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Educationist lists factors militating against free education in Nigeria

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By Cyril Mba, Abuja

An educationist, Dr Adamu Jatau Mainoma, has said that free, compulsory education cannot succeed in Nigeria unless politicians stop abusing the system and neglecting the needs of the education sector.

Mainoma, a former executive secretary of the Federal Capital Territory  (FCT) Education Board, listed several factors which militate against education growth to include rising insecurity, lack of facilities in schools, the propensity of government officials to only pay lip service to schools development and neglect of teachers’ welfare.
The retired administrator, who spoke in an interview in Abuja, warned that the recent promise by President Mohammed Buhari to increase education funding might be misconstrued by some politicians as an opportunity to establish more private schools without adequate plans to improve quality.
“We need to go round primary and secondary schools in the country to understand the poor state of our education system and how many state governments have been using education development as propaganda tool without necessary action.
“Many of the state governments shout free, compulsory education but fail to provide the necessary infrastructure, the right calibre of teaching staff and  facilities that will encourage children to go to school.
“What the nation requires is to make sure all the education facilities, including sick rooms are made available in every community. Classrooms should be made attractive to students and teachers.
“The era when pupils study on the floor under trees should be over by now nationwide. We also need qualified teachers who know their subjects well and are ready to make a profession out of teaching.  Instructional materials are also important and should be made available in all schools for teachers to use,” he advised.
Mainoma stated that politicians were largely responsible for the falling standard of education in the country, pointing out that in some states, positions in educational establishments were filled by unqualified administrators who got the jobs through favouritism.
“There are so many factors that are responsible for the falling standard of education in the country which needs to be properly addressed before things can work well again in the sector.
“One of the factors is insecurity. Many schools have been closed in the north due to insecurity. Secondly, when governments are not doing what they are supposed to do, the type of confusion we have in the country today will set in.
“The high rate of extortion in schools today is the result of governments’ failure to provide basic amenities. This situation has forced teachers to tax their students for everything such as chalk, books and rulers among others.
“Why are our leaders finding it difficult to provide basic facilities in schools but spend money on many frivolities?  No matter the politics, our leaders should ensure that education sector is not abused or neglected,” Mainoma advised.
He also suggested that qualified people should be chosen to occupy sensitive positions in the education sector while governments should refrain from paying lip service to the development of education.

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