By Modiu Olaguro
“Keep the teacher in the class and the farmer in the farm.”
Coming into NYSC offers every youth corps member a unique opportunity to contribute in no small measure to the healing of the nation. For a country so in need of healers and crack menders like ours, the injection of hundreds of thousands of young bloods into mostly primary and secondary schools to join hands in wiping ignorance off the society; hospitals to join health workers in sending the angel of death back to heaven; farms in order to help crude farmers bring agriculture to 21st century; etcetera, remains as a major lifeblood of the nation.
While this opportunity might be viewed as lacking in merit to most urban dwellers, no one would deny the far-reaching impacts youth corps members have on the lives of the people in the rural areas. In my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) for instance, there are presently eleven of us who augment the efforts of the permanent staff. If NYSC is scrapped today, schools across the nation, especially in the rural areas would exist only in name. (This is a major reason why those clamouring for the scrapping of the scheme ought to help the government with skillful alternatives in order not to further send us back to the trenches).
It is in keeping with this tradition of making the scheme worthwhile that prompted the local government inspector (LGI) of my community to add a new Community Development Service (CDS) to the previous two – Environmental Protection and Sanitation Group, and Road Safety Group – we had. The new CDS – Education Development Group – which covers mass literacy, adult education, extra murals and ICT is aimed at enhancing the education standard of the host community, provide career guidance, and counseling for students.
According to the May 2015 edition of the “ABC of Community Development Service,” the activities of the members of the Education Development Group include “campaign against illiteracy, organising extra-mural classes for adults, and organising of in-school programmes.”
Although a welcome development, especially to me having queried why such CDS never existed in such an educationally disadvantaged community, the euphoria was short-lived as two guys from amongst us were nominated to head the group.
“Let’s do some voting,” says the LGI.
“Can I say a few things before the election?” I asked.
“Go ahead.” The LGI acquiesced.
“Sir, as a graduate of education (Mathematics), I strongly suggest that whosoever is to head an important group as this should at least have basic knowledge in the field of education; and since we’ve got them in abundance here, I’m of the opinion that one of them be made to head the group.
“This is important given the enormous task and responsibilities that rest on the shoulder of the team. For instance, what skill does a graduate of engineering have to plan an adult literacy program, or an accounting graduate in the organization of a formal extra mural class?”
Having reasoned along my line of argument, he asked the two nominees about their specializations.
“Geography,” the first guy replied.
The other, has a BSc. in Estate Management.
After some deliberations, the house asked the status quo to remain under the premise that the education students would give their maximum support and professional experiences to either of them who emerge as the head.
It is this contempt for educational standards and professionalism that has brought Nigerian education to the very nadir it occupies at the moment. For the country seems to turn a blind eye to the very fact that if teaching was an all-comers’ affair, there would have been no need having Colleges of Education and Faculties of Education in our various universities wherein the art and science of teaching and learning are taught.
Although the situation extends to several facets of our national life, none is as blatant as that of the education sector which unfortunately has been met with a lip approach from the various authorities charged with the mandate of setting standards, regulating, recruiting and training of teachers.