentimental.

That is perhaps the summary of my interpretation of all the hue and cry that has followed the decision of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to sack the over 22,700 teachers who failed the competency test.
It is however gratifying that President Mohammadu Buhari has thrown his weight behind the decision.

It is sheer sentiment that will make the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president, Mr Ayuba Wabba to organize a protest march against the Kaduna State governor over the matter. Mr Wabba, are you happy that the teachers failed simple primary four tests? Are you proud of teachers who could not spell typhoid or malaria? What kind of teacher in this time and age that cannot identify simple shapes like rectangle and square? What kind of teacher does not know what nuclear family is?
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) is already planning to go on strike on November 23, over the matter. Is the NUT upbeat that some of its affected members do not know the name of the Minister of Education? Is the NUT excited that the affected teachers do not know what “mean and median” stands for, let alone find them in a set of given statistics?

What kind of teacher will fail a simple commonsense question like, “Maryam has four hens and each hen lays two eggs per day. In six days, how many eggs has Maryam altogether?”
I thought the NUT and the NLC will be ashamed about the dismal performance of these teachers who could not pass primary four exam, not even Common Entrance questions; and acknowledge that they have a bad case. But no, because they are powered by silly sentimental labour activism, they organize mass protest against El Rufai. It is nothing but ignorance in pride and pride in ignorance. It doesn’t matter that the governor has promised to employ more people (25,000) to replace the 22,700, he planned to sack.

How many of the protesting NUT/NLC leaders will hire the likes of the sacked teachers to teach their children either as home lesson teachers or as regular teachers in school? Or put even more pointedly: how many NLC/NUT leaders have their children in public schools? How many Local Government
councilors have their children in public schools? Why have they lost faith in the same public schools that produced most of them? Is it not true that the public trust on public schools is at zero point? And that those who still send their children to public schools are the poorest of the poor and are those who really have no other choice? So should government fold its hands and allow that decrepit standard to continue so as to remain popular and acceptable?
As a trained teacher, I know that some persons manning our classrooms have no business being there at all. We cannot pretend about this forever, if we truly desire a revamp in the sector. And this is not quite about infrastructure or the lack of it. The intellectual capital is fundamental.

Do we not all know and cry about the fallen standard of education? Do we not see the effect every day when university graduates speak cracked English and cannot even express themselves correctly? Did it start in the universities? No!
I presently run a school, as an aside engagement, and we advertised to fill some vacancies last August. The quality of application letters, the interview scripts etc., are loud proofs that indeed, our educational system is in deep mess. How, for instance, will a university graduate not know the female equivalent of bachelor? One who managed to say anything like it spelt it as “splinter” Of all they who applied, I could not find even one employable. That is the effect of the Kaduna teachers in our system!

These public officials leading the protests send their children to private schools and prized Ivy League colleges abroad because those institutions have trusted and assured standard and quality pedagogy, yet they hypocritically mount opposition to any plan to enforce even a shadow of such quality in Nigerian public schools. We want gold but we don’t want the fire that produces it.

Yes, it sounds nearly horrible that a huge amount of over 22,700 teachers will lose their jobs in one fell swoop at a time like this when the economy is in dire straits. Sentiments! Life does not travel in straight lines. We fail to realize that it is far more devastating to consider the immediate and collateral damage the ill-equipped teachers will cause millions of the nation’s “future leaders”. No one can give what he does not have.

Those protesting the sack think very lowly of the teaching profession.
Who will tolerate a medical doctor that does not know what side of the chest the heart is? Or understand the basic of the human system?
Why do we tolerate and seek to accommodate quackery in the teaching profession?
Is it not a shame that the teaching profession has become a profession of last resort for many who could not find “better jobs” elsewhere?

Do we not know what many of these public school teachers do? Do we not know how many of them shuttle between Dubai and Nigeria whilst they are supposed to be in classrooms? Do we not know how many of them are better known for selling all kinds of wares and articles, even during school hours?

I thought Nigerians, irrespective of political persuasions should commend El-Rufai for having the courage to do what he has planned to do.
How many governors, especially on their first term, have the balls to take hard decisions?

Have we forgotten how then Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, in August 2013, battled with a “tush” female teacher, Mrs. Augusta Odemwigwe who could not read properly her own sworn age declaration affidavit? How a teacher who had put in 20 years into the service could not pronounce ‘registered” (she pronounced it as “registrated”). Only God knows how many “leaders of tomorrow” that lady infected with her illiteracy.
Oshiomhole, perhaps persuaded by political sentiments, retreated from sacking Mrs Odemwige and her ilk.

It may not be true, but here is a letter (that has gone viral) which speaks to the ridicule that has become our lot in the teaching profession. It is a letter purportedly written by one of the affected teachers in Zaria to Gov El-Rufai:

Yor ekselency,

My name was lado na Allah prom LEA Primary school Zaria. I was been teeching por piptin yars and all of a suden, you wan to sak us. Me I fass my examination . I want to tell you that I teech por many yars and if I cannot teech well, musa kallamu will not be a kansila becos I teech him, he is my sutudent. Because of this I hope yu wil leev us to contineu our work.
Lado na Allah

Look at Lagos State: former Governor Raji Fashola banned the use of commercial motorcycles (popularly called Okada) on many Lagos roads and highways. The ban was a big issue. The police and other task force were on ground to enforce the ban. Hundreds of thousands of motorcycles who flouted the ban were seized (even from policemen) and dismembered, and sold off. I remember our use of the photographs of a huge heap of dismembered motorcycle tyres and wheels on one of our news pages at the time. Not long after, the law was relaxed because of a pending election.

The state lost the courage to continue to enforce the law because of the feared political backlash as it is believed that the bulk of voters in Lagos are the same Okada riders. Today, it is like the law was never made. All Lagos highways (including the third Mainland bridge) have been “re-seized” (permit the coinage) by thrice the number of Okadas that ever existed. And the corollary is that the “okada ward” at the Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital is again, spilling over with hundreds of (Okada) accident victims
We so pander to the political correctness of government policies and sacrifice the overall good of society.
We want to be politically correct all the time. No wonder it is said that statesmen think of the next generation while politicians think of the next election.

It is the sentiment of political correctness that will make Senator Shehu Sani to play to the gallery by siding with, and even motivating the protests because it would pull down Gov El-Rufai, his enemy. Were it not so, let Senator Sani tell us if any of his children are in public schools or whether he can allow any such ‘illiterate teachers” to teach his own children.

Let the teachers go. They must not be teachers. It is good the governor will pay them their whole entitlements. Let them find something else to do with the bulk sum they will get.

There is no point talking about retraining them. The attributes of the profession are not innate in them.

I however have the worry of the intellectual farmyard from where El-Rufai plans to harvest the 25,000 new teachers. Will they not be products of the same cracked system?
It is however going to be a survival of the fittest recruitment exercise, devoid of sentiments and all such baleful considerations that have kept us where we are today, as a people.