BETWEEN INSURGENCY AND ASUU STRIKES: HAS THE NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM BECOME A SETBACK (WEEKLY SECURITY DASHBOARD FOR THE PERIOD FEBRUARY 27 – MARCH 4, 2022)
Born into a Nigerian family, Aisha, one of the daughters privileged to see the four walls of a school in her family, had high hopes of becoming the family doctor within the standard school calendar years.
Having been inundated severally that she could not succeed outside her educational qualifications, Aisha set the target age of 25years for her graduation from Medical College.
Enrolled into primary school at the tender age of six, she was so enthused with zeal at this golden opportunity, that she did not leave any stone unturned, studying at every opportunity, both at school and in-between chores.
Her grades in all subjects were always a perfect score, and cited by schools across the villages and beyond as examples to motivate other students.
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Today, a dejected and forlorn 30-year old Aisha is contemplating abandoning her University education, probably to start farming or possibly, a family.
According to her, “The hope of graduating in the nearest three years remains bleak in the face of unending strikes, the experience of Youth Service, a forgone opportunity at her age, and a bleak chance of securing easy employment in an industry that recruits less than 25 years”.
Hence, amidst the ongoing strike embarked for the umpteenth time by ASUU over Federal Government’s reported failure to honour its pact of agreement, it was not surprising that the news of House of Representatives rejected the bill to stop public officers sending their children abroad for studies has dealt a decisive blow on several students.
Has Nigerian Education become such a setback that the House of Representatives reject the bill for public officers sending their children and wards to schools in Nigeria?
Why is Aisha, a promising, brilliant girl still battling with school at such an advanced age?
According to UNICEF, one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is free and compulsory, over ten million Nigerian children below 14years are not in school.
As schools in Northern Nigeria continue to shut down intermittently due to the rise in abductions and banditry, Aisha’s location was affected. However, her dexterity at bringing pride to her family has forged her on not to be numbered among the 10.5million out of school children estimated by UNICEF.
With the determination that success outside her educational qualifications may be limited, she keeps striving above the traumatic experiences of abductions plaguing the Northern region to continue her academic pursuit.
However, having endured against all odds, the last straw that broke the camel’s back is the perception that none of the government’s policies seems to favour the educational sector, even as members of House of Reps reject the bill barring public office holders from sending their children to school abroad.
This, she believes, has the ability to bury the Nigerian education system which is already in a chaotic state of comatose.
Below is a perspective of some of the traumatic odds students conquer in Nigeria, to give a glimpse of some of the non-financial cost implications paid to acquire education, and yet, suffer unemployment upon graduation.
After testing murky waters with the abduction of over 200 Chibok girls in 2014, the nightmare became a recurring decimal that haunts several families, while nicking in millions for bandits.
Between 2020 and 2021, over a thousand students were abducted:
· 344 from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina - December. 11, 2020
· 80 children from Islamiyya School, Mahuta, Katsina – December 20, 2020
· 27 boys from GSS College, Kangara, Niger – February 17, 2021
· 317 school girls from GSS, Jangebe, Zamfara – February 26, 2021
· 29 from Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Kaduna - March 12, 2021
· 2 Primary School pupils in Rama, Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna – March 15, 2021
· 20 Greenfield University Students, Kaduna – April 18, 2021
· A student of the Calvary Ministries, Barki Ladi LGA, Plateau – April 29, 2021
· A student of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta – May 23, 2021
· 156 students of Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Tegina – May 30, 2021
· 8 Students from Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Kaduna – June 11, 2021
· 80 students of the Federal Govt College, Birnin-Yauri, Kebbi – June 17, 2021
· 121 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna – Jul 5, 2021
· 15 students from College of Agriculture, Zamfara – August 16, 2021
· 9 students from Sakkai, Faskari LGA, Katsina – August 18, 2021
· 73 from Govt Day Secondary School, Maradun LGA, Zamfara – Sept 1, 2021
During the fourth International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration in Abuja in 2021, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, lamented the increasing trend of school kidnapping, noting that although the abducted students are eventually released, the trauma lingers.
“It is disheartening to note that even when the abducted students are released, the trauma of the incidences remains long in their minds.
“There are more than 12 million children currently out of school and the wider implication of the ongoing is that of a generation of children traumatized and afraid of going to school, especially the girl child.”
Yet, there are several “Aishas” in the community who have braced these depressing odds to acquire education, just to be “killed at the final onslaught of their achievement” with endless strikes due to alleged non-implication of agreement.
Available statistics show that between 1999 to date, cumulative periods of ASUU strikes exceed four years.
According to Market Intelligence for International Student Recruitment, Nigeria remains one of the most promising markets with great demand to study abroad from millions of young students who cannot find places in quality higher institutions in their home country.
In 2020, while over 100,000 Nigerian students enrolled abroad, less than 2,000 foreign students enrolled in Nigeria.
Who is Aisha?
Aisha is not a product of fiction, but a representative of every Nigerian student challenged by the decadence in the nation’s educational system, yet, remain patriotic to “made in Nigeria education” in their quest towards becoming better citizens.
She is the present Nigerian student who pleads with the government for urgent intervention in the educational system (structural, financial, security and otherwise) to elevate it from a state of “set back” to “step forward”, where both locals and foreigners would be proud to identify with.
Aisha is Nigeria’s future leader, whose present impaired education, if not urgently corrected, will continue the circle of impaired leadership.