June 24, 2016,
I had been chasing the date for the past four years. It was the day I would finally finish school, have my own BSc and have all the tools needed to become my own person. I could now get a job and earn some money. I was finally through with school (if you’re thinking masters, stop being a buzzkill)
So, I graduated and sat and waited, now I have to take it to the point of prayer because NYSC is broke. The dollar is biting them hard and although they serve no legitimate national purpose, and you technically can’t get employed without it, we still run the scheme, because that’s what we do in Nigeria, we run irrelevant things and bicker needlessly over the important.
NYSC, they say (we don’t know for sure because some numbskull decided history was not important enough to be taught in schools) was set up to promote national unity, after the civil war. Today, Nigeria still operates a federal character system because our unity is so fragile that if one ethnic group is perceived to even try and dominate the rest bombs will be going off everywhere.
Never mind that NYSC takes about 60%-80% (Once again I don’t know for certain since a collection of elderly people called the government decided not all gist is for the young) of our annual budget on youth development which is daft because NYSC doesn’t cover anything close to half of Nigeria’s youth on an annual basis.
But I digress.
The world economic forum says we have the worst primary education system in the world, we don’t even have half the quality of university education of Ghana. Yes, I said Ghana and it’s not okay. In case you have forgotten we sent Ghanaians packing and named cheap multipurpose bags after them just for the fun of it and now we’re the ones going to school in Ghana. We should all be crying and eating shawarma and then next year we go and set new records for mass failure but dollar is too high for that.
So, let’s talk solutions. I wondered if the Federal Ministry of Education has a plan to fix our educational system and I checked. To my surprise, the last time the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education had any plan for our system was when Oby Ezekwesili was minister in 2006. That was 10 years ago in case you misplaced your calendar and Obasanjo was still in power.
Should you go through that 2006 education roadmap, you would notice where it was noted that prior to 2006, there was no plan for the primary education sector whether on paper or in someone’s imagination. As for the secondary and tertiary whatever plans that had been drafted prior to that time were still drafts. Nothing was being implemented, except the UBE.
To put things in perspective between 1960 and 2016, there has never been an even partially implemented long term plan for our educational sector in its entirety except for Obasanjo’s UBE scheme. What happened to Oby Ezekwesili’s plan you ask, well it went with her when she left office because we hate continuity.
At this point I’d like to say that if you’ve been head of state, president or prime minister of Nigeria, whether you are dead or alive, kneel down, close your eyes and raise your hands.
This is so important because in a few decades we will be the 3rd largest population in the world, which means we would have the 3rd largest youth population and the 3rd highest school age demographic. This in turn means we would need the 3rd largest school system in the world.
Factor in today’s reality where we spend 60%-80% of our youth development budget on NYSC, and absolutely 0% on our education (just look at our schools do they look like they get money from government) how are we going to survive in the face of diminishing resources?
As it stands we already hold the Guinness book of records for the country with the highest number of out of school children with 10.5 million children also 40% of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend any primary school. (I know this because foreign stats exist)
Essentially, the only active plan we have for our entire education system is Obasnjo’s 2004 UBE that was supposed to grant free education to primary and secondary school students. Problem is more than a decade later, It’s never been reviewed or improved but we’re content with using unqualified and untrained NYSC corpers to instruct the future of this country in the classrooms. This is the future 3rd most populous country in the world.
By the time we hit population overload, oil will be a lot less valuable than it is now, and if you think oil isn’t even valuable now, just wait till companies like Tesla starts mass producing, Uber starts using electric cars and everyone’s clean energy industries are up and running.
And this is the really fun part, in an even fewer number of decades, the bulk of Nigeria’s political class that has been leading us since 1960, will all be gone. So they would have ruined our country while we fought over them and gave them grandiose burials.
Sometimes, I want to rewire my vocal cords to my chest so I can literally shout with my chest that we are sinking into deep shit, and because it’s not yet near our noses doesn’t mean it’s not going to smell.