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Riot in University

My best friend, Ezeudo John Maduka, is a law lecturer in a tertiary institution in one of the Eastern States of Nigeria. Early this month, he invited me to his Business Law Class. His students were presenting seminars and he wanted me to act as an external examiner.

He had given me prior notice; and had sent topics on the Law of Contract, particularly; basic elements of contract – offer, acceptance, invitation to treat and agency. I set out eagerly to this great institution of higher learning.

By the way, my best friend, Ezeudo, or “Dike” as he is fondly called, is brilliant, erudite, forward-driven, firm and kind hearted. A rare combination these days! He has a class of approximately one thousand three hundred students. I am sure Ezeudo copes with the large number of students because of his innate qualities and passion for education.

The students were divided into classes of three hundred and were to present their seminars in groups of ten. The first group took the stage amidst cheers from their colleagues. I had barely settled down to enjoy the intellectual voyage when some grammatical bombshells assaulted my ear drums. This mistake was common among the groups that presented their seminars.

It was disheartening to note that these students had been given three weeks’ notice to carry out their researches on their respective presentations. Unfortunately, the instruction to be thorough in their presentation was obeyed more in breach than in compliance. Less than twenty percent of the students were able to present their seminars bereft of avoidable errors. Some students simply read out extracts copied from text-books without any independent intellectual input whatsoever.

Their mode of dressing clearly depicted a flamboyant costume scene from a Nollywood movie as against the sober and conservative disposition favoured by the legal profession they are aspiring to become members of.

The ladies were beautifully dressed in colourful trendy clothes and wore Brazilian and lace-wig hair extensions. Not to be outdone, some of the men turned up in attention- grabbing Mohawk hairstyles and sartorial outfits more suited for a runway show than a law seminar. The students had done every other thing but left out the most important – adequate preparation for the seminar. They were big on style but sadly short on content.

I developed a headache just from observing the numerous faux pas that beset the seminar presentations. The awkward presentations were a disturbing sign post of the rot in our education system and an indictment of the lackadaisical attitude of government in dealing with this problem.

I was informed that some of the students could barely write their own names. Furthermore, most of the students were drawn from “special centers” where their parents had arranged the “necessary logistics” (to use a favoured euphemism) to write the exams on behalf of their wards.

The government announced sometime last week that it had scrapped NECO and UMTE.  But is that really the solution to the festering problem in our education system? To say that the quality of education available in our schools has to improve is stating the obvious. The first step is to ensure that teachers are equipped not just with the requisite qualifications but also with a time – appropriate teaching modules and syllabus. Using 20th century teaching modules and syllabus in a 21st, century age is a recipe for failure as the students churned out are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of the present day.

The Ministry of Education should curb corruption and exam malpractice in the school system. We do not need to attend Ivy-league schools in order to get quality education. The pioneers of modern African literature – Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, Elechi Amadi, Chinua Achebe and Ken Saro-Wiwa were students of Government College, Umuahia.

The Nigerian School system is fraught with myriad problems. There is a general outcry that the standards of education are falling. Some blame students for this apparent decline in quality of education, others blame the teachers for the rot in our education system. They also blame government for unattractive condition of service and poor infrastructural facilities in some parts of the educational system.

The major factor responsible for the declining quality of education in the country is corruption on the part of some education stake holders. Just as it is within the domain of the sector of educational inspection and school supervision to establish and maintain quality education in the country, so is it also that adequate educational inspection and school supervision will produce high quality education, while lack of it will produce declining quality education.

Lack of adequate school inspection and supervision has its variable factors that directly or indirectly make for declining quality of education. These identified variables in the form of: lack of qualified teachers, students’ attitude to study, library facilities, parental responsibilities, misplaced government priorities and corruption or lack of integrity among some educational stakeholders is inimical to the Nigerian school system.

The Ministry of Education should ensure that schools operate in line with global best practices. Corrupt leaders should be severely punished; this would deter others from similar action. Education is the bedrock of any nation’s development. It gives men the tool to navigate their way through the world.

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Port Harcourt,
Rivers State, Nigeria.
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